Call us directly: 763-755-3595

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.

PrintEmail

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. 

PrintEmail

July is Preventive Care Exam Awareness Month

If you only visit Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital when your pet is injured or sick, you’re missing the opportunity to get a complete picture of her health. The preventive care exam allows Dr. Barr to detect potential health issues and begin monitoring or treating them right away.  By committing to preventive care, you could extend it by months or years. It’s well worth the investment when you consider how much love and joy your pet brings into your life.
 
Our Recommended Schedule for Preventive Care Exams
If your pet is normally healthy and between the ages of 12 months and seven years, an annual exam is usually sufficient. Pets enter middle-age around age seven and their senior years around age 10, so we recommend bi-annual check-ups for pets in this age group. This is when we most often start seeing issues such arthritis, diabetes, and kidney disease. Your puppy or kitten under one year will need to come in several times before his first birthday for routine vaccinations and monitoring.
 
Required vaccines for dogs include canine adenovirus, canine parvovirus, distemper, and rabies. The first shot offers protection for both hepatitis and respiratory disease. Essential vaccines for cats include feline calicivirus, feline panleukopenia, rabies, and rhinotracheitis. Dr. Barr will also discuss several optional vaccines you may want to consider for your pet depending on her species, age, lifestyle, and general health. Unless you plan to breed your dog or cat, we recommend sterilization as soon as possible. We can complete the spay or neuter procedure as early as six months.
 
A Typical Preventive Care Exam
If your pet needs a new vaccine or booster, we will provide it at this appointment. This is also a great time to talk to our staff about any behavioral concerns, parasite prevention, exercise, and diet. We will check your pet for parasites and let you know if we discover any. Our comprehensive preventive care exam also consists of the following:
 
  • Intestinal or stomach problems, which might show up as abnormal stools, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Unusual urinary discharge or mammary gland issues in females
  • Nasal issues, which might include labored breathing, allergies, asthma, coughing, or sneezing
  • Coat and skin for problems with anal sacs, hair loss, pigment changes, or excessive shedding
  • Teeth and gums for oral health diseases
  • Legs and feet for problems such as torn nails, weakness, limping, or joint pain
  • Eyes and ears for signs of normal vision and hearing as well as absence of unusual discharge
  • We will check your pet's weight at each visit to establish a baseline and let you know if we have any concerns about being overweight or underweight
Our staff will complete further diagnostic testing if we notice any potential issues during your pet’s exam. This may include a blood or urine test, x-ray, stool sample, or whatever is necessary to diagnose the health condition. We will contact you with the results as soon as possible and discuss a treatment plan at that time as well.
 
If it’s been more than a year since your adult pet’s last preventive care exam or six months since your senior pet had an exam, please contact us at 763-755-3595 to schedule an appointment. We will let you know our preferred schedule for puppies and kittens the first time you bring your new pet to see us. 

PrintEmail

Preventing and Treating Hot Spots on Your Dog or Cat

Acute moist dermatitis, more commonly known as hot spots, occurs due to a bacterial infection on your pet’s skin. Your dog or cat will naturally bite, chew, lick or scratch his skin in response to an irritant. Unfortunately for your pet, this tends to increase rather than decrease his discomfort. Anal gland disease, allergies to fleas or food ingredients, mange, tick bites, and inadequate grooming are the primary causes of hot spots in companion animals. 
Hot, humid weather can cause excess skin moisture that in turn causes hot spots to develop. It’s especially important to check your pet’s skin for evidence of hot spots now that the weather is consistently warm.
 
How to Recognize Hot Spots
If your dog or cat has developed hot spots, she will exhibit at least a few of these symptoms
  • Lesion that appears red or raised
  • Unexplained swelling
  • Constant licking or chewing a certain spot of her skin
  • A red or brown color around the hot spot
  • Unpleasant smell coming from the affected area
  • Pus and oozing
  • Displaying obvious signs of discomfort or pain
Preventing and Treating Hot Spots
Keeping your pet’s skin healthy is the easiest way to prevent him from developing hot spots. We recommend using year-round flea and tick protection in addition to grooming his coat regularly. Matted fur traps moisture and can attract fleas, ticks, and other parasites. Occasionally, a pet may have a behavioral issue that causes the biting, scratching, and licking that leads to hot spots. If that’s the case with your pet, speak to one of our doctors to help determine what could be causing the unwanted behavior. We are happy to recommend a specific product to prevent parasites as well.

Treatment at Foley Blvd. Animal Hospital typically consists of clipping the fur around the hot spot and cleaning it with a mild anesthetic. A variety of prescriptions or medications to control itching may be appropriate as well. We encourage you to contact us right away if your pet displays any of the potential signs of hot spots described above. Our telephone number is 763-755-3595.

 

PrintEmail