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Fear-Free Care for Cats and Dogs

September 28th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Your pet’s life can be improved by understanding the elements of fear-free handling. Many pet parents are unfamiliar with the science that has led to the relatively new understanding of the permanent emotional damage, behavioral issues, and lack of quality of life that fear and stress may impart on our pets.

A growing body of evidence shows that animals have heightened memory of handling when fearful, which creates a cycle of increased anxiety, and sometimes aggression. Fear and anxiety cause autonomic arousal of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and accompanying release of stress hormones, leading to increased susceptibility to disease secondary to suppression of the immune system. Read the rest of this entry »


Signs of Pain in Cats & Dogs from the IVAPM

August 31st, 2020 by Laurie Brush

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. Read the rest of this entry »


Managing Pet Incontinence In Cats and Dogs

August 30th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

 

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. Read the rest of this entry »


Dehydration in the Dog Days of Summer

August 1st, 2020 by Laurie Brush

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. Read the rest of this entry »


Winning the Senior Pet Olympics

June 19th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Your loyal companion was there for you during lockdown, entertaining you, relieving your stress, photo-bombing your Zoom meetings… Repay that kindness and nourish your connection even if you’re back in the saddle at work.

“What’s important is that you set aside the time to create DAILY opportunities for engagement – not just “weekend warrior” sessions,” says Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

“Aging pets enjoy routine engagement and need dedicated, age-appropriate exercise and sunshine beyond a simple walk.” Read the rest of this entry »


Telemedicine for Aging Pets

May 13th, 2020 by Laurie Brush


In the era of COVID19 social distancing and stay at home orders, many pet parents have had the added stress of managing disease in their aging pets.

The crisis has ushered in a new era of veterinary consultation via telemedicine. This area of service has experienced exponential growth among routine care veterinarians as well as specialists. However, there are a few important things to consider when using veterinary telemedicine. Learn more in our blog post. Read the rest of this entry »


Assessing the Risks of Lyme Disease and Prevention in Dogs

April 17th, 2020 by Laurie Brush


Half the black-legged deer ticks you and your pet encounter on a Sunday stroll are carriers of a disease that can be deadly. The Borrelia burgdorferi bacterium is zoonotic, meaning it can infect both humans and man’s best friend with Lyme Disease.

For your fur friend, if left untreated, canine Lyme disease can damage the heart, nervous system, and kidneys. Chronically infected dogs may develop a life-threatening form of kidney inflammation and dysfunction. Long-term, Lyme can lead to arthritic-like joint stiffness and lameness. Read the rest of this entry »


COVID-19 Updates: Hospice Telemedicine Now Available, Home Euthanasia Still Available

April 1st, 2020 by Laurie Brush

UPDATE: Hospice and Quality of Life Assessments NOW AVAILABLE BY VIDEO

  • Our doctors are not currently visiting homes for hospice consultations, but we are now offering telemedicine visits with our doctors as an alternative. Call (616) 498-1316 to schedule your appointment. You may also, using your mobile phone, DOWNLOAD THE MEDICI APP  here (opens in a new window.)
  • Once you’ve registered on the APP, please enter THIS code to connect to Dr. Amy Hoss and the Heaven at Home Team: EWEKZRVSAS

 


UPDATE: Heaven at Home’s COVID-19 Protocols for Home Euthanasia Visits:

In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, we have made some changes to our protocols to protect our clients as well as our doctors and staff, so that we can continue to help pets pass peacefully and comfortably at home. We are following CDC, IAAHCP, and AVMA guidelines.

  • Our doctors will continue to help families say goodbye at home, either outdoors or in a garage or similar light traffic enclosure that can accommodate the 6-foot distance recommendation. We are attempting to avoid indoor exposure for the safety of our staff and your household.
  • Only immediate family, up to 2 people, can attend the appointment but no children under 10 years old may be present. All other family members or friends may attend via Skype, FaceTime, or other technology.
  • We ask all that will be present to please wash their hands just before the doctor arrives.
  • Our doctor will maintain a 6-foot distance from you and your family at all times, both for your protection and for hers. You will be asked to step away from your pet while she gives the initial sedative injection, then you may return as they drift off to sleep. You will be asked to step away again while she places an IV catheter and gives the second injection, then you may return as they pass peacefully.
  • When scheduling, please inform our staff if you or anyone in the home, is sick, experiencing symptoms, or have been exposed to the virus or other illness.
  • We are taking payment over the phone by credit card when you call to schedule. Please let us know if this is not an option for you.
  • Our doctors will go over the consent form with you when they arrive and ask for your verbal consent to proceed, as well as confirm your aftercare wishes for your pet.
  • We are only able to accept favorite blankets or toys to accompany the pet to cremation if your pet is contained in a body care bag, which is available for purchase. Please ask for more information when scheduling.
  • Our doctors will follow disinfectant protocols for themselves and their equipment, including disinfecting their supplies and stretchers, after each appointment. They will, as always, use fresh blankets for each pet.
  • Unfortunately, our doctors will be unable to offer hugs of comfort to our clients during their visit. Please know that this is actually one of the hardest adjustments for our doctors, as they desperately want to comfort you during this heart-wrenching time.

Heartbreak: Key Points on DCM & Pet Food

March 31st, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Are you confused by reports that grain-free and exotic dog food ingredients may be causing an increased number of dogs to die prematurely of “DCM” (dilated cardiomyopathy)? The stakes are high in the $30 billion petfood market where boutique producers are pitted against mounting evidence from the FDA. It’s hard for pet parents to cut through the spin to get the facts.

To make matters worse, nutritional DCM is one of those rare diseases where we have “the cure” before we conclusively know the precise cause, though high proportions of legumes in grain free foods are suspect. Read the rest of this entry »


Boarding a Senior Pet for Spring Break

March 9th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Pet parents are faced with tough choices when spring wanderlust strikes. Senior dogs and cats truly require more monitoring with advanced age.

“Many of the concerns of old age such as joint pain, incontinence or a change in behavior/temperament can make a boarding experience more trying,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

“Sometimes the stress of boarding can cause medical conditions to worsen. But good communication with the caregivers and advanced planning can help keep your pet comfortable,” she said.

In addition to providing documentation of medications, veterinary info, condition details, routines and feeding habits, you will also want to supply an advanced directive that spells out what kind of emergency procedures you authorize in your absence. Ensuring the provision of extra blankets, incontinence products, walking mats and heated bedding will help keep your pet comfortable. Read the rest of this entry »