Does my senior pet really need blood work?

Senior Wellness BoxerDogs and cats age more quickly than their human companions.  That being said, when a pet reaches seven years old, it is considered a senior – with the same types of health risks that humans face at advanced ages.  One thing that many veterinarians recommend is a senior blood panel.

There are many reasons a blood panel can be helpful.  If done consistently, annual blood tests can help a veterinarian track and evaluate the overall condition of a pet’s vital organs and health.  In addition, blood tests can help a veterinarian detect early signs of many serious health conditions such as: kidney disease, diabetes, hypo- and hyperthyroidism, and liver disease.

Senior profiles are more comprehensive and will provide a more thorough evaluation of your pet’s current health.  These panels can also provide a good look into the body’s response to medications and anesthesia.  There are different types of blood tests that can be done, all performing different functions.  A CBC, complete blood cell count, looks for adequate red and white blood cell numbers and checks their present condition.  The chemistry profile looks at various organ enzymes, glucose, proteins, electrolytes, and cholesterol.  Finally, senior panels also look at thyroid function, making sure it is not over or under active.  In addition, your veterinarian may need to check your pet’s urine for signs of disease.

Routine blood work is useful in many applications: to establish a baseline on a healthy pet to compare to later, to help diagnose a pet that is “just not right”, and in geriatric pets.  Speak to your veterinarian today to see if a senior blood panel is right for your best friend – it is the best gift you can give.

 

Senior pet care

Your pet ages more quickly than you do, making it essential that he/sBassettdog_jpg_jpghe be examined at least once a year and even more frequently as they approach their senior life stage. Often, pets begin to develop diseases  common to their senior human counterparts, such as diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, endocrine disease and cancer. These diseases can go unnoticed in their early stages, making preventive health care even more important.

The age at which a pet reaches the senior life stage varies breed and lifestyle. Additional annual screening for diseases and other age related problems should begin at age seven for most cats and small to medium sized dogs. Large and giant breed dogs should be screened starting at age five or six.  Wellness testing helps to establish healthy baseline  values and identify problems early, rather than waiting for obvious signs of illness. It is  recommended for all senior animals as well as any pet exhibiting one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Changes in your pets mobility
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Lumps, bumps or irritation to their skin
  • Issues with their teeth
  • Issues with their ears or shaking of head

These behaviors may reveal that further, more specific tests may be needed. Family  Pet Clinic in North Richland Hills, TX recommends blood work and a  urinalysis yearly to all of our senior pets. It helps to show slight  changes in the tests to catch illnesses earlier.

Remember that with your at home observations and yearly tests can  prevent or slow down the progression of some diseases. If your older pet is exhibiting any of the above listed behavioral changes, you are the first with a voice to help them find relief.

Anxiety in pets

It has been said that anxiety can almost always be traced back to the first two years of life, a traumatizing event or both. Three main types that owners need to be aware of are separation anxiety, noise anxiety, and social anxiety.  According to Dr. Parrish Tanner of Quail Hollow Animal Hospital in Wesley Chapel, FL, it is important to know when to spot these behavioral problems and know when it is time to call in the doctor for assistance. Bringing these issues up with your veterinarian is a good idea. They will be able to help eliminate the behavior or even help your pet cope with it’s underlying anxiety issues.Lonely Days

Some common behaviors that may be exhibited with separation anxiety dogs are excessive barking or howling, inappropriate defecation or urination, destructive chewing or scratching of windows, walls, doors, digging up of carpet and flooring in front of closed doorways when left alone.

Self mutilation behavior is also a sign of anxiety which can result in the formation of lick granulomas (a thick, firm oval-shaped plaque that results from excessive licking of the lower leg). Aggression exhibited toward the owners when they leave the house is one of the more serious behaviors.

Dogs with noise anxiety might behave as follows: shaking, hiding, cowering, urinating uncontrollably or refusing to leave your side. For dogs at the other end of the spectrum, destructive or self-mutilating behavior may be exhibited. Please note that dog’s have the ability to sense changes in the weather. If your dog is thunderstorm-phobic, he may start his noise-phobic behavior well in advance of an approaching storm because he knows its coming.

