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Senior Pet Care

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Common Problems For Senior Pets

Common Problems For Senior Pets - paws at peace pet hospiceAs our senior pets age, just like us they will find it harder to fight off infections, and their immune system will not be as good as it used to be, and they will also develop some health conditions. Having said that, it can be easy to put any changes in their behavior down to aging, but it is always better to be safe than sorry, and take them to the vet if anything seems out of the ordinary. Moreover, let us take a look at some of the more common problems for senior pets and what to look for.

One of the most common problems in senior dogs is gum disease, which may not seem such a big deal, but if left untreated can lead to some serious health issues. In addition, gum inflammation, or gingivitis can lead to gum disease, which is where the gums actually pull away from the teeth, and thus this creates pockets, which can then become infected, and even lead to bone loss. Gum disease can even lead to infections in the blood, in turn leading to possible serious damage to one, or more of the internal organs, so be sure to take him for regular checkups, especially if you notice bleeding or swollen gums or gums that are tender and red.

Another condition that is becoming more, and more common today in our senior pets is Diabetes, and usually occurs in dogs around the age of 8 or 9. Diabetes is basically improper functioning of insulin in the body, and can often be hereditary, and is more common in females than in males. Symptoms of Diabetes are weight loss, irritability, increased urination and thirst, and cuts that heal slowly, or slow healing bruises, if you notice any of these signs then it is probably a good idea to have a vet check him out.

Blindness is a condition that we’d rather not think of as a common disease in senior dogs, but it is a process that occurs over time especially in many older dogs, yet it doesn’t have to change their lives drastically due to their amazing smell and hearing. Senior dogs that have gone blind can be fine outside on a leash, and they can navigate their home environment without any problems as long as furniture isn’t moved around too frequently. Early signs of deteriorating eyesight is Cataracts, which is a white covering over the eye, while other more obvious signs are bumping into things, falling down and red or irritated eyes.

Cancer is the leading cause of death in senior dogs, and is not very often diagnosed with blood tests in its early stages, so it is important for us senior dog owners to check them out frequently. That being said, be certain to check for lumps, or bumps that shouldn’t be there, bleeding from the ears, nose or mouth, sores or cuts that heal slowly and weight loss. Other things to watch for would be blood in the stool, diarrhea or constipation. However, these are not guaranteed signs of cancer, but if you do notice any of these signs it is always best to get them checked out, cancer has a good success rate if caught early on.

Finally, although there are many common problems for our senior pets, not every pet will get one or more of these conditions mentioned, and if they do develop one or more of these problems, many are treatable if caught early on. Having said that, being a responsible pet owner means that we should check them over thoroughly once in a while, be aware of any changes in their behavior and mood, and report these changes when you see your vet. Regular checkups, and good communication with your vet is important, and can play a vital role in detecting conditions early on, so even if you think a change in your pets behavior is insignificant, tell the vet anyway, it could just save his life, and help him to easily enjoy his senior years too.

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Keeping Your Senior Pet Comfortable During The Winter Months

Keeping Your Senior Pet Comfortable During The Winter Months - Paws At Peace

Winter time can be harsh on both humans and animals, and although we can take medications, and wrap up warm our senior pets rely on us to look after them. Winter time is the time for joint pain, colds, sores, and worsening health conditions, but we can do a lot to help our senior pets to have a more comfortable time during these cold months. Having said that, let us take a good look at some things we can do to help our pets have a nice time even during the winter, and be more comfortable so they don’t have to suffer at all.

One of the first things to think about during the winter is where your senior pet is sleeping, because where he sleeps during the summer months may not be appropriate during the colder weather. Make sure there are no constantly opening doors where he sleeps, or relaxes as the hot, and cold air can be hazardous to his arthritis if he has any associated joint pain. A warm room that stays at a constant temperature will be much better for him as well as a comfortable bed.

When it comes to beds for senior pets, this may be a good time to purchase a new one, especially if he has had his bed for a long time. Manufacturers are constantly thinking of new ways to improve products, and more recently you can buy special beds that have memory foam or foam that forms to your pets body when he lays down. These orthopedic type beds are ideal for senior pets, especially those that suffer from arthritis, any type of joint issues, and hip dysplasia, making them much more comfortable and able to get better sleep.

