Call us directly: 763-755-3595

Silver Muzzles and Golden Years

A baby’s first birthday is a bittersweet milestone for parents because it’s hard to believe how much their son or daughter changed in just a year. When compared with the lifespan of our pets, it’s important to note that our pets age more quickly than we do. Although our pets reach their “golden years” at varying times based on breed, size and species, at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital  we recommend bi-annual preventive care exams starting when your pet reaches his senior years. Because of pet’s accelerated aging, new health concerns can appear in very subtle ways, and early detection is the key to keeping your pet as healthy as possible.
 
Most Common Health Conditions of Older Pets
Dogs and cats experience many of the same age-related health conditions that people do. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the most prevalent ones include:
 
Cancer: Cancer is the number one killer of both dogs and cats over age 10, with mast cell tumors most common in dogs and leukemia in cats. Some signs that your older pet could have cancer include slow-healing wounds, behavior changes, weight loss, fatigue, and lack of appetite.
 
Kidney disease: Healthy kidneys are essential for proper waste elimination. When the kidneys become diseased, your pet’s urine and feces remain trapped inside her body. This can cause significant pain, vomiting, weight loss, incontinence, and greater thirst.
 
Diabetes: Pets are becoming just as inactive and obese as people are. In fact, more than half of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. This increases the risk of diabetes, but a pet doesn’t have to weigh too much to develop the disease. Some signs to look for include increased thirst, increased urination, irritability, fatigue, weight loss, and vision disturbances.
 
Arthritis: Your pet can develop arthritis when cartilage, which acts as a cushioning between bones, starts to wear down. This results in the bones rubbing together and causing pain. You may notice that your dog or cat uses some limbs at the exclusion of others, walks with a stiff gait, seems reluctant to jump, or vocalizes loudly when you pick him up.
 
Senility: Mild cognitive impairment is so common in the senior years that approximately half of all dogs and cats show some signs of it. You may notice a change in personality or a regression in previously learned skills. It’s important to remain patient and not punish your pet for something she can’t control.
 
Maximize Your Pet’s Health in the Senior Years
Unlike people who can voice their discomfort, animals have a natural tendency to hide when they feel sick or in pain. Regular preventive care is essential because it allows us to detect health issues you could easily miss. Between appointments, you can improve your pet’s quality of life with joint medication, supplements, toys to keep cognition sharp, and many other inexpensive pet supplies. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (763) 755-3595 with questions about senior pet care or to schedule an appointment.
 
 
Image Credit:
Credit: jirousova/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

Print Email

Halloween Can Be a Scary Holiday for Pets

As much as you and your children might enjoy Halloween, this particular holiday can be a stressful one for pets. They don’t understand why you have decorations and carved pumpkins with candles in them around the house and naturally feel curious enough to investigate. Your dog or cat may end up swallowing something inedible or even starting a fire by knocking over a candle. These are just two of several Halloween safety concerns to keep in mind. Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital wants to provide the following safety tips to help keep your pets safe and happy during the month of October.

 

Don’t Share Your Candy

If anyone breaks out the treats before Halloween, instruct them not to share with the family pet regardless of how much he stares at them with sad eyes. Chocolate is especially problematic for pets because it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms associated with gastric distress. The artificial sweetener Xylitol may cause similar problems.

 

Pets Should Remain Indoors

The doorbell ringing and seeing groups of excited children at the door can be too much for your pet to handle. He may try to slip out the door or even become aggressive. To avoid these issues, plan to keep your dog or cat in an area of the house where you can close the door, and reduce noise and anxiety causing stimuli.  Be sure to provide his food, bedding, and toys while he stays in the room and check in frequently to make sure he’s okay.

 

Another reason pets should stay inside is that October 31 tends to bring out people who like to play pranks or are deliberately cruel to animals. Due to unfounded superstitions about them, this is especially true of black cats. The problem is so widespread that many animal shelters will not allow people to adopt a black cat on or near Halloween.

 

How to Choose a Safe Costume

Some stores sell such adorable Halloween costumes for pets that it can be hard to resist buying one. If you choose to dress up your dog or cat, be sure you’re always nearby to supervise. Ensure he has no breathing obstructions and can see clearly. Very importantly, watch him carefully for signs of irritation, discomfort or fear which may indicate that he is probably not enjoying being dressed up for the event. Also remember that your pet might chew on the costume and end up swallowing a piece of it. A close eye on your pet’s environment is definitely a “must” for Halloween.

 

Should you experience an emergency with your pet, call us at (763) 755-3595. If it is after hours, you’ll be directed for the appropriate number to call.  Happy Halloween from the staff of Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital!