These are just a few behaviors that dogs with anxiety may exhibit. If you believe your pet may have anxiety problems, Dr. Tanner encourages you to contact your veterinarian for an appointment. It is a good idea to address these issues prior to the fireworks this Independence Day.

For additional details, visit Organic Pet Digest to receive more information on preventing and treating pet anxiety.

The low down on microchips

There is one thing that of veterinary care cannot prevent and that is a lost pet. According to HomeAgain, “1 in 3 pets goes missing during its lifetime”, including those indoor cats that NEVER go outside and for this reason microchipping is recommended. Veterinary hospitalsMicrochipping like Quail Hollow Animal Hospital, in Wesley Chapel, FL offer microchipping services to help make the chances that a lost pet will get back to his or her family a little higher.

Terrie Roberts, CVT at Quail Hollow explains microchip implantation can be done during an already scheduled anesthetic procedure or while the pet is awake. A microchip is about the size of a grain of rice and is injected, much like a vaccine, under the skin. Every chip is biocompatible so as to not cause any adverse reactions once implanted. Also, microchips are permanent, so once the chip is placed it will always be there!

The way a microchip works, is that each chip contains its own special number that is linked to information that could reunite the pet with its family. Once the microchip is implanted, the pet is registered with the owner’s information with a pet recovery service that has access to a national database. Registering with the recovery service is the most important step of the process. Should that pet go missing and be found, any vet facility or shelter will be able to scan for the microchip number and search the pet recovery service with that number. Once the pet’s information is found, the family can then be contacted. A microchip is only as helpful as the information linked to it.

Occasionally, pets are found with microchips that have outdated information. The key to microchip maintenance is to keep contact information current in case a pet does become lost. For more information about microchipping, refer to www.public.HomeAgain.com.

Beat the heat!

With the approaching of the warmer weather and increased temperatures comes an increased risk of heatstroke.  According to Sahuaro Vista Veterinary Clinic,iStock_000015255391XSmall_jpg in Oro Valley, AZ, heatstroke occurs when a pet become extremely overheated and cannot lower its body temperature by itself.  This condition can come on very quickly, and without intervention.

Heatstroke can affect any animal at any time, but is most commonly seen in pets that have been left in parked cars.  A recent study showed cars parked on a partly cloudy, 93 degree day, saw temperatures increase to 120 degrees in just 15 minutes, making this a very real danger for pets.  Risks include exercising in warmer weather and being left outside during hot weather—especially if there is limited access to water and shade.  It is recommended to exercise your pet in the coolest hours of the day—early morning or later evening, and cool them off with a drink or a cool bath afterwards.

Under normal circumstances, animals pant to cool off.  If panting is not sufficient, their bodies redirect blood to dilated blood vessels in the skin—this helps the animal radiate heat to eliminate it from the body.  In a heat-stressed animal, the hotter the animal gets, the more blood is routed to the skin—and away from critical organs like the brain, kidneys and liver, causing these organs to fail.

Symptoms of heatstroke cover a wide range, including: heavy panting, vomiting/diarrhea, dehydration, collapse, seizures, coma and death.  It is imperative that if it is believed that an animal is suffering from heatstroke to be seen by a veterinarian immediately.  Not only will the doctor externally cool the pet, but fluids may need to be administered as well.  Death is common in patients with heatstroke, so time is of the essence.  Stay vigilant this summer and prevent unnecessary suffering.

 

How nutrition can play a role

dietary-counselingAccording to Catalina Pet Hospital, in Tucson, AZ there is no one cure-all remedy for allergies. Some conditions have a quick fix, while others require a lifelong commitment to careful management. The right nutrition can play a big role in this process.

There are certain aspects of your pet’s diet that can help diminish—or even eliminate—allergy symptoms. Protein is one of the key aspects of proper nutrition as it assists in promoting natural cell repair—and it is important that your pet gets the right kind. Sometimes it is necessary to switch your pet to an alternative protein such as venison or duck to help decrease reactions or intolerances to common food ingredients.

Essential fatty acids are another ingredient that are helping in controlling the symptoms of allergic reactions. Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids will help nourish and protect skin from dryness and flakiness.

Lastly, antioxidants are critical in helping to maintain a healthy immune system. Vitamin E and other antioxidants will help protect your pet’s immune system from damage due to cellular oxidation caused by free radicals.

