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The Pet Effect: Dogs May Help Heart Health

January 31st, 2020 by Heaven At Home Staff

Image of dog with stuffed valentines heart in mouth to depict the heart-healthy effect of pets on humans

February is heart health month!

Make sure you give Fido a lovely Valentine this month; he or she may be giving your heart a healthy boost. A growing body of evidence suggests that having a dog may help with heart health by lowering blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and triglyceride levels and even reducing mortality after cardiac events.

One study published recently reviewed patient data from more than 3.8 million people in 10 separate studies. Compared to non-owners, dog owners had a 24% reduced risk of dying from any cause; a 31% reduced risk of dying from cardiovascular-related issues; and a 65% reduced risk dying after a heart attack, according to the reports published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes.

In the U.S., heart disease is the leading cause of death, responsible for one in four deaths, according to the CDC.

“Owning dogs has previously been linked to better mental health and feeling less lonely, which are both thought to decrease the risk of heart attacks,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. “While this new body of research doesn’t prove causality, it certainly furthers the connection.”

The Mayo Clinic is following a ground-breaking longitudinal study in the Czech Republic that began in 2013 with 1,769 adults, 24% of whom were dog owners. The participants are assessed every five years on the American Heart Association’s seven criteria for heart health: BMI, healthy diet, physical activity level, smoking status, blood pressure, blood glucose, and total cholesterol.

The results released this fall confirmed the association between pet ownership and cardiovascular health (CVH) as defined by the AHA. People who owned a pet, and specifically a dog, were more likely to report scores for physical activity, diet, and blood glucose components at higher levels. This translated into higher CVH score among owners of dogs or other pets than non-owners. In fact, dog owners exhibited better CVH even than owners of other pets. The subjects will be followed until 2030.

While researchers do not yet understand why dog ownership seems to improve blood glucose and lipid profiles, there’s historical proof that petting your dog reduces blood pressure.

So pet away, and give your heart to your fur-friend: they’ll help keep it healthy!

 


Keeping Your Senior Pet Warm This Winter

January 3rd, 2019 by Heaven At Home Staff

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.


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 »


Importance of Heartworm Preventative

April 20th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

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


Should my other pets be present

February 26th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

“Should my other pets be present during the euthanasia process?” is a common question we get.

The answer is definitely yes, if at all possible. Allowing other pets in the household to be present during euthanasia or giving them a chance to say goodbye after the pet has passed away often gives a sense of closure. This will also decrease the chance that the pet will be waiting at the door or look all over the house for their deceased friend to come back home. We want to lessen the chance of them becoming depressed, looking out the windows, or even going off their food during the grieving process.

We here at Heaven at Home encourage other pets to be present throughout the procedure if possible. Occasionally a young, hyper or anxious pet may be too distracting to be participatePics initially and in this case we encourage owners to have them in a different room. But often, even these personality types settle after becoming acquainted with the doctor and will have a “sense” of what is happening with their friend. Most times once we have begun, they lay down a small distance or even right next to their friend and accompany them as they cross over the rainbow bridge.

If for some reason it is impossible for other pets to be present during the procedure, they should at least have the chance to say good bye once the pet has passed. In most cases, the process does not take long, usually a brief sniff or glance before walking away. They often just seem to “know.” This does not mean that they won’t continue to grieve and may still look for their friend but it tends to help give a smoother transition. They will need extra love and support during the next few days as well.


Pet Connections: Loss & Love

March 4th, 2016 by Heaven At Home Staff

We know how difficult it is to lose a pet. Whether you recently lost a pet or are grieving a pet lost some time ago, here is an opportunity to share your story with others. Next Tuesday, March 8, right here in Grand Rapids. Share this flyer if you know someone who has lost a special pet.

Pet Connections


eightWest Segment Featuring Dr Brush

February 18th, 2016 by Laurie Brush

Dr Brush was on eightWest earlier this month to help spread awareness of the availability of Pet Hospice and in home euthanasia!  Click the link below to watch the clip where Dr Brush explains what it is that she does, and where her passion for end of life care came from.

 

Click Here to watch Dr Brush on eightWest!

 

barney


 
Compassionate home care for your companions!
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