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Dr. Kim Simpson

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The Importance Of Regular Check Ups For Senior Pets

Seniors Pets Check UpsFor many pet owners it is difficult to tell if our pets are getting to the stage where they are slowing down because they are sick, or if it is just old age. To give you a good rule of thumb, a senior dog is around seven to eight years of age, and although many dogs live until they are twelve or even fifteen, you should be taking them for regular check ups from about the age of 8 years. In addition, many conditions and illnesses can start to show signs at this age, but also blood tests can reveal hidden conditions easily that you may not be aware of at this stage, so let us look at the importance of regular check ups, and some signs to look out for as your pet ages.

To give you an idea of the aging process of a dog, for every one of our years a dog would age around 6 to 8 years, so diseases associated with older humans, like diabetes, liver and heart problems can start to begin in a dog as early as six, occasionally earlier. Many health problems with dogs have visible signs to look for while other conditions can only be detected by blood tests, although even hidden diseases may be apparent by watching his behavior change. Having said that, another reason it is important for regular check ups for senior pets is because in many cases, the earlier a condition is detected, the easier it is to treat.

Things To Look Out For In Your Senior Pet

Take some time out each week to give your pet a good check up yourself, look out for any new lumps or bumps on his body as these may not be apparent just by looking, you have to feel for them, and sometimes lumps can turn cancerous, and spread throughout the body. Hip dysplasia is quite common in larger dogs, but can also be a problem for smaller dogs too, or they can suffer from sore and swollen joints. Sometimes there are obvious signs to look for, like his unwillingness to get up too often, or walk long distances due to the pain in the joints, or he may not be willing to climb stairs where before he may have run up them.

Quite a few older dogs can have poor eyesight, and some even end up going blind, and this is more common than you would think. Check on his eyes regularly, and report any abnormalities to your vet, a grey slightly milky look could be a sign of cataracts and if left alone can lead to blindness. Glaucoma can be another eye condition senior pets can develop, and red or sore eyes can be a sign of this. Therefore, in this case you should make an appointment with your vet to get this checked out, and discuss which treatment plan is best for him.

Heart, Lungs, Kidneys And Liver

Senior pets with a cough, breathlessness, decreased stamina, or a bloated stomach can be signs of cardiac issues and should be checked out, because as the heart ages it can develop a heart murmur or even a swollen heart. Similar signs could mean a lung disease like bronchitis or even pneumonia, especially if there is a cough present and there seems to be difficulty in breathing. A lack of appetite, nausea, and sometimes seizures can be a sign of a liver problem, because in senior pets the liver can malfunction and create a build up of toxins in the body.

Problems with kidneys are quite common in both dogs, and cats and there can be several signs to look for as a senior pet owner. Weight loss, excessive thirst, bad smelling breath and/or mouth ulcers can all be signs there is a kidney problem. Having said that, all the aforementioned conditions can be either treated, cured, or manageable for a better quality of life providing they are caught early, which is why it is so important to have regular vet check ups in senior pets.

Many life threatening conditions can plague our senior pets as they move toward their twilight years, and most of them can be detected either by a simple blood test, or urine sample. Early detection can be vital in the course of treatment, and whether or not he can be cured, or just make life easier and more comfortable for him, depending on the ailment or condition. Therefore, getting regular check ups for our senior pets is important, because catching a condition early enough for a cure can save you money further down the line, and lead to him having a much longer life too, so that you both can enjoy more years together easily.

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Making Senior Pets Comfortable In Their Last Year Of Their Lives

Making Senior Pets Comfortable In Their Last Year Of Their Lives - Paws at PeaceAfter spending more than a decade with our best friend, we know the inevitable is going to happen, but really don’t want to think about it. However, we still want what is best for him, and it’s still our job as a pet parent to take care of him the best we can and make him as comfortable as we can during his final year. The bond between a man’s best friend, and his owner often can’t be matched by anything else. Moreover, only you can know his preferences, dislikes, and favorite petting spots, whether it’s his ears or his belly. That being said, let us talk a bit more about other things that can make him more comfortable during this final phase of his life.

Many dogs in their last year of life prefer the quiet, so keeping him away from loud noises, or playing children may make him feel more secure at this time in his life. Also, at this point in time his joints may be aching, and he may even have arthritis, so it is important to make sure he has something soft to lay on, as hard floors will just make it worse. Talking to him in a soft tone, and petting him whenever he allows it will let him know that you still care about him, and that everything is going to be ok.

