Signs of Pain in Cats & Dogs from the IVAPM

August 31st, 2020 by Heaven At Home Staff

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, during which time the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management educates pet parents on signs of pain in their companion animals. As providers of pet hospice at home, Heaven at Home would like to take this opportunity to help pet parents ensure that their cats and dogs do not suffer needlessly as they age. Our hospice veterinarians are available for Quality of Life telemedicine consultations to help pet parents evaluate pain in their senior pets.

Can you imagine not being able to tell your doctor that you were in pain? Animals suffer from pain just like we do. Pain comes in many forms: surgical pain, arthritis, and cancer, just to name a few. Acute pain is obvious and distressing. Chronic pain can be subtle, and masked as “getting old” or “slowing down.” Age is not a disease, but pain is. There are many options to treat the various causes of pain in animals including pain medications, physical rehabilitation, and acupuncture. In addition, there are many environmental strategies that can help reduce pain, such as slip-proof and padded flooring, altered-height feeding, ramps, and other supports. Contact us if you’d like assistance identifying and managing pain in your aging pet. Here are some of the key signs to watch for:

Common Signs of Pain in Dogs

  • Decreased social interaction
  • Anxious expression
  • Submissive behavior
  • Refusal to move
  • Whimpering
  • Howling
  • Growling
  • Guarding behavior
  • Aggression; biting
  • Decreased appetite
  • Self-mutilation (chewing)
  • Changes in posture

Common Signs of Pain in Cats

  • Reduced activity
  • Loss of appetite
  • Quiet/loss of curiosity
  • Changes in urinary/defecation habits
  • Hiding
  • Hissing or spitting
  • Lack of agility/jumping
  • Excessive licking/grooming
  • Stiff posture/gait
  • Guarding behavior
  • Stops grooming/matted fur
  • Tail flicking
  • Weight loss

Download or Share this Poster that illustrates Signs of Pain in Pets

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Managing Pet Incontinence In Cats and Dogs

August 30th, 2020 by Heaven At Home Staff

A cute havanese dog in heat is wearing a specialty diaper to absorp the discharge

For many pet owners, the cause of incontinence in their fur family member can be as simple as a highly treatable UTI (urinary tract infection) or the harbinger of serious disease.

“Many pet parents struggle with incontinence issues, especially with senior dogs and cats. But there are a number of simple things that can be done to help manage incontinence,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

In Younger Dogs & Cats

Uncharacteristic bouts of incontinence in young companion animals can signal a wide range of ailments, from urinary tract infections to hormone imbalances. Sometimes incontinence can be caused by endocrine disorders (such as Cushing’s and Addison’s disease) diabetes, kidney or liver disease, polyps or cancerous growths in the urinary tract or prostate and bladder stones.

“A trip to your routine care veterinarian will help rule out serious disease and give you treatment options, such as antibiotics, phenylpropanolamine or hormone therapy,” Dr. Brush said.

However, in cases caused by advancing age or a life-limiting disease, proactive palliative home care can help keep your pet comfortable.

“Incontinence is often a trigger for pet parents to evaluate the pet’s quality of life. But it doesn’t necessarily have to mean an early close to your pet’s life story,” Brush said.

Home Management

The three key goals to successful home-management is keeping your pet comfortable, reducing the cleanup time required, and ensuring that you are providing veterinary oversight for medical interventions that may improve the situation. There are many medications and supplements that can help, whether provided by a home hospice service or your routine care veterinarian.

For Dogs:

  • Use waterless shampoo to keep your pet’s skin clean to avoid urine scald.
  • Use absorbent waterproof bedding that’s easy to change and wash, such as medical supply waterproof pee pads.
  • Use bloomers or belly-band style diapers with disposable inserts.
  • Create a “safe” space where accidents are easy to clean for when you’re away.

Especially For Cats:

  • Use flat litter pans that are easy to access or cut out a lower access.
  • Consider keeping litter pans on a main floor.
  • Ensure good pain management since arthritic pain often prevents use of the litter box.
  • Pursue diagnosis for Feline Cognitive Dysfunction or anxiety.

If you’d like more help managing senior pet incontinence,  contact us for a consultation.

 

 


In Memoriam: Kayla

August 6th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Kayla’s Story:
Kayla, Kayla, the girl with the chocolate eyes on a licorice face with a paint brush tail is a little poem we created for our beautiful girl when she was a little pup. We adopted Kayla after the loss of one of our cats in honor of him. Kayla was an active, social, & super intelligent dog. She opened doors (& let the cat out), jumped from high levels, and opened the gate to take off to her friend’s house. She had many friends that would stop to play in our old neighborhood in PA. We relocated to MI when she was 4 and she quickly found new friends here too. We will miss our beautiful, loyal and wise companion.

We are so grateful to the staff of Heaven at Home for what they do. Our last day with Kayla came quicker than planned, and from the first call I was treated with such compassion. They were able to accommodate us quickly as Kayla was shutting down. This was our first family dog and we are so grateful for the opportunity to have her final moments be at home with our family all around. We bonded with Dr. Katie Tillman and were so touched by her level of care and compassion. We will never forget our experience with letting Kayla go peacefully at home and could not have asked for a better person to help Kayla and our family. Thank you, Dr. Tillman and Heaven at Home.


