News

How Can You Tell if Your Pet is in Pain?

August 30th, 2019 by Heaven At Home Staff

September is Animal Pain Awareness month.

Our companion animals often instinctively hide their pain. It’s a habit that has evolved as a survival mechanism to prevent predators from targeting them.

“Pain in dogs and cats can be difficult to measure,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Hospice, which provides palliative and euthanasia services throughout West Michigan.

“The clues can be subtle. Your dog may be reluctant to climb stairs or show decreased activity, or may simply stop initiating play,” she said. “In the case of cats, a reluctance to jump up onto surfaces is a sign of discomfort.”

The International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) was created to educate vets and pet parents alike in the expanding field of pain prevention, management and treatment.

According to IVAPM, the most common signs of pain in your pet are:

  • Decreased activity – Take notice if your pet is not playing as much as usual
  • Not going up or down stairs – This could be an early sign of osteoarthritis
  • Difficulty standing after lying down – is a sign of osteoarthritis
  • Over grooming or licking a particular area – can be a sign of referred pain
  • Decreased appetite – this can signal mouth pain
  • Reluctance to jump up onto surfaces – this especially applies to cats
  • Behavior changes – such as growling at fellow companion animals or withdrawal

Pain Management Options:

There are a variety of complementary treatment options depending on the source of pain, including physiotherapy, cold laser, acupuncture and nutritional supplements. In addition, there are many types of medication that can help manage your pet’s pain and improve their quality of life. Some examples are:

  • NSAIDs – There are special NSAIDs designed for dogs that interfere with the body’s production of inflammatory molecules and are often prescribed for mild to moderate pain.
  • Opioids – Just like humans, pets may be prescribed opioids to address severe pain from arthritis or advanced cancer.
  • Corticosteroids – Cortisone and synthetic cortisone-like drugs such as prednisone are potent anti-inflammatory medications that can deliver dramatic relief, though not without side effects.
  • Gabapentin – Is a popular choice for managing chronic neuropathic pain.

Don’t let your pet needlessly suffer. Be observant for signs of pain and talk to your vet.


One Year Later: Michigan Dog Flu Epidemic

August 23rd, 2019 by Heaven At Home Staff

By this time last summer, Michigan was amidst a rapid spread of Canine Influenza, three years after an outbreak of new strain H3N2 in Chicago. In Grand Rapids, some doggie daycares closed and mounted mass vaccination efforts while pet parents sidelined social opportunities for 10-30 days to confine the spread. Meanwhile, confirmed cases of CIV spread across the US, with approximately 20% of affected pets contracting the severe, life-threatening form.

What can we expect this year?

“It will depend on how many pet parents vaccinated their pets. This is a new strain of avian origin so pets who’ve not previously been exposed are at risk. There’s no natural immunity to Dog Flu,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven At Home Pet Hospice.

In her line of palliative work, “Dog Flu” is a serious — and possibly deadly –complication for senior pets who have other health ailments and compromised immune systems. In these companion animals, fevers can range from 104ºF to 106ºF and may show clinical signs of pneumonia, such as increased respiratory rates and effort.

“Vaccination should be considered for dogs with heart or respiratory conditions, dogs that travel or show, and those that have extensive contact with other dogs,” she said.

Signs of Dog Flu to Watch for:

“Dog Flu” symptoms are very similar to Bordetella and other viruses. Testing is tricky because there is a 3-day window for active testing before antibodies are produced. Watch your pet for these signs:

  • High Fever (103ºF)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Cough, which may be dry or may bring up sputum
  • Runny nose with clear secretions at first, but may later change to thick yellow or pink-tinged color

How does it Spread?

Dogs who are boarded, go to daycare or visit grooming facilities where there is close contact with other dogs are at highest risk. The virus spreads through direct contact, through the air from a cough or sneeze, and from contaminated objects like water bowls or human hands. How to Prevent Dog Flu Vaccines are now available for both strains of CIV, and are given in a series of 2 shots 2-4 weeks apart. The vaccine may not all together prevent an infection, but will reduce the severity and duration of clinical illness.


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.

BalanceIt: A Unique Approach to Nutrition for Companion Animals

February 13th, 2019 by Heaven At Home Staff

BalanceIt, a vet-guided nutrition companion for pets including senior dogs and cats in West Michigan

Many pet parents struggle to know the best food, and method to feed their companion animals. Commercial pet food recalls can be scary, as can news about the FDA investigating boutique & grain-free dog food as a potential cause of hidden heart disease.

Veterinarians typically recommend commercial or prescription foods that meet these guidelines developed by the World Small Animal Veterinary Association:

  1. Food is formulated by full-time, board-certified Ph.D. veterinarian nutritionists.
  2. Food is manufactured by a company that conducts extensive live feeding trials.
  3. Company’s R&D team publishes peer-reviewed research.

Yet well-meaning pet food stores often direct pet parents toward heavily marketed boutique brands that do not meet these guidelines. Read the rest of this entry »


Dr. Laurie Brush & Ginny Mikita Speaking at WMVMA Nov. 27th

November 20th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice, and Ginny Makita are delighted to be speaking at the West Michigan Veterinarian Medical Association dinner on Tues., Nov. 27 at John Ball Zoo to help local vets improve the euthanasia experience for clients and support bereaved pet parents.

In “The Client’s Perspective on Euthanasia and How You Can Improve the In-Hospital Euthanasia Experience,” Dr. Brush will share information and stories of her experience helping pet parents give their fur-babies peaceful passings.

Ginny Makita, Facilitator of the West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group, will share tips for helping people who are Grieving Pet Loss During the Holidays. Together, they hope to raise awareness of options available for compassionate end-of-life care for animals and the benefits of grief support for bereaved pet parents.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to familiarize many of my veterinarian peers with the ongoing research and work of the International Association for Animal Palliative Care. In vet school, there is so much material we cover, but we’re often not able to focus on end-of-life and hospice care. Yet a large percentage of pets today are entering their senior years, and need assistance,” Dr. Brush said.

Dr. Brush became one of the first 100 veterinarians in the world to receive her Animal Hospice and Palliative Care Certification from the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). She earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. As a practicing vet since 1998, she became involved in the movement toward in-home palliative care and euthanasia, beginning with her own 17-year-old rescue dog, Herkemer. Through her personal experience, she became a passionate advocate for peaceful at-home transitions. 

She started Heaven at Home Pet Hospice almost 7 years ago. Heaven at Home has grown into a team of 3 doctors and 3 Care Coordinators to better serve the West Michigan area. She is a member of the IAAHPC, the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA), the MVMA, the WMVMA and the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management (IVAPM).

Ginny Mikita, JD, hosts the West Michigan Loss Grief Support Group at Heaven at Home the first Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 8 p.m. The group is designed to provide a safe, confidential and structured space where those bound by the experience of the impending loss or death of a companion animal can come together on a regular basis to share stories, receive validation of concerns and feelings, learn about grief and the mourning process and reflect upon the meaning of it all.

Ginny is a ’91 graduate of Notre Dame Law School and Master of Divinity/Center for Loss, Death and Grief Studies Certification candidate. She and her husband, Bob Kruse, have their own compassion-social justice-based law practice, in which they represent the voiceless, neglected, abused and unaccompanied refugee children, animals and those who care for and provide them with medical and shelter services and incapacitated adults.  Ginny has also served in human hospital settings.

Ginny regularly officiates Blessings of the Animals in both religious and secular environments. For example, her most recent Blessing occurred October 6th (the 10th annual) in conjunction with ArtPrize at the Saint Francis Sculpture Garden & Path at the Dominican Center. Her next Blessing will occur at LaughFest’s People and Pets Event at Ford Field House in March 2019.

The dinner and presentation will be held in the Zoo Ballroom at 1300 Fulton St, just south of the main entrance to the zoo.

Veterinarians interested in attending the WMVMA can RSVP by Nov. 26 to sarah.faasse@wmvma.org.


Heaven at Home Honors National Animal Hospice Day November 3rd

November 2nd, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

HAHHospiceDay2018Heaven at Home joins hospice veterinarians across the nation Saturday in honoring National Hospice day. In America, 68% of households have companion animals, with 89.7 Million dogs, and 94.2 Million cats. It is estimated that between 44-48% of these pets are currently over the age of 7, meaning they are entering their senior years. Depending on species and breed, many will be preparing to cross the rainbow bridge. The quality of their end of life has become a focal point for geriatric specialists within the veterinarian community and the population at large.

“For too long, pet parents have not had the resources available to provide the highest quality of end-of-life and palliative care to their fur babies in their sunset years,” says Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home and Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Vet.

“The national animal hospice movement seeks to change that through its awareness campaign and the provision of resources as this type of service becomes more readily available to people.”

As part of National Animal Hospice Day, Heaven at Home is accepting donations to its benevolent fund to help those families in economic hardship provide in-home euthanasia services for their companion animals. Please consider making a donation if you’d like to help others have a peaceful pet passing in their own home.

History of National Animal Hospice Day

National Animal Hospice Day was created by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care in order to give pet caregivers an opportunity to learn more about hospice and palliative care for four-legged family members in order to better understand the options and resources available. In recent years, the field of animal hospice has grown, as an increasing number of people actively seek to provide a peaceful end-of-life experience for their companions.

However, too often, pet parents are still forced to make difficult decisions about their pets’ final days without adequate information or preparation. The animal hospice and palliative care process is unique in that it provides support for both pets and their caretakers.

Families work with a hospice team that helps to ensure that all options are explored for the comfort and care of pets who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, debilitating condition or are nearing the end of their lives. The hospice team helps to guide decision making about pain management, mobility, and nutritional needs and offers counseling to family members as they process their grief and spiritually prepare for the loss of their beloved companion.

For more information about our animal hospice services, please contact us.

For additional information about animal hospice and palliative care services, visit the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care’s website – their FAQ page is a great place to start: https://www.iaahpc.org

Highlights of Animal Home Hospice Questions:

Excerpted from IAAHPC

What is animal hospice? What is palliative care?

Both are approaches to care for your animal friend that can be adopted when the goal shifts from cure to comfort. Both involve an interdisciplinary team of providers who offer comprehensive care on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels and include veterinarians, animal and family services providers.  The term “animal hospice” is not a place; it is a philosophy of care which became popularized in the 1970’s.  Since the 1990’s the hospice model has been applied to also caring for our pets and thus hospice and palliative care for animals is growing across the US and the world.

Why animal hospice and palliative care for my beloved pet?

In the human hospice experience, families are well-supported and empowered to provide loving care to their loved one. As a result, they find enhanced coping along the journey and healing from their loss. Many pet parents want the same care for their furry, feathered and scaled family members as they’ve seen benefit their human loved ones, and so they turn to animal hospice. Pet parents also seek satisfaction in knowing they did all they could to support their animal companion, enhancing their bond with them during this time, and create cherishing memories.

What kind of diseases or conditions would warrant hospice and/or palliative care?

The  diseases and conditions  that most frequently warrant hospice or palliative care for animals are:

●      cancer

●      organ failure [kidneys, liver and heart are common examples]

●      osteoarthritis

●      cognitive dysfunction, or dementia

●      senior pets approaching the end of life

●      failure to thrive 

●      any life-limiting condition that is contributing to an excessive burden of caregiving for a family, or treatments/interventions that are unacceptable to the pet

As a pet parent, what are my responsibilities in providing hospice for my animal friend?

Preparing to care for your aging, ill or dying pet is similar to caring for a child or aged adult. You would take time to learn about your loved one’s condition and ways to ensure the highest degree of comfort possible. You would learn how to monitor your loved one’s quality of life and then regularly communicate with the hospice team. You would make decisions with the guidance of the care team, and then take measures to act on your decisions once the appropriate time came.  Along the journey, the well-being and feelings of the human family members would be validated and supported.

How do I know if hospice care is the right decision for me and my pet?

Many pet parents choose hospice care in order to have the time to say goodbye to their companions, to plan for their death, and to ensure that all the decisions about the pet’s needs are guided by their personal view of the pet’s needs. If you have the resources to support comfort care, the time and desire to care for your pet during the last days, weeks, sometimes months of their life, and a good support team in place, then hospice care may be the right choice for you and your pet.

Why do I feel so sad already, when my animal friend was just recently diagnosed?  Few people seem to understand what I’m going through.

We know that grief associated with loss begins before the actual death occurs, and the name for this is “anticipatory grief”. These emotions may sneak up on us and affect us in many aspects of our life. Grief is work! It is never easy, but it can be easier with the support of a team that values “care for the caregiver”, a cornerstone of hospice philosophy. Yes, the ability to think clearly will directly affect how effective you can be in your care for your animal companion. Respite, or some time away from caregiving, can be important to your continued well-being.


Dr. Laurie Brush Among First to Achieve Hospice Certification

October 30th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

DrLaurie_certDr. Laurie Brush received more than a dose of warm sunshine in Arizona during her visit to the annual conference for the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) earlier this month. She became one of the first graduates to receive a new advanced Certification as a Hospice & Palliative Care Veterinarian. 

The IAAHPC founded the continuing education program in 2016 to advance the study in hospice and palliative care for licensed veterinarians and credentialed veterinary technicians. The 100-hour AHPC Certification Program standardizes and defines the skills and knowledge required of animal hospice and palliative care providers, and establishes a standard of care that reflects excellence.

“Heaven at Home was founded in 2012 when the notion of home hospice and at-home euthanasia for pets was almost unheard of in Grand Rapids and most of Michigan,” Dr. Brush said. “IAAHPC has been an extremely valuable resource for myself and my staff to ensure we’re offering the highest level of care for companion animals at the end of their lives. I’m delighted to have been among the first 100 graduates of this new Certification Program, because it stands for compassionate end-of-life care across the country. Every pet deserves a peaceful passing with their beloved family members.”