As he gets closer to his final days he may not be able to walk very far, so another thing you may want to consider is giving him his meals close to where he is most comfortable. Also, hydration is still important at this time of his life, so you should always keep a bowl of water close by, so he can take a drink whenever he needs one. Having said that, he may be at a stage where he can’t eat much solid food. Therefore, you may want to start giving him a liquid food, or mash his food up into a soup for him, so it is easier for him to digest.

Another thing that happens in the last days is he may have accidents, not being able to get outside quick enough for a bathroom break, so be sure to keep him in a place where it is easier to clean up any mess. Moreover, it is also important not to punish him at this late stage in life, it’s not his fault, just let him know everything is ok and don’t make a big thing about it, or it will just cause unnecessary stress. If he has a favorite food, a favorite toy, or even a favorite blanket, make sure all these things are around him or close by, so that he can see them, as this again will make him feel more secure.

It is also important to remember that at this point in their life pets cannot regulate their body temperature as well as they used to, so you may want to place a warm blanket over him if he shows signs of feeling cold. Some owners in the last days decide to sleep with their dog, either putting a makeshift bed by your dogs bed, or letting him sleep on your own bed, this can give him added comfort and security. If you can’t get time off work to be with him in his final days, try to get a good friend to sit with him, and maybe record some of his activity when you’re not there.

Finally, something that can often make senior pets feel more relaxed, and comfortable in their final days is soft music, and you can purchase music with just wildlife sounds, with birds singing and running water. Whatever method you choose to make your senior pet feel comfortable in their final year, it will surely let him know that you still care deeply for him, and that you are there for him just like he has been there for you for many years. Always be sure to take pictures, or video of your best friend, so you can look back and remember all the wonderful times you had together, and that he will always be in your heart, even when he’s passed on.

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Pain Management For Terminally Ill And Senior Dogs

Pain Management For Terminally Ill And Senior Dogs - Paws at PeaceMost pet owners that have had the pleasure of spending many wonderful years with their best friend will tell you how sad, and hurtful it can be when they are diagnosed with a terminally ill condition. We all know that sooner, or later our pet is going to reach the end of his life, but we’d rather not think about it until it is upon us. However, there are things we can do to make our pet feel better in his last days. This article will discuss some of the things we can do to make our terminally ill pet feel a little more comfortable during those last days, and when to consider euthanasia as an option.

End of life care for our beloved pet doesn’t always mean pain and discomfort, because now there are many things we can do to ease their suffering, unlike many years ago when the only option would have been to euthanize him or her. With so much progress being made with medication’s now, pain can be managed much better, so our pet doesn’t need to suffer and feel the discomfort that pain brings. Moreover, this is the time we, as responsible pet owners, can show our pet just how much they are loved by taking extra special care of them in their time of need.

One of the first things we need to do with our elderly pet, or a pet that has been diagnosed with a terminal condition is to make sure we keep appointments with the vet, so that our pet can be monitored and catch signs of any deterioration. In addition, make sure your best friend is surrounded by his, or her favorite things, like a special toy, warm blanket, or maybe a favorite cushion he loves to snuggle into. Pets with very limited mobility can develop sores, so be sure to check this often, especially on the joints, and provide an extra soft pillow for them to lay on.

Many older pets can develop incontinence and lose bladder control, so you should check them often throughout the day for wetness or soiling. Having said that, you can help them when they need to defecate, or urinate by supporting them with a sling, or a alternatively you can use a towel that can support their belly to assist them. Moreover, making them as comfortable as possible in their final days will let them know that you still love them as much as when the day they came into your life, reassuring them by talking to them, and staying in sight as much as you can will help them too.

Another option for terminally ill, and senior dogs is pet hospice care, where your pets final days, or weeks are made much easier with the use of carefully managed pain medications. As well as pain management, hospice care will also include dietary changes, and strategies along with human interaction, allowing your pet to live their final days with dignity. Hospice care generally requires constant supervision, and interaction, with you as the primary carer, and nurse while working together with your vet to make your pets last days as comfortable and pain free as possible.

