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Senior Dog & Cat Tips

Select Food as Medicine for Canines – Part 2: Balancing Essential Nutrients

June 5th, 2024 by Ima Admin

In part one of this series, we examined research conducted by the Dog Aging Project that shows promise to extend the lifespan and quality of life of our beloved companion animals. Many pet parents are eager for definitive research on what to feed their pets to maintain optimum health.

Evidence is mounting that whole, plant-based diets offer extended “healthspans” thanks to polyamines such as spermidine, which has been shown to improve cellular function. Spermidine’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties protect against oxidative DNA damage.

While there has been controversy around the safety of feeding pets plant-based diets, some recent research has shown that dogs fed vegan diets were in ideal body condition, with normal behavior and good skin/coat condition, with no echocardiographic differences between vegan and the control group.

However, concerns have been raised around deficiencies in certain amino acids such as taurine, and vitamins such as B12 (cobalamin) and B9 (folate) when pet parents stray from veterinary-approved, pre-formulated diets. In addition, cases of DCM – dilated cardiomyopathy (enlarged hearts) – from boutique grain-free foods and the taurine connection has never been fully resolved. So how can a pet parent safely incorporate wellness nutrition into their pet’s meal plan? Read the rest of this entry »

Food as Medicine for Canines – Part 1: Slowing Down the Slowing Down

April 1st, 2024 by Ima Admin

What would we give for extra time with our beloved companion animals before they cross the Rainbow Bridge? What if there was a way from maturity onward to expand not only their lifespan, but their “healthspan” too? The concept of aging well, and longer, is a hot topic that’s enjoying a burst of research activity in the human realm. Much of that research applies to animals too. In fact, many of the early findings in longevity are coming from canine research through the Dog Aging Project.

Current longevity research is focused on slowing down what’s known as the mTor signaling pathway, the system that regulates metabolism and promotes growth when we’re young, but then ages us once we’re mature. Read the rest of this entry »

The Benefits of Librela for Arthritis in Dogs

January 2nd, 2024 by Ima Admin

Arthritis is a debilitating condition that affects senior dogs, causing pain and discomfort that can greatly diminish their quality of life. Fortunately, advancements in veterinary medicine have introduced promising treatments like Librela, a novel medication designed to alleviate arthritis symptoms in dogs.

“In the field of pet hospice and euthanasia, quality of life and the ability to manage pain are key factors that weigh into difficult decisions. Many senior dogs can enjoy an improved quality of life and an extension of their sunset years through treatment with this game-changing class of drugs,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

Librela is part of a new class of drugs known as disease-modifying osteoarthritis drugs (DMOADs) that target the underlying causes of arthritis, rather than merely masking symptoms. The active ingredient in Librela is known as “arti-antagonist,” which works by inhibiting the production of inflammatory molecules and promoting joint health.

Ways Librela Can Help

  1. Pain Reduction: One of the primary benefits of Librela is its ability to reduce pain associated with arthritis in dogs. A study published in the Journal of Veterinary Medicine found that dogs receiving Librela experienced a significant decrease in pain scores compared to a control group.
  2. Improved Joint Function: Arthritis often leads to decreased mobility and joint stiffness in dogs. Librela has been shown to improve joint movement and agility, allowing them to engage in more physical activities.
  3. Cartilage Protection: Librela helps protect and preserve cartilage in arthritic joints, which is crucial for long-term joint health and mobility.
  4. Reduced Inflammation: Inflammation is a key driver of arthritis pain. Librela works to decrease inflammation in the joints, thus reducing pain and swelling.
  5. Minimal Side Effects: Another significant benefit of Librela is its relatively low incidence of side effects compared to some traditional arthritis medications. Research has reported that adverse reactions to Librela are rare and generally mild.

Librela represents a promising advancement in the reduction of pain, improved joint function, preserved cartilage, and reduced inflammation. If your dog is suffering from arthritis, consult with your veterinarian to discuss the suitability of Librela as part of a comprehensive treatment plan. It may put a new spring in the step of your beloved companion, and extend your time together.

Medical Benefits of Red Light Therapy for Dogs

December 1st, 2023 by Ima Admin

As veterinary medicine continues to evolve, innovative treatments are emerging to enhance the comfort of senior companion animals. One such breakthrough is red light therapy, a non-invasive treatment that has shown promising medical benefits for dogs. Backed by research from reputable veterinarian journals, this therapy is shedding light on new ways to alleviate pain, accelerate healing, and improve overall canine health.

“The initial research is promising,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. Dr. Brush returned recently from the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care conference, an organization for which she serves as a member of the board of directors. At the conference, hospice veterinarians from across the country studied new ways to manage pain in aging pets.