Diet is a simple, every day way you can support your pet’s health and wellness. Talk to your veterinarian today on what diet is right for your best friend!

Common dog dental questions – Answered!

85% of dogs over the age of 3 show some stage of periodontal disease. Think about it: If we didn’t brush for years on end, our teeth would be falling out from disease. So it is very important to learn about brushing your pet’s teeth and taking her to your veterinarian for regular oral care evaluations and professional cleanings. Ask a veterinarian to answer some common dental questions, and here’s what you’ll learn.

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How many teeth do dogs have? Most adult dogs have 42 teeth. For comparison, people typically have 32 permanent teeth.

When do baby teeth fall out, and what happens to them? This is breed and genetically dependent, so baby teeth will fall out at different times. But in general, around 14 to 16 weeks of age, dogs begin losing their incisors (front teeth), with others following in later months. The canine baby teeth (“fangs”) usually fall out when the dog is between four and six months of age.

What is the biggest factor that contributes to dental problems in dogs? The biggest issue is probably periodontal disease, which is inflammation of the teeth’s support structures. Depending on how advanced the disease is, this can affect gums and/or bone.

Will a dental cleaning help my pet’s breath? Dogs should not naturally have bad breath. A thorough dental cleaning and regular brushing at home is going to improve your pet’s breath.

Give your pet something to smile! Be sure to contact your local animal hospital to find a special dental offer that’s right for your pet or click here to find a location near you!

Cheers to a new year and another chance to focus on your pet’s health!

Did you know…A gain of 2 pounds in a 20 pound dog is equal to a gain of 15-20 pounds in the average adult?

Picture2If your pet indulged a little too much over the holidays, a New Year’s Resolution to eat right and shed some weight might be just the thing he or she needs. These simple rules will help your pet start the year off in the right direction:

Calories In, Calories Out: Dogs and cats are no different than people – if they eat too much and aren’t active enough, they’re going to gain weight.

 Quality, Not Quantity: A good quality pet food will provide all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed to keep your pet healthy. Your veterinarian can advise on how much to feed to obtain your pet’s optimal body weight.

Know Your Pet’s Lifestage: Puppies and kittens need more calories than adult pets to help them grow. Most senior pets need higher levels of fiber and fewer calories. Just like all pets are unique, all diets are not built the same.

Diet Impacts Overall Health: The right diet can help alleviate and treat skin problems, gingivitis, and scores of other medical issues.

 What is your New Year’s resolution for your furry companion going to be this year?

Don’t let your pet get wrapped up in the holiday celebration!

As we celebrate the holiday season, we’d like to make sure that our furry friends don’t get wrapped up in some of the decorations or festive treats that may be hazardous to their health. Mary Jean Calvi, LVT, from Pawling Animal Clinic in PawliView More: http://hailiejayphotography.pass.us/ebah2013ng, NY alerts us to some of the dangers that may be lurking around the house to ensure your pets can enjoy a safe and happy holiday.

Resist the Fancy Feastings
As a part of our family, most of us try to share our holidays with our pets. But as difficult as it may be, try and resist the urge to indulge your pet in the rich foods of the season. Gastrointestinal upsets which can actually lead to more serious conditions such as pancreatitis are common complaints we see this time of year. Pets are not people and will do much better on a quality pet food diet!

Did you know that ingesting several ounces of chocolate can kill a small dog? Dark chocolate and baking chocolate are even more toxic. Make sure to keep all chocolate far out of reach of pets.

Deck the Halls
While decorative plants adorn many homes at this time of year, be aware that many ornamental plants of the season can be toxic to pets. Mistletoe, poinsettia, holly, and lilies are just a few. Symptoms can range from mild gastrointestinal upset, nausea and vomiting to kidney failure. When decorating with plants, remember to restrict animal access.

Oh Christmas Tree …
A veritable wonderland for animals, especially cats. But dangers abound! Water from your tree may contain fertilizers that can upset your pet’s stomach. Ribbons, tinsel, and string can easily become lodged in intestines and cause obstructions. Glass or other ornaments, if ingested, can cause internal lacerations. Close proximity to candles can singe hair quickly … or cause fires if accidently knocked over.

Dangers also lurk under the tree. Electric cords are potential electrocution risks. Small toys can cause obstructions and batteries contain corrosives that can cause ulcerations to the mouth, tongue and GI tract.

