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Senior Dog & Cat Tips

Pets in Pain – AAHA

September 20th, 2019 by Laurie Brush

As part of pet pain awareness month, we published an article earlier this month about identifying and managing pain in members of your fur family. In this second installment, we’ll share a handy infographic to help identify pain in cats and dogs and include the American Animal Hospital Association’s article summarizing its guidelines in layman’s terms.

Pain Management Approach for Senior Companion Animals:

The Heaven at Home team takes a “multimodal” approach to helping manage pain in palliative pets. We are firm supporters of the AAHA/AAFP Pain Management Guidelines for Dogs and Cats, and subscribe to the “Continuum of Care” philosophy inherent in it. This means that pet parents and routine care veterinarians are part of the pain management planning process and that pain management should include anticipation, early intervention and evaluation.

During home visits, one of the team’s veterinarians will evaluate your pet’s condition and assess things that can be changed in the home environment to help your pet stay a part of the family. They will review records from your routine care veterinarian if available, and give you pain assessment guidelines so that you can also monitor and rate your pet’s pain behaviors. Together, we then develop a pain management plan for your pet. The plan may include a number of elements depending on the underlying cause of pain, which could be from arthritis, cancer, or any number of life-limiting illnesses. Read the rest of this entry »


A Guide to Tick Risks in Michigan & What to do About Them

July 18th, 2019 by Laurie Brush

Summertime Lyme on the Rise

Whether you’re heading to the Lake for a summer vacation or staying closer to home to enjoy the great outdoors, be on the lookout for the increasingly pervasive Black Legged (Deer) tick, purveyor of Lyme disease.

Frequent pet checks will help keep your pet – and your family – safe from Lyme disease, which has increased five-fold in the past decade throughout Michigan and is reaching what the CDC is calling epidemic proportions across America. The CDC estimates 300,000 cases last year, making Lyme the fastest growing vector-borne illness. Read the rest of this entry »


Identifying and Coping with Canine Cognitive Dysfunction

April 1st, 2019 by Laurie Brush

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. Read the rest of this entry »


BalanceIt: A Unique Approach to Nutrition for Companion Animals

February 13th, 2019 by Laurie Brush

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 »


Keeping Your Senior Pet Warm This Winter

January 3rd, 2019 by Laurie Brush

Few topics inspire as much controversy as (faux?) fashion for our furry friends. Do they really need coats and booties, or is this a classic case of anthropomorphism? Inquiring minds want to know!

In actual fact, the suitability of pet outerwear depends on a number of variables, including your dog’s breed, coat, age and body condition, plus outdoor temperature and duration of exposure.

“Pets with diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, or hormonal imbalances (such as Cushing’s disease) may have a harder time regulating their body temperature, and may be more susceptible to problems from temperature extremes,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

Outerwear:

  • As a general rule, if your dog will only be outside for 10 minutes or less, they typically do not need any clothing.
  • Once temperatures drop under 20° F, all owners need to be aware that their dogs could potentially develop cold-associated health problems like hypothermia and frostbite. Watch for signs, including shivering, anxiety, and slowing down. Beware of the wind chill factor.
  • Double-coated dogs such as Siberian Huskies and Newfoundlanders are very unlikely to need clothing.
  • Shorter-haired breeds, senior dogs, puppies and dogs with medical conditions do benefit from the additional warmth.

Paw Protection:

One of the biggest threats to healthy paw pads is the salt used to melt ice on driveways, roads and sidewalks. Prolonged contact with deicers can lead to chemical burns on dog paws. Use pet-friendly salt, and cover your dog’s paws when out on walks with paw wax or booties.

  • Booties offer the best protection: Options include rubber-sole styles with double Velcro straps, waterproof nylon socks, and disposable rubbers.
  • For elderly dogs who are more prone to slipping and falling on ice, you may wish to try booties with a grip.

 

Bed Warmers for Arthritic Dogs and Cats

If your feline friend or canine companion is elderly and/or suffers from arthritis you may wish to offer a heated orthopedic bed. Styles range from simple heating pads to luxurious heated lounges. Use caution with external heat sources, ensuring your pet is able to get up and move off the heat source if he/she becomes too warm. You may wish to discuss the type of heat source you should use with your veterinarian.


Tips to Avoid Stressing Your Elderly Dog or Cat During the Holidays

December 19th, 2018 by Laurie Brush


You might think holiday stress is confined to last-minute-shopping humans, over-burdened hosts or folks with in-laws they secretly refer to as “outlaws.” If the holidays are stressful for you, imagine how your aging pet feels. Your own stress plus the bustle of the holiday season compounds pet stress, and it takes elderly animals longer to bounce back. Follow these tips to help your pets have a stress-free, happy holiday.

Read the rest of this entry »


The Conundrum of Feeding Your Senior Pet

September 18th, 2018 by Laurie Brush

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. Read the rest of this entry »


Tips & Tools to Count Calories for Your Senior Pet

September 18th, 2018 by Laurie Brush

TipsnTools_580x300A pet parent who wants to optimize their aging pet’s health by preventing weight-gain but maintaining a healthy weight has two avenues to success – controlling the inputs and measuring the output. In other words, “Read, Feed and Weigh.”

In this guide, we’ll help you gather some tools to figure out how much food your fur-baby needs to stay fit, from calories calculators and activity trackers to the Body Conditioning chart that helps you assess your pet’s score. Read the rest of this entry »


Senior Feline Health Issues

July 25th, 2018 by Laurie Brush

Pimento

As our kittys age, physical and mental changes occur just as they do with people. Their metabolism may change, they sleep more deeply and may not be able to jump as high as they once did when they were younger. This being said, cats should be seen more often than once a year (recommendation is every 6 months) as they begin to age, usually around the age of 7 years of age.
It is always easier to treat a disease if caught early on and cats often do a great job at hiding some of these changes. They may often be subtle changes that we chalk up to slowing down due to age but these changes could also be due to a medical issue. Read the rest of this entry »


Importance of Heartworm Preventative

April 20th, 2018 by Laurie Brush

Heartworm Disease is a potentially life threatening condition caused by parasitic worms that can live in the heart and lungs of dogs and cats. It is important to prevent heartworm disease versus waiting for your pet to contract it as it can be difficult and costly to treat. The treatment requires a series of treatments over several months.
Heartworm

How do pets get heartworm disease?
Mosquitoes. When a mosquito bites an infected pet, it sucks blood containing microfilariae. (Microfilariae are the offspring of the adult heartworm). Once matured inside the mosquito, the offspring develop into infective larvae. This infective larvae are passed on when the mosquito bites another pet.

How to protect your pet?
Giving your pet a monthly preventative is key. Most heartworm preventatives also protect your pet from other intestinal parasites and fleas. Due to unpredictable seasons it is recommended to keep your pet on heartworm preventative year round.

A blood test is recommended to confirm that your pet is free of heartworm disease before prescribing heartworm preventative as many heartworm preventatives can cause illness if given with larvae in the bloodstream. Contact your pets veterinarian for their recommendations.

*For more specific information regarding heartworm disease and recommendations, go to https://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources