In Memoriam – Ziggy Keeler

April 16th, 2019 by Laurie Brush

Ziggy’s Story:
Ziggy was a character. We met 16 years ago right after I graduated from high school. I went to the local shelter to adopt a kitten that would be my first pet to have on my own. The kittens weren’t ready so my sister and I walked around to see the kitties. I opened his cage and turned to talk to my sister. He leaped out and hung from the back of my shirt. He clearly picked me as his momma and was NOT going to let me leave without him. He was a mess. Had a terrible cold so he had a snotty nose and breath that could knock you out, but he was mine. A month later, after several experiments, we finally figured out he was deaf. This sweet boy has gone through all of my adult life experiences with me and I could always count on him. Even though he couldn’t hear me, he would always be the first to greet me with his crazy meow. He was always so happy to see me – even if I went to the bathroom he would act as if I had been gone for a week and would be happy to see me. His meow you could hear at least a block away and I had to use it several times to track him down when he escaped. He caught himself on fire more times than I can count from candles. He literally smothered me with love. He didn’t care what was going on, he just wanted to love you.

He was my best friend and I miss him so much. It has only been a week but the hole he has left is unbearable. I just hope at the end he knew that I loved him as much as he loved me.


Is Lepto Lurking in That Puddle?

April 11th, 2019 by Heaven At Home Staff

Spring rains bring flowers, but pet peril can lurk in standing water, mud puddles, and even swollen rivers and ponds. Invisible bacteria, 250 strains strong, lurk in warm, wet, stagnant areas. Leptospira can fight for survival for months in these areas after being shed by wildlife and rodents when they urinate.

Leptospirosis is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can affect both dogs and humans, and be transmitted from dogs to humans. It can cause severe kidney or liver failure, meningitis, difficulty breathing, and in some cases, lead to death. In some dogs, for reasons unknown, it can also be asymptomatic.

In recent years, pet health officials have watched the incidence rate increase across North America, so much so that the AKC Canine Health Foundation has funded two studies this year to explore the prevalence of “Lepto” and the immune response in dogs exposed to the bacteria.

While flood-prone areas and hurricane sites are at particular risk, Michigan is not immune to Lepto outbreaks. Statewide, incidents have been on the rise since 2015, according to the Michigan Veterinary Medical Association.

“Anywhere you have wildlife, leptospirosis can be spread into the environment through their urine,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

“Prevention, and early detection, are paramount for your pet’s health,” she said. Ten to 15% of dogs diagnosed and treated will still succumb to the disease.

In order for a dog to get leptospirosis, they must have contact with an infected animal’s urine, which enters the body through wounds or mucous membranes (eyes, open mouth). Dogs most often get Lepto by drinking out of stagnant water sources, such as puddles.

Early signs of Lepto include: 

  • Loss of appetite
  • Increase or decrease in urine production
  • Uncharacteristic inactivity
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain
  • Severe weakness and depression
  • Stiffness
  • Fever

The Veterinary community suspects that the cause of the rise in cases is two-fold. The CDC is investigating the appearance of new serovars, or strains of the bacteria. The vaccine does not protect against all strains. In addition, since the vaccine only lasts for a year, it is now typically delivered separately from core three-year vaccines, which gives pet parents the opportunity to skip the vaccination.

“While the vaccine is imperfect, it is the best prevention available against this disease. With such serious consequences, it’s worth discussion with your routine care veterinarian,” Dr. Brush said.

Even if your pet is vaccinated, avoid allowing them to drink standing water or eat animal carcasses since the vaccine does not inoculate against all strains of Leptospira.

Remember that early diagnosis is critical for an improved outlook, so if your pet shows early signs and is deteriorating quickly, treat it as an emergency. And since Leptospirosis can be transmitted to humans, practice good hygiene.

CDC Guidelines for Handling Pets with Leptospirosis:

  • Do not handle or come in contact with urine, blood, or tissues from your infected pet before it has received proper treatment.
  • If you need to have contact with animal tissues or urine, wear protective clothing, such as gloves and boots, especially if you are occupationally at risk (veterinarians, farm workers, and sewer workers).
  • As a general rule, always wash your hands after handling your pet or anything that might have your pet’s excrement on it.
  • If you are cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated or have urine from an infected pet on them, use an antibacterial cleaning solution or a solution of 1 part household bleach in 10 parts water.
  • Make sure that your infected pet takes all of its medicine and follow up with your veterinarian.

Identifying and Coping with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

April 1st, 2019 by Heaven At Home Staff

Fido finds himself in a corner and seems confused. Lately, he’s spent hours staring into space. He doesn’t feel like playing with his human. Other times, he gets stuck behind furniture or acts afraid of people he once greeted joyfully. Sometimes he barks for no reason, and paces at night. And then there were those “accidents” on the living room floor, right after he’d been outside…

Fido’s loyal human thinks these are just symptoms of old age. But Fido knows something’s not right.

These symptoms, among others, could point to Canine Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CCD), a disease similar to Alzheimer’s, where tissue changes in the brain block normal communication between neurons. Both Humans and dogs can develop beta-amyloid plaques on their brains.

As many as 85% of CCD cases are undiagnosed, according to the Washington State University’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital. And while there is no cure, there are things you can do to help.

“The goal is to slow the disease’s progress and improve the quality of life. Treatment may involve medication, an enhanced diet, and management of the environment and behavior,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

“For example, ensuring play, structured social interaction and exposure to sunlight will help with engagement and regulation of the sleep-wake cycle.”

The first step, she said, is to see your routine care veterinarian to rule out any other medical cause for the symptoms, which might be reversed. But if your pet is diagnosed with CCD, the following tips may help:

  • Similar to puppy-proofing, senior-proof you home by making sure there are no spaces where he or she might get trapped. This may include gating off safe areas.
  • Use runners to help your dog remember the layout of the home. Dogs with dementia often end up in corners.
  • Place food at optimal heights to see.
  • Use night lights to minimize night time anxiety
  • Engage your dog with games and activity to stimulate his or her brain.
  • Even if you need assistive devices, include daily outdoor exercise, sunlight and play sessions.
  • Be aware for some dogs, dementia can also cause failure in animal-to-animal communication or increase aggression.

Most importantly, give yourself, and your loyal companion, the most pleasant present moments you can, and enjoy those sunset years.

Need help with a fur-friend suffering from CCD? Contact Us for an appointment.

 


 
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