The Weather Outside is Frightful …
Adequate shelter from the elements should always be available for your outdoor pets. And don’t forget … water bowls left outside WILL freeze!

Outdoor cats will often seek the warmth from a car engine and climb right up under the hood. To avert any CATastrophes, bang on the hood or honk the car horn before starting your vehicle to warn any unsuspecting cat time to flee!

Winter Wonderland
Ice melting products, depending on the active ingredient, can be irritating to pet’s skin, pads and mouth. Restrict your pets’ access to areas where these products have been applied or make sure they wear their rubber booties too!

Antifreeze is sweet to the taste but did you know that one teaspoon can be lethal to a cat (4 teaspoons to a 10 pound dog!). Thoroughly clean up all spills and store antifreeze in tightly closed containers.

Not a Creature Was Stirring ….
Except for the mice! Ingested rat and mouse bait can cause serious clotting disorders. When using these products be sure to place them in areas totally inaccessible to pets. Always keep the product information should a problem arise. In an emergency, it is helpful to know which active ingredient was involved.

 

Osteoarthritis signs and treatment

Bassettdog_jpg_jpg“My dog seems to be getting up and moving slower since the weather change. What should I do?”

The most common reason for an increase in lameness or stiffness secondary to changes in the weather is osteoarthritis. Osteoarthritis is the deterioration of joint cartilage and the inflammation associated with this damage. It can be limited to one joint or can affect multiple joints of the body. It is most commonly seen in middle age to older patients, and it can be a result of previous injury, genetic predisposition, conformational stresses, obesity, or excessive wear and tear from overuse. According to Parrish Tanner, DVM, at Quail Hollow Animal Hospital in Wesley Chapel, FL, the typical symptoms of arthritis include difficulty standing up or sitting, stiffness after laying down that improves with activity, and worsening symptoms with weather changes especially rain and cold. Osteoarthritis is seen often in all breeds of cats and dogs.

The first step for any patient displaying symptoms consistent with osteoarthritis is to evaluate their body condition/weight. The vast majority of dogs with symptoms of arthritis are heavier than their ideal body weight. If your dog is overweight, weight reduction through reducing food intake and moderate consistent low impact exercise (fast paced walks, swimming, etc.) of 30-60 minutes a day can have a profound positive effect. Even if a patient is not overweight, moderate exercise is almost always beneficial because it helps maintain or even build muscle mass.  This helps to support the damaged joints, reduces pain in the joint, and improves a patient’s range of motion. It is important to note that osteoarthritis and its symptoms are usually slowly progressive and lifelong, therefore, treatment and lifestyle changes to combat arthritis are life long as well.

Medical treatment for osteoarthritis usually comprises a multimodal approach. Treatment can include but not be limited to dietary changes, nutritional supplements, anti-inflammatory and pain medication, physical therapy, acupuncture, cold laser therapy, and occasionally surgical intervention. By treating arthritis in multiple ways, improvement of clinical symptoms is more greatly achieved while at the same time reducing side effects associated with high does of pain medication.

Dietary changes and nutritional supplements are often the first logical step to combat osteoarthritis. There are two prescription diets that have been shown in studies to help control symptoms of arthritis, and they also help in achieving an ideal body weight through calorie restriction. Supplementing the diet with omega 3 fatty acids and glucosamine/chondroitin can also have a very positive effect on patients that are suffering with arthritis.

If lifestyle changes, dietary changes, and nutritional supplements are not controlling the symptoms of arthritis then medication and other therapies would be indicated. The most commonly used medications for arthritis are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. NSAIDs can have a significant effect on the inflammation and pain of arthritis, but it is important to understand that there potential side effects associated with these medications and all other medications used for arthritis. Consistent monitoring, examinations, and bloodwork are needed when patients are on any medication for arthritis.

As our pets age, the signs of osteoarthritis can become evident to us either gradually over time or sometimes very acutely. Dr. Tanner stresses the importance of contacting your veterinarian for an examination, if your dog has started to have difficulty with mobility. An exam is the first step in determining whether a patient is developing osteoarthritis or has other medical cause for immobility. If arthritis is the cause, we can begin tailoring therapy for your dog to hopefully give him/her the most pain free, happy life possible.