Euthanasia is clearly a last resort, and not everyone likes to think or talk about it, but in many cases it is wise to at least consider it, especially if your pet is suffering greatly, or pain medication isn’t working. Your vet is specifically trained to enable him to carry out this procedure in a humane manner providing your pet with a pain free, gentle way to go, just like he was falling asleep. Of course this decision lies solely on you as the owner, and sometimes keeping a diary of his final days can allow you to weigh up if it is time to make this decision.

Finally, when it comes to an older pet, or a terminally ill pet, decisions can be extremely hard to make due to the stress, worry and not wanting our best friend to leave us. In the end we have to think of our pet, and his level of suffering, and our job as a responsible pet parent should be to base our decision on what is best for him or her. It is hard to say goodbye to a loved one whether it be human or pet, and there is nothing anyone can say to alleviate the pain we feel when losing a loved one, but we will always have the memories to cherish forever, even after they are gone.

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Nutrition Needs For Senior Dogs

senior dogs nutrition - Paws at Peace Pet HospiceNutrition for older dogs is a very important topic to know for those who own a dog, this is because as your dog gets older his nutrition needs change. Many owners who know little to nothing about an older dogs metabolism can unknowingly be giving their best friend the wrong foods, leading to an overweight dog, which in turn, can lead to unwanted health conditions. However, in this article we will discuss the changes in an older dog, and the necessary changes we need to make to their diet, and exercise routine, so that you can still give your dog the best as he ages.

As a dog gets older, his nutrition requirements can change quite a lot, depending on the breed, and the way the body uses energy as well as the food intake needed to produce energy changes also. This is called the metabolism process, and as a dog gets older the metabolism slows, so their fat and calorie intake doesn’t need to be as much as when they were a pup or in their prime. However, your older dog still needs protein, and fat but not as much, and their diet should consist of more fiber and grain as they get older. That being said, their exercise needs change too.

Some older dogs can stay on the same food they have always had, but less of it, while others may need a completely different type of food. An older dog needs a well balanced diet with an adequate amount of protein and calories, but more fiber to give them the feeling of being full. Lower amounts of fat means lower amounts of calories, and older dogs are better off with a higher fiber diet due to them being more prone to things like constipation, and if you want to stick with your regular food, you can add wheat bran to this, which will add to the amount of fiber.

As your dog gets older it is highly recommended that you visit your vet regularly for checkups on his health, and to get a professional opinion of what your dogs diet should include. Some older dogs have the opposite problem of being obese, and that is being underweight due to them not wanting to eat. This can be due to many different reasons, and this will be the time to take the food challenge, by experimenting with what he will eat, because some older dogs are disinterested in their food for a variety of reasons.

One reason an older dog may not be eating like his old self could be that he has trouble chewing the hard kibble, this could be because his teeth or gums aren’t what they used to be. Having said that, you can try to add water to the dry food to soften it a little, or it may just be the kibble is too large now, so a smaller kibble may work better. Moreover, older dogs that seem to be off their food can often do well on a completely different type of food, like chicken and rice with some vegetables and potato, which is why many dog owners with older dogs will switch to homemade recipes, as their dog ages.

Some older dogs may even need supplements to help them get the nutrients they need, but each dog is different and again, it is recommended to speak with your vet to discuss your individual dog’s needs. Older dogs can be prone to joint problems, so a supplement containing glucosamine and chondroitinnutrition can help support joints. If your older dog cannot eat a complete balanced diet then a vitamin, and mineral supplement may be needed to help with any deficiencies.

Finally, older dogs undergo many physiological changes, and one should keep up with those changes, and change their diet and exercise accordingly. Nutrition for older dogs is important, and so is exercise, although exercise may not be what it used to be, and one may have to make some other changes around the home if he is having joint problems or medical conditions. Making sure your older dog has a well balanced diet, with the right amount of exercise, will prevent him from becoming overweight, and protect him from unwanted health conditions that go along with being obese.

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Senior Dogs: Taking A Closer Look At Health Problems

Senior Dogs - Paws at Peace Pet HospiceDepending on the breed of dog you have really depends on the type of health conditions they may have in their older years. Although many will often have similar health problems as they approach their final years equally. Having said that, they are not that different from us when it comes to their senior years, developing poor eyesight, have less energy, putting on weight, and even becoming slower and turning grey. Almost half of dogs end up dying of cancer, which again many people suffer from, but here we will discuss the many health problems in senior dogs, so that you can see the early signs, and get any treatments that may be available, or needed just to help make your best friend comfortable for the conditions he may have. Therefore, read on to learn more.