Another thing we have to think about when it comes to our senior pets is when it snows, or there is ice on the sidewalks and roads, as it can be very hazardous for them. Even though dogs, and cats have nice furry coats, their paws can be affected by the cold, ice, and salt that is put down on these surfaces, making them sore and prone to cracking, which in turn can lead to infections. Therefore, you may want to consider giving them some boots, or booties to wear to help protect their paws while outside.

Depending on the breed of your dog, you may also want to consider a dog jacket, or coat to protect them, especially in areas where the temperature can go below freezing, or areas where it gets very damp and cold. Generally, the larger dog breeds with heavy coats, like the Labrador or German Shepherd Dog do not require a coat, but with smaller dogs with much less hair or fur, the cold wind can penetrate their coat easily. Many of these relatively new products out on the market now are very affordable, and if you buy them off season ready for next year you can often get large discounts, making it a worthwhile purchase.

One of the main concerns with senior pets during winter months is joint pain, this can be for a number of reasons, and as we all know pain is not very nice. However, talk to your vet about adding some Glucosamine, and Chondroitin to his diet, which helps to lubricate their joints, which even in a healthy pet can stiffen up in the winter time and become painful. Moreover, you should not stop exercising your senior pet during the colder months, in fact you should keep up with regular exercise to avoid stiffening of the joints.

During winter you may also want to take your senior pet to the vet for a checkup, as our pets age much quicker than we do, and can develop conditions fairly quickly compared to us. Also, look out for unusual behavior during the cold months, like your pet may not want to go upstairs, or climb onto a bed that he used to do all the time, this could be an early sign that he is having joint problems. Protecting your senior pet from the rigors of nature is not so hard to do, and it will make for a much comfortable life for him during these potentially dangerous months, and he may even live longer for it too.

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Comfort Products For Senior Dogs

Comfort Products For Senior DogsWe all want to make sure our senior dogs are healthy, and comfortable in their later years, and with many products that are out on the market today we can make their lives even more comfortable. Having said that, some products can even help prolong their life, especially if they suffer with certain conditions like joint problems. Therefore, in this article we will take a closer look at some of the products that will make a senior dog’s life more comfortable, as well as help them to improve his quality of life, so read on to learn more.

Boots Or Booties

Boots, or booties as they are often referred to, are not just for looks or people that pamper their pets, they actually serve a purpose that your dog will be grateful for. Boots will stop them from slipping on icy surfaces in the winter, and also protect their paws from the toxic additives when salt is laid on the road or pavement. Also in winter, many dogs that walk on icy, or snowy surfaces suffer with sore paws that can lead to infection, so booties actually have a practical use for your senior dog as well as younger dogs too for that matter.

Orthopedic Mattress

These mattresses make a huge difference to the quality of life for your senior dog, especially larger dogs that can suffer with joint and back issues. These mattresses are not only comfortable for your senior dog, but are extremely practical with dogs that suffer with arthritis, and other aches and pain conditions. Moreover, they can be extremely affordable, and can last the whole dogs life, and even if you start a younger dog on a orthopedic mattress, it will help him later in life easily.

Steps And Ramps

You can now purchase steps, or ramps for your senior dog, which can be a great help for those senior dogs that have trouble getting to higher places due to joint issues. Many older dogs cannot get up on a sofa, or couch that they so used to love, or some that are used to sleeping on their owners bed just can’t jump up anymore due to arthritis or other conditions. However, by purchasing a ramp, or step it can make their life much easier, and get them to where they are most comfortable without too much effort, and it makes it easier on their limbs.

Life Vests

This may sound a strange idea until you actually think about it, many dogs live near water of some kind like a river, lake, pond or even the ocean, and they probably love to swim. The life vest is a precautionary garment that is very practical as your dog gets older, because his limbs aren’t as strong as they used to be, and the life vest will protect them if they get worn out or tired while swimming in the water. Swimming is great exercise for all dogs, because is uses virtually every muscle in the body, and is also therapeutic, yet it is also a good idea to ensure their safety by fitting a life vest before they go into the water.