In Memoriam: Duke

August 6th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Duke’s Story:
He showed up on my Facebook feed. Duke. A 10 year old golden retriever at the Animal Shelter. How does a ten year old golden end up at the shelter? I messaged them and asked if he was available. I went to meet him. “He sleeps 23 hours a day” I was told. He smelled horrible. He had just been neutered and couldn’t be bathed for a week. His breath was wicked. It didn’t matter. He was mine. I brought him home to a four year old brother, a golden retriever named Micah. Micah had anxiety issues and wasn’t happy to have a brother…in the beginning. Duke settled in and soon began to win the hearts of family, friends and neighbors. He was the kindest and most loving dog I’ve ever met. Micah adjusted and they were best buddies. When it was time for a walk, Duke did a happy dance. He loved to visit neighbors. And they all loved Duke. When the Pandemic started, I noticed him vomiting and having diarrhea. It came and it went. I held off as long as I could and took him to the vet. It’s likely cancer they said. I was heartbroken. When I brought him home, I was thinking I would give him a great six months or year. It was just short of three. I called Heaven at Home next. It was so important to me that Duke leave this world in the place he felt most loved and cherished. When I made the decision that it was time, I was having to help Duke up and down. He ate less and was losing weight. But I wanted Duke to go while he was still having quality of life and dignity. The night before we sat at ate chocolate chip cookies together. He was tired but happy. Dr Tay came the next afternoon and Duke immediately went up to her and leaned on her, because he was quite sure she wanted to love on him too. She was so kind and patient. I told her his story. It was peaceful for Duke, heartbreaking for me. But doing the right thing when it comes to our pets always is. I am so grateful for all the amazing staff at Heaven at Home who have such a difficult job and do it with such class and grace. Rest in Peace Duke.


Dehydration in the Dog Days of Summer

August 1st, 2020 by Heaven At Home Staff

Good hydration is key during the “dog days of summer.” Dogs can become seriously ill – or even die – from losing as little as 10-15% of their body’s water. Dogs need at least an ounce of water per pound of weight daily – more if active. Hot weather makes dogs pant more and sweat through their paws.

“Dehydration can promote urinary tract issues, the formation of kidney stones, and organ failure. It can be a veterinary emergency,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. “Senior dogs are at a higher risk.”

Symptoms may include lethargy, weakness, labored breathing, an elevated heart rate, and dry, sticky-feeling gums or sunken eyes.

How Can I Tell If My Dog Is Dehydrated?

Your pet’s mucous membranes should be moist. The easiest way to evaluate this is to check their gums. If they are sticky or dry when you run your finger over their gums, your pet may be mildly dehydrated.

If your pet is ill or has other symptoms, you can check further for dehydration by lifting a pinch of skin at the back of your pet’s neck/shoulder area and letting go. The skin should snap quickly back into place. If your pet is severely dehydrated, the skin may stick together, and form a “tent.” In this case, call your veterinarian immediately.

Improving Hydration

 You might think drinking enough water is a simple biological function but in truth there are a number of things that put dogs off their water:

  • Lack of water freshness/dust and debris
  • Water bowl is in a high-traffic area
  • Water bowl is at an uncomfortable height
  • Dog is distracted by play activity and lacks access
  • Dog feels unwell or nauseous, or is in too much discomfort to seek water

During hot weather, keep a water bottle nearby and take frequent H20 breaks during play, but note that deep-chested, large-breed dogs should not consume large volumes of water while highly active to avoid bloat, which can be fatal. Use dog fountains to keep water fresh via circulation. Place raised water bowls in multiple convenient locations. For pets with mild dehydration, encourage drinking by mixing in low-salt, low-fat chicken or beef broth, or a small amount of plain Pedialyte. But if your dog is clearly dehydrated, talk to your vet immediately. Hydration is your dog’s best friend in the dog days of summer!

When to Worry About Bloat

One caveat about hydrating your pet is taking care not to give a deep-chested dog copious amounts of water during vigorous play, as we mentioned above. That’s because it’s believed to contribute to bloat, also known as gastric dilatation-volvulus (GDV) complex. Bloat is a medical and surgical emergency that occurs when a dog’s stomach rotates or twists, trapping blood from the hind legs and abdomen from returning to the heart. Blood pools at the back end of the body, reducing the working blood volume and sending the dog into shock.

Dogs with a deep, narrow chest — very tall, rather than wide — suffer the most often from bloat. Great Danes, who have a high height-to-width ratio, are five-to-eight times more likely to bloat than dogs with a low height-to-width ratio. In addition to Great Danes, large- or giant-breed dogs at greatest risk include St. Bernards, Weimaraners, Irish Setters and Gordon Setters, Standard Poodles, and Doberman Pinschers. Males are twice as likely to bloat as females.

Signs of Bloat:

  • An enlargement of the dog’s abdomen
  • Retching
  • Salivation
  • Restlessness
  • An affected dog will feel pain and might whine if you press on his belly

Without treatment, in only an hour or two, your dog will likely go into shock. The heart rate will rise and the pulse will get weaker, leading to death.

Too Much Hydration?

On the other end of the dehydration spectrum is Water Intoxication, which, while rare, can happen. Does your dog “bite” at the water when swimming? Maybe they can fetch a stick in a pool or lake all day — ingesting water each time they do. Or maybe they love to drink from pressurized water like a sprinkler spigot. But the ingestion of too much water can throw their electrolytes out of balance and cause a life-threatening condition.

Symptoms of water intoxication in dogs include lack of coordination, lethargy, nausea, bloating, vomiting, dilated pupils, glazed eyes, light gum color, and excessive salivation. Advanced symptoms include difficulty breathing, collapsing, loss of consciousness, and seizures.

Because water intoxication in dogs can progress so quickly, time is critical. If your dog exhibits these symptoms, get to a veterinarian immediately to run blood work. A low level of electrolytes will confirm the condition. Treatment for water intoxication includes fluids, to put electrolytes back in the system, and sometimes a diuretic.

 

 

 

 


 
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