The certification typically takes 16 months to complete, with segments on pain management, animal comfort, euthanasia techniques and ways to help families find peace and manage grief. The certification requires documentation of Case Studies, as well as on-site practical study and examination.

“It is demanding when you’re busy as we are, but we’re committed to keeping up with the latest research and techniques in our field to give the very best care to our clients fur-babies,” Dr. Brush said.

In 2013, the IAAHPC developed comprehensive guidelines for the practice of animal hospice and palliative care, which are now widely recognized among the veterinary community (see AAHA/IAAHPC End-Of-Life Care Guidelines, 2016). Since its inception in 2009, IAAHPC has helped popularize and promote the value of skilled end-of-life care for companion animals.

“There is a gap—treacherous yet barely recognized—between how we care for companion animals during their lifetime, and how we care for them during the end phase of their lives,” said Dr. Amir Shanan, IAAHPC founder and honorary advisor. “This gap has a tremendous cost in human suffering and grief, which is also barely recognized. Our program is aimed at giving veterinary professionals the tools for closing this gap.”

 

 


Drs. Laurie and Amy Attending the IAAHPC in Arizona

October 4th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Dr. Laurie Brush and Dr. Amy Hoss attend the IAAHPC conference in Tempe Arizona

Dr. Laurie Brush and Dr. Amy Hoss are headed for Arizona to attend the 8th annual IAAHPC conference in Tempe Arizona on Oct. 5th. The International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care promotes comfort care that addresses the physical, psychological, and social needs of animals with chronic and/or life-limiting disease. The organization educates professionals and advances research in the field of animal hospice and palliative care. Read the rest of this entry »


Heaven at Home Featured on eightWest

October 3rd, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Special thanks to the team at eightWest for featuring the services of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice! If you missed the show, click on the photo below to watch the video on the eightWest website! Hami, a gorgeous 12-year-old collie with arthritis, stole the show. In this segment, Dr. Laurie Brush discusses ways to help arthritic animals be more comfortable in their sunset years with things like mats, helper-harnesses, and more. If you have a pet who can’t get around like they used to, Contact Us to request an appointment.

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The Conundrum of Feeding Your Senior Pet

September 18th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

SrPetillus_580x300Many pet parents are confounded by conflicting advice on pet food in general, whether it’s commercial, grain-free, biologically appropriate and/or raw. This confusion can be compounded as your pet ages and is faced with medical conditions that require special consideration when it comes to diet. Many diseases that are common in older dogs and cats may be nutrient-sensitive, meaning that diet can play an important role in the management of the condition. As a general rule, dogs and cats 7 years of age or older are at risk of age-related diseases, though specific breed size, genetics, and physical condition influence the aging process.

Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice, says senior pet nutrition can be a complicated issue but that conscientious pet parents can help their senior pets enormously by dialing in their pet’s diet to prevent obesity.

“It’s important to work with your routine care veterinarian and adjust your feeding approach as your pet ages,” she said.

“Obesity aggravates many conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, and accelerates the aging process.  At the same time, if your pet is underfed or receives inadequate protein, waning muscle mass may reduce the effectiveness of your pet’s immune system. It can be a tricky balance,” she said.

In the course of the home visits that Dr. Brush and her staff make to provide palliative care for senior and terminally ill pets, she sees the product of both ends of the spectrum: overweight pets who suffer ailments and mobility issues exacerbated by overfeeding, and pets who’ve lost interest in the foods they once loved.

“Every senior pet can benefit from extra attention to nutrition,” she says. “It can make a real difference in the quality of life a senior pet enjoys.”

Understanding Energy Needs in Senior Pets

Just like humans, companion animals have individual and specific Resting and Maintenance Energy Requirements (RERs and MERs) that vary based on genetic potential, health status, and whether the animal is intact or neutered. RERs refers to the metabolic resting state; MERs refers to maintenance and is dependent on activity level. Research suggests that MERs decrease with age in dogs just as it does in humans. In one study of English Setters, Miniature Schnauzers and German Shepherds, the MERs of 11-year-old dogs were approximately 25% less than 3-year-old dogs.

Among the veterinarian community, it’s generally accepted that senior dogs require approximately 20% fewer calories than their younger peers due to this reduction in energy requirement coupled with lessened activity. To reduce weight in an overweight dog or cat, vets use a formula to calculate 80% of the calories required for RER.