Hind Limb Harness And Slings

The hind limb harness, or slings are both great products for senior dogs that have joint problems, arthritis, or just have problems walking, especially those that are paralyzed. Hind limb harnesses attach to the dogs rear end, and attach to a handle so that you can support their back legs, and many owners have said that without the harness their dog would not be able to get out and about. In addition, the slings are designed to fit under the abdomen to support the hips, and are made with a padded or cushioned underside for comfort.

There are many products out on the market for dogs that are just gimmicks, or do not serve a real purpose, but every so often there are products that come out, which do actually help. The products we have looked at here today provide both practical, and health benefits to make life easier for your senior dog. Moreover, some of these products can actually add years to your dog’s life, and make life much more comfortable for them, whether it be getting in, and out of a bed or couch, or having much needed relief for their arthritis.

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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.

Dr. Kim Simpson Senior Dogs Senior Pet Care

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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Taking Care Of Senior Pets In Their Golden Years

Senior Pet CareAs pet owners we all know that sooner, or later our best friend is going to get old, just as we do, but what can we do about giving him the best quality of life in his last few years? Many dogs after the age of about 7, or 8 are classed as senior pets, and depending on their health, there are quite a few things we can do to make life a little easier for him. In this article we will take a closer look at our senior best friends to see what we can do to make things a little more comfortable for him, after all, he’s made our life happier over the years, now let’s see what we can do in return.

One of the first things we need to do when our pet reaches his senior status is to schedule vet visits twice a year instead of once per year. That said, six months is quite a long time in terms of dog years, and a lot can happen in just six months when it comes to their health. Moreover, dental issues, joint issues, and many other conditions can set in, so it’s best to have a check up twice yearly. Any conditions that our best friend has developed can be relieved by medications or even diet, and if it’s a condition that can’t be treated there may be medications that can ease his pain if he is suffering.

Keep in mind, that diet should be one of the things we look at when our dog gets older, because their digestive system may become more sensitive, and their teeth may not be as strong. Therefore, looking at different types of food may be a good thing, because a softer food can make it easier to chew, or even a food that is easier on the digestive system can be better for him too. Having said that, don’t just run out, and buy a softer food, talk with your vet to see what he recommends, because he may even give you supplements to go with the new food or recommend a home made diet.

Another thing that is important in our dogs senior years is keeping up with parasite control, as their immune system isn’t what it used to be. Fleas, ticks and other parasites can spread disease, and our older dog can’t always fight off infection like he used to, so make sure he is taking flea and tick preventatives. Moreover, you should be treating him for heart worm monthly, because heart worm is even more dangerous in older dogs, and can kill any dog if not treated.

Exercise is another thing we need to keep our eye on, because he may not be able to walk for that same hour that he did just six months ago. We know exercise will keep him from becoming overweight, and is good for him, but at the same time he may not be able to walk as far or for as long now. However, you know your dog better than anyone, so paying attention to him when exercising is important, as you may be able to spot when he has had enough, or you may be able to tell if he is having any joint issues.

When it comes to our senior pets you may want to consider looking at your environment to see if you can do anything to make his life a little easier. Senior dogs are more prone to developing joint conditions, so if he is used to going up and down stairs often maybe you can change things so he can stay downstairs. Monitoring him when he is out in the garden could be essential too due to changes in temperatures. Keep in mind, that they can get heat stroke more easily during hot weather, and he is also less likely to defend himself against other animals.

Finally, we never like to discuss the inevitable, our best friend passing away yet we know it will happen, just as it does with family members and relatives. Therefore, the best approach is to treat every day as a golden opportunity to create a lasting memory with him, take a video or some pictures, so you can look back and enjoy the memories and share them with family and friends. Enjoy, and embrace those moments you used to take for granted, and set aside an hour or, so a day to just snuggle up with him, give him a treat, go for a walk, or just talk to him and let him know you love him just as much as you did the day you got him.