 

Image credit:

JasonOndreicka / Stock / Getty Images Plus

Print Email

Preventive Care Helps Your Senior Pet Age Well

You may have heard that one year in a dog or cat’s life is equivalent to seven years for a human. That isn’t quite accurate. According to the American Veterinary Association, the aging formula for companion animals goes more like this:
  • Fifteen human years by the end of the first year
  • An additional nine human years for the second year
  • An additional five human years for each year thereafter
No matter how you calculate it, there’s no denying that dogs and cats age significantly faster than people do. Many begin to experience health problems associated with middle age around age seven and officially become seniors by age ten. That’s why we recommend more frequent preventive care exams for pets starting around midlife. When you consider that one year is like five years for an older pet, it makes sense to come in for a check-up at least twice a year.
 
Common Health Issues in Senior Pets
We tend to diagnose these problems more often in middle-aged and senior dogs and cats than we do in younger ones:
 
Arthritis: The cartilage in bones acts as a cushion to prevent them from rubbing together. The normal aging process causes the cartilage to wear away, which leads to inflammation and pain. Some indications your pet could have arthritis include loud vocalizing when you pick her up, stiff gait when walking, reluctance to jump, and over-reliance on some limbs while avoiding using others.
 
Cancer: The three most common types of cancer in cats include squamous cell carcinoma, lymphoma, and soft-tissue sarcoma. Dogs present most often with hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and osteosarcoma. Look for early signs such as unintended weight loss, low energy, behavior changes, and slow-healing wounds.
 
Diabetes: Aging, obesity, genetic inheritance, and several other factors can cause the pancreas to produce inadequate amounts of insulin, which gives your pet energy. Typical symptoms of diabetes in pets include irritability, increased need to urinate, fatigue, unintended weight loss, and distorted vision.
 
Kidney disease: Toxins can start building in your dog or cat’s kidneys and cause her extreme pain. Your pet needs healthy kidneys to properly eliminate waste products. Waste material remaining in the body can cause infection. Symptoms to look for include soiling accidents, vomiting, weight loss, fatigue, and increased desire for water.
 
Senility: Cognitive changes affect at least half of all senior dogs and cats. Your pet may display agitation, aggressive behavior, or anxiety that he’s never shown in the past. He may also forget skills he’s already learned. Soiling accidents are common at this stage.
 
Help Your Senior Pet Age Gracefully
Bi-annual preventive care exams at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital allow our veterinarians to detect and treat new health issues as soon as possible. Remember that dogs and cats are masters at disguising pain and that you might not even notice anything is wrong. This goes back to their evolutionary need not to appear weak to predators. The sooner we spot an issue, the sooner your pet can feel better.

Print Email

Kids Headed Back to School? Watch Your Pet for Signs of Separation Anxiety

It’s August, and that means millions of kids go back to school either this month or by early September. After a long summer together that was probably more unstructured than the school year, both your kids and pets might not be ready for the change. While your children can express their anxious feelings, your pets can’t do the same. Don’t feel surprised if your dog or cat expresses longing for his young friends in a variety of ways. The most common signs of separation anxiety include:
  • Destructive chewing
  • Howling by dogs and loud vocalizations for cats
  • Lack of appetite
  • Pacing
  • Soiling in the house
  • Trying to escape the yard to run after your children
Cats may also groom themselves excessively to the point of causing bald spots. While dogs tend to become more aggressive when feeling anxious, cats may hide and show more fearful behavior.
 
Distract Your Pet When Your Children Leave
Distraction is a useful tool in helping to keep your pet’s mind off her friend who has gone to school. For dogs, try filling a Kong with peanut butter or another favorite treat that she must work to uncover. A catnip-filled mouse will help distract your cat from what’s taking place at the front door. If other people are home, someone should interact with the pet while your children leave to catch the bus. If everyone leaves the house at the same time, be sure that your dog or cat gets plenty of attention from at least one person.
 
Provide a Stimulating Environment When Your Pet is Home Alone
Be sure to rotate your pet’s toys frequently if he must be alone for long periods. The toys will be a novelty and help him feel less lonely. Dogs love any chew toy and need a comfortable place to sleep for naps. Your cat should have scratching posts, one or more perches to look out the window, hiding places, and toys as well. Leaving soft music on in the background while your family is away can help to calm anxiety also.
 
Both dogs and cats have a strong sense of smell and associate different aromas with their human family. It can be a comfort to your pet to leave something out that your children wear or use often as it will contain their unique human scent.
 
Make Sure Your Pet Gets Plenty of Attention
Your pet will adjust to the back-to-school change more quickly if everyone in the family gives her several minutes of undivided attention when they are home. This reassures her that she’s still an important part of the family and that no one has forgotten about her. Be sure to include your pet in family activities whenever possible.
 
Schedule an Appointment with Us if Your Pet’s Anxiety Persists
Some pets have a more difficult time with schedule changes than others. If you have tried these tips and your dog or cat remains highly anxious, request an appointment at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital. One of our doctors can provide you with additional ideas, such as full or part-time doggy daycare for dogs. In severe cases, they can prescribe anti-anxiety medication. 

Print Email