On the other hand, some senior pets can suffer malnutrition and weight loss that aggravates their conditions. Veterinarians may prescribe appetite stimulants to improve nutritional intake. In this case, it is also helpful for pet parents to familiarize themselves with energy requirements to help ensure their senior pet is receiving adequate nutrition.

(See: How to Count Calories for Your Senior Pet)

The case of cats is more complex when it comes to senior energy needs. Short-term research suggested that aging cats did not experience the same kind of reduction in energy requirement, but long-term studies indicated a reduction of approximately 3% per year through age 11. From ages 12-15, however, the energy requirement per pound of weight actually increased in cats.

 

The Importance of Caloric Makeup –

Research on Protein

One belief that has long circulated in the pet food world is that senior dogs and cats need a low-protein diet to protect against kidney disease. The belief originated from  rodent research performed in the 1940s that has since been disproved. Instead, numerous research studies have confirmed that protein does not adversely affect the kidneys in either healthy older dogs or cats.

In fact, research by veterinarian nutritionist Dr. Delmar Finco, among others, suggests that the need for dietary protein may actually increase in senior pets by as much as 50%.  His research also showed that higher protein diets were associated with greater life spans.

One study comparing protein requirement in 2-year-old Beagles versus 13-year-old Beagles found that the senior dogs needed at least 50% more dietary protein.

Research also suggests that L-carnitine, a vitamin-like compound made from amino acids found in red meats, fish, chicken and dairy products, may help the body use fat for energy.

“High-quality protein with good amino acids should make up a healthy portion of a senior pet’s daily caloric intake, at least 25%. A pet parent’s veterinarian is the best resource for help ensuring this is the case,” Dr. Brush said.

Watch Fat Intake, Take Care with Carbohydrates

“Fewer of the pet’s calories should be from fat because fat leads to inflammation, which can be problematic for arthritic pets.” Dr. Brush said.

Carbohydrate percentage in pet food has been in the spotlight in recent years, with many consumers trending toward grain-free options. While Dr. Brush has heard anecdotal evidence from clients who’ve elected grain-free options, she cautions pet parents to fully discuss the implications with their veterinarians. Recently, the FDA launched an investigation into unusual cases of DCM – dilated cardiomyopathy – in pets who were fed boutique, grain-free foods high in legumes like lentils and peas. The current (and early) theory is that the legumes may interfere with the production of  the vital amino acid, L-taurine. Some manufacturers have responded by supplementing taurine, which is essential to pet metabolic health, but there are still many unknowns.

“In general, it’s best to ensure that the high-quality protein is coming from meat, not protein-dense carbohydrates,” she said.

Other Nutrient Considerations:

Apart from avoiding high-fat foods and ensuring at least 25% of calories are coming from good protein sources, there are a number of supplements that are reasonably time-tested to improve health in aging companion animals, such as Fish Oil and Glucosamine. However, all supplements are not created equal, and are not tested by the FDA. Pet parents should discuss supplements and brands with their veterinarian, and consider using supplements formulated for veterinary use.

• Fish Oil – 1,000 mg twice daily for dogs < 50 lbs, 2,000 mg daily for dogs > 50 lbs.

• Glucosamine – Many veterinarians recommend approximately 500 mg of Glucosamine and 400 mg of Chondroitin per 25 pounds. For oral Glucosamine for dogs, a typical dose may be: Dogs 5-20 pounds: 250-500 mg. Dogs 20-45 pounds: 500 mg.

• Prescription Cat & Dog Food – Most veterinary clinics supply special formulations for pets with specific health conditions. For example, pets with renal (kidney) disease should avoid foods high in phosphorus and calcium, which can exacerbate their illness.If your pet does not find one particular brand of prescription pet food palatable, there are multiple others that can be tried. Work with your veterinarian to find a food that they like and that will make them feel better.

 

Senior Feeding Problems

Depending on the age-related disease or condition of your pet, you may find that Fido has lost interest in food, has trouble chewing, or difficulty with digestion. Here are some things pet parents can do to make feeding more palatable to their senior pets.

  • Warm food slightly – it releases the aroma and heightens interest
  • Supplement with soft foods for pets that have difficulty chewing
  • Dental disease can sometimes be ameliorated with antibiotics if your pet is not healthy enough to undergo anesthesia for a dental procedure
  • Elevate the food and water dishes to make it easier for your pet to access them
  • Hand-feeding may work with some dogs
  • Adding low-sodium broth to food can make it more palatable

Feeding your senior pet an ideal diet for his or her age and condition can be complex, but help is available. Heaven at Home Pet Hospice can work with your routine care veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to help you manage your senior pet’s nutrition and give your fur baby the highest quality of life possible for his or her final chapter.

 


 
Compassionate home care for your companions!
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