The first outwardly seen signs of a senior dog is greying of the coat, usually starting around the muzzle, as well as becoming slightly less active. You may find he may not want to chase the ball, as much as he did in his earlier years, this is a sign he is slowing down, because he has less energy. This is also a time when he needs less fat, and more fiber in his diet, because the later years he will put on weight, and obesity is a very common problem among older dogs, so speak with your vet about diet change and maybe some supplements too.

Another health problem that can occur in older dogs is blindness, or their eyesight becoming very poorly. Therefore, it is recommended if this is the case not to rearrange furniture, because many dogs can navigate their way around familiar places, if everything is as it was when their eyesight was good. This is also the time that arthritis can set in, and although there is no cure for this, there are medications that can ease pain and make it a little easier to live with. Along with arthritis there may be joint pain, which may lead to him being less responsive to petting, sometimes even getting agitated or even annoyed. In addition, he may seem to be off his food, and just like us when we just sometimes want to be left alone when we are in pain, he may react in the same manner.

With that said, it is also common, especially in older dogs, to develop calluses, usually on their elbows, and this is, in part, due to them spending more time laying down. Keeping that in mind, if he is laying on a hard surface, it may be wise to provide him with a soft bed, and they do sell orthopedic beds now for dogs, which will help prevent the calluses from worsening. Moreover, as the dog gets older, their nails can become brittle, so you need to be especially careful when clipping them, and you may have to clip his nails more frequently due to the fact that he is not as active, and won’t wear them down so much naturally.

At this point in their life, it is important to keep up on their vaccinations, because older dogs are more prone to illness, and disease than younger dogs due to their immune system not functioning as effectively as it did in his earlier years. Dental disease is another common problem among senior dogs. Therefore, one should brush their teeth regularly, because dental issues can lead to more complicated diseases later on. Also, if a senior dog does get an infection, or sickness he will more than likely take much longer to get over it then when he was younger.

Other health problems that can arise in senior dogs are respiratory problems due to their lung capacity being decreased, and they may tire much quicker. There may also be a decrease in their liver, and kidney function. However, there are tests for this, and certain treatments are available if caught early. Temperature changes may also effect them differently, because they can’t regulate their body temperature as effectively like when they were younger. Therefore, he may be more prone to feeling the cold, or hot temperatures during the cold and hot months.

There are many health problems in senior dogs that can show up, and not all dogs will get all of them, as each dog breed is different, and there are many senior dogs that are quite healthy until the very end. Being aware of possible health problems means that you can sometimes catch them early enough to either treat them, or give them medication to ease any pain. Having said that, if you notice changes in your dog’s behavior, don’t just put it down to old age as it may be medical and treatable. Finally, always pay a visit to your vet if you feel something is not right, as it’s always best to err on the side of caution to help ensure your best friend stays health especially in their senior years.

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Dealing With Pet Loss

Pet LossFor pet owners, pet loss can be extremely distressing, with a mixture of emotions, which can compare to losing a close family member, after all a dog is “a mans best friend”, and in many cases that is very true for pet owners. Having said that, many people that don’t own a pet cannot understand our loss, and the way we feel about it, but for those who have lost a beloved pet how do we deal with that loss? Every individual deals with loss in a different way, but there are things you can do to help cope with that loss, and here in this article we will discuss some of the things to help us cope with such a loss.

For many pet owners it’s not ‘just’ a dog or cat, it is a close family member you have spent many years creating a special bond with, and for some it is even a closer bond than some real family. From getting him as a puppy, and spending maybe the first year training him, to teaching him tricks, and watching him grow as well as the hours spent walking and talking with him, seeing him perform his amusing antics. Moreover, many pet owners will tell you there is a bond there that cannot be duplicated with a human, it’s really that close in many cases.