“Red light therapy, also known as low-level laser therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation, has gained recognition for its efficacy in managing various forms of pain in dogs.”
Read the rest of this entry »

Navigating Vision and Hearing Loss in Senior Dogs

October 2nd, 2023 by Ima Admin

As our loyal canine companions age, they may encounter challenges such as vision and hearing loss. These conditions can be distressing, but with understanding, patience, and proper care, pet parents can provide their companions with a comfortable and fulfilling life.

“Vision or hearing loss in your dog is not a death sentence. We routinely see senior pets enjoying a high quality of life despite diminished vision or hearing. However, it’s vital to create a system of communication, engagement and comfort to keep your pet happy and safe,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, DVM and founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. Read the rest of this entry »

Feline Pain Awareness – Part 2 – Senior Cats

September 11th, 2023 by Ima Admin

September is Animal Pain Awareness Month, a campaign by the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) to help pet parents identify pain in their companion animals. For Heaven at Home Pet Hospice, every month is pain awareness month, because the compassionate management of pain can improve an animal’s quality of life and prevent premature euthanasia.

The practice of pain management in cats can be challenging due to their wily nature.

“Cats are particularly adept at masking injury and illness because they instinctively hide signs of weakness from potential predators. They’re hard-wired for survival,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. “Unfortunately, as a result, research has shown they are under-treated for painful conditions.”

The Heaven at Home team uses a pain assessment tool developed by a team of researchers at the University of Montreal’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital called the Feline Grimace Scale (FGS). This system of pain identification measures ear position, orbital tightening, muzzle tension, whisker position and head position. Pet parents can be taught to use the FGS at home.

Sources of pain in cats include arthritis, dental problems, urinary tract infections, bone disease, and cancer. There are a wide range of treatments to mitigate pain, including modifications to their environments, medications, monoclonal antibodies, and more.

IVAPM Pain Checklist for Cats

  • Reluctance or difficulty jumping up or down from counters, furniture, etc.
  • Difficulty or avoiding going up or down stairs
  • Restlessness or difficulty finding a comfortable position
  • Vocalizing (purring, or hissing) when touched or moving
  • Decreased appetite
  • Less playful with less desire to interact with people or animals
  • Excessive licking, biting or scratching a body part
  • Sleeping in an unusual position or unusual location
  • Unusual aggression when approached or touched (biting, hissing, ears pinned back)
  • Changes in eye expression (staring, enlarged pupils, vacant look, or squinting)
  • Stopped using or has difficulty getting in or out of litter box
  • Stopped or reduced grooming

If your senior kitty shows any of these signs of pain, it’s time for an evaluation by your routine care veterinarian or a pain management consultation. Your stoic kitty does not need to suffer in silence.

To learn the FPS system, download a guide in the Tools Section.

Animal Pain Awareness – Part I – Senior Dogs

August 1st, 2023 by Ima Admin

Next month, the International Veterinary Academy of Pain Management (IVAPM) will begin its annual awareness campaign to help pet parents identify pain in their companion animals. For Heaven at Home Pet Hospice, every month is pain awareness month, because pain management makes the difference between a comfortable quality of life in sunset years and the time to say goodbye.
Read the rest of this entry »

Treatment Breakthroughs for Senior Dogs & Cats with Osteoarthritis

June 5th, 2023 by Ima Admin

In the wake of COVID, you’ve likely heard about the benefits of monoclonal antibody therapy. In an effort to reduce pain, improve mobility and quality-of-life, this type of biological therapy has been harnessed to treat dogs and cats suffering from Osteoarthritis (OA).

Monoclonal antibodies, also known as “mAbs,” are proteins made in laboratories that act like the proteins called antibodies in our bodies – and in your pet’s body too. It mimics your pet’s own immune system to target and neutralize a protein called Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) that stimulates pain in pets with OA. Read the rest of this entry »

Developments in Canine Cancer Screening for Senior Dogs

May 1st, 2023 by Ima Admin

Cancer is the leading cause of death in dogs that are beyond middle age. Each year, more than 6.5 million dogs are diagnosed with cancer, and an average of 1 in 3 dogs will have cancer in their lifetime. Half of those will die directly from the disease, according to the National Canine Cancer Foundation.

Two recent breakthroughs in canine cancer screening may help mitigate the premature loss of our beloved companions and give pet parents easier options for more effective treatment. Read the rest of this entry »

Movement Is Medicine for Senior Pets – Part 3: Catercise!

April 3rd, 2023 by Ima Admin

“Catercise” might sound like a great Instagram hashtag, but for felines, the power of play is unparalleled for keeping senior kitties fit.

“Daily short sets of exercise can improve mobility, help manage pain, and keep your kitty’s cognitive function intact,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. In other words, an engaged kitty is a happy cat.

What if your cat is quite content to be sedentary…lazy even? After all, research shows that older cats sleep up to 20 hours per day! Experts recommend scheduling your catercise routines around peak active hours, typically sun-up and sundown. It also helps to use a quiet room sprayed with feline pheromones. Read the rest of this entry »