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Senior Pet – Taking Care Of A Senior Dogs During The Summer Heat

Senior Dog Summer HeatMost dog owners want what is best for their best friend, and that includes giving them healthy meals, a good bed, playtime and exercise, but not every owner knows the dangers of heat stroke. Heat stroke in dogs is a killer, and believe it or not thousands of owners lose their best friends each year to this deadly condition, yet it is preventable. Every dog can suffer from heat stroke, but it is especially the older dogs where it can set in much quicker, and if you know the signs to look for you can prevent it before it reaches the deadly stage.

First of all let us explain a little about how heat stroke comes about in our dogs to help our readers to learn what to watch out for. if, a dog’s temperature reaches 104 then it’s way of cooling itself becomes impaired, such as panting. Once his body mechanisms become overwhelmed then heat stroke can set in. That said, during this time as the temperature rises even further, other body functions start to fail, like the neurologic, circulatory, blood clotting and urinary systems, after which there is little chance of saving him. However, if you know the signs to look for early on, then he won’t get to this point, but sometimes without the knowledge we can inadvertently be harming him without even knowing it.

There are many signs of heat stress, or heat exhaustion that we need to pay attention to, especially in the warmer climates, even in the low 80’s dogs can get heat stroke, depending on where they are. If a dog is walking more slower than usual, or seemingly having trouble keeping up with you just walking, or if he is seeking out shady areas, and wanting to stop frequently these can be early signs. Moreover, prolonged and persistent panting as well as loud, or labored breathing can also be a warning sign.

Wide eyes or stressed eyes and increased anxiety in a dog can also be a sign of heat stress, although not all dogs will show all symptoms, any combination of what has been mentioned should be taken seriously. Having said that, if a dog is in a vehicle they can suffer very quickly from heat stroke, and early warning signs here could be barking, pacing, seeking out shelter under a seat or dashboard, and clawing at the windows or seats in an attempt to escape. Many dogs that die of heat stroke are simply because the owner left them in the car too long, even with a window down a couple of inches, this is because the heat in a car can be as much as 20 degrees hotter than outside the car.

Signs of heat stroke are obviously more serious, and immediate medical attention needs to be sort, especially if you notice a dog vomiting or having diarrhea, possibly with blood, drooling, eyes glazed over, staggering, seizures or even collapsing. One study showed that the temperature in a car can rise up to over 40 F in just one hour, the same study revealed that even on a mild day at 72 the temperature inside a car reached 93 F in just ten minutes. Therefore, it is highly recommended that if you have to leave your dog in a vehicle for more than 5 minutes, don’t take him with you, especially if you cannot let him out for a drink of water.

Because dogs do not have sweat glands like us, they can’t sweat to cool off, they only have panting, so they need to be cooled down in other ways, like giving them plenty of cool water to drink. in Addition, on hot days you can fill a child’s paddling pool, and let the dog soak his paws in the cool water, which can help cool him off too. However, make sure there is plenty of shade in the garden or yard area where you plan to set the pool up at. Having said that, if there is no natural shade like trees, then you could put a gazebo up, or a thick sheet or blanket to provide some shade.

The main concern with dog owners in the summer heat should be to keep the dog at a reliably cool temperature, remember he has a fur coat, so if it feels warm to you, then it’s probably hot for him. Taking him for walks early in the morning, or after dark when it’s cooler could work better than midday, and having an air conditioner in the home that he can lay in front of will benefit him greatly. Moreover, one should also remember that hot ashpalt, or paved areas can also add to heat stroke, so a grassy area would be better than a hard surface. Finally, by providing some of these things mentioned, along with what now seems logical solutions for him to cool off with, you may just be saving his life.

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Pet Care: Mosquitoes and heartworms

mosquitos and dogsWith all the heavy rain and now the humid heat the mosquitoes are out in force.  Our fur babies are at a high risk for heart worms from mosquito bites.  It is VERY important to keep them on heart-worm prevention ALL the time.  Even if your fur baby is ” an in door dog or cat”  they still go out to eliminate, (if they are eliminating in the house then you have a different issue and need to call me)  and you still have to open the door so you and your family can come and go from the house.  Heart-worms are deadly and very expensive to treat.  All it takes is one pill once a month to protect your fur baby.

After all they are worth it😍

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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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