However, when the time comes that our beloved pet parts ways with us, we feel a huge loss, like a large part of our life has been ripped away from us, and there is a big hole that cannot be filled. That being said, it is not the same for everyone, but for many this is exactly how it feels, and many of us do not know how to cope, and wonder if we will ever feel the same again. It is true that nothing will ever replace our best friend, and the pain doesn’t go away, just like with a loved one, but time does ease it, and you end up with lovely memories that you can talk to others about, and maybe share stories about how mischievous he was, or even show photos if you took any.

In the meantime, wondering how we will cope can be frustrating as there is a mixture of emotions when losing a pet, like anxiety, guilt, anger, depression and even denial, but eventually you will find resolution and acceptance. Having said that, you should not try to hide your feelings and keep it bottled up, that makes it worse and it lasts longer. If, you need to cry then don’t be afraid to cry, and although friends and family members may not understand fully what you are going through, it may be more appropriate to talk with someone you know who has also lost a pet. Moreover, someone who fully understands what you are going through can be more help than others close to you who don’t quite get it.

After losing a beloved pet, it is only natural for one to feel alone, sad or even frightened for a time, this is all part of the healing process. In addition, you should try to think of all the good times you had, look through photos, or videos you took and let the tears flow if need be. For some the healing process can begin with a funeral, depending on the individual, a chance to say goodbye properly, and show your feelings openly without the threat of ridicule from those who don’t understand what you’re going through.

Some people who lose a beloved pet find some solace in creating a memorial, like planting a tree in memory of the one you lost, creating a legacy to celebrate the time you had with a best friend. Creating a scrapbook of memorable photos of your pet to share with others when the time is right can also be helpful. Additionally, you may find that in the beginning your loss may effect your daily routines, and sometimes even your health, and one shouldn’t be afraid to seek out professional help in these times, either a doctor, or mental health professional can evaluate you and maybe give you some medication to help you through the worst part, especially if you’re suffering from depression over the loss.

When dealing with the loss of a beloved pet, the stress and emotional toll it can take can seem overwhelming, and drain you of energy and emotional reserves. During this time, it is important to look after your health and believe that you will get through this. However, also remember that it just takes time, more with some people than with others. Keep in mind, that there is no set time frame that you get over something like this, as it can take weeks, months or in some cases years. Living with your beloved pet for so long, in many cases up to 15 years or more, can leave a void in your life once they are gone, and it is important to find something that can help fill that void, the time you use to spend with your pet.

While living with your pet took up a great part of your time, you need to try and fill that time with something positive, like taking up an old hobby that you let go. Moreover, it is also important to have friends, and family around to support you in your time of need, and if there isn’t anyone close that understands how you feel, visit some online forums where you can talk to others who have gone through what you are going through now. Eventually, as the healing process gets underway, you will find you will be able to visit some friends you maybe met in the park while walking your dog, and maybe consider looking at a future best friend, not one that will replace your loss, but creating a new best friend, after all you did make life wonderful for the one you recently lost, and you can do it again.

Take a moment to leave a memorial to your pet on our memorial wall.

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Fur Baby: In Memory of Jill

 

This post is to the memory of Jill, another fur baby that was transitioned a few weeks ago.

To leave your own memorial for your beloved pet please click here.

Dr. Kim Simpson Pet Care Pet Health

Pet Care – Spring and Pollen

Spring is in the air and so is the pollen.  Make sure to keep an eye on your fur babies for signs of allergies.  Some things to look for are:

Runny eyes, scratching, licking at the body, rubbing face on the ground or with their paws, sneezing, shaking their head, ear infections, scooting their bottom on the ground and rubbing their back or sides against furniture.

If you see any of these signs contact your family veterinarian to get help before it turns into skin and ear infections.

PLEASE DO NOT GIVE YOUR FUR BABY ANY OVER THE COUNTER MEDICATION WITH OUT CONSULTING YOUR VETERNARIAN

Happy Spring

 

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Dr. Kim Simpson Senior Pet Care Winter Care

Pet Parents and Fur Babies: Happy 2016!

Happy 2016 to all the pet parents and fur babies. As the calendar turns, the temperature drops. Please be cautious of keeping your fur baby safe and warm this winter. Make sure they are out of the weather in the evenings, also check water dishes to make sure the water is not frozen.

For those older fur babies with arthritis, the cold weather can be rough on them. Make sure they are getting adequate pain control. PLEASE do not give your fur baby any over the counter pain medication.

Keep loving those babies!!

-Kim Simpson, DVM

 

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