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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 »

Movement Is Medicine for Senior Pets – Part 2: Canine Cavaletti & Core Exercises

March 1st, 2023 by Ima Admin

These exercise tips for senior pets are a continuation of our Movement Is Medicine series to help pet parents engage their companion’s bodies and minds!

“Exercise offers more than physical benefit alone. Senior pets benefit from the emotional and mental engagement,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.
Read the rest of this entry »

Movement is Medicine for Senior Pets – Part 1: Getting Started

February 1st, 2023 by Ima Admin

Humans, canines and felines have more in common than you might think. We know that core strength and exercise offer mental and physical health benefits for senior humans. As the field of geriatric veterinary medicine evolves, we’re learning that the same applies to pets! Benefits in mental health, as well as cognition, result even from physical exercise alone, and specific exercises offer interventions to improve the quality of life for aging pets.

“Research shows that an exercise program that blends flexibility, range of motion, balance, strength and endurance will improve a pet’s quality of life,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

Dr. Brush serves on the board of the International Association for Animal Hospice & Palliative Care. The organization supports and shares information from veterinarians specializing in geriatric medicine. One presentation that hit home for her was by Dr. Brooke Loewenstein, DVM, CCRT, and CVAT, an innovator in therapeutic exercise.

To get started on home routines for senior pets, we’ll address these aspects in the next three installments of Pet Tips: Getting Started – Foundation Work, Cavaletti & Canine Core Exercises, and “Catercise” for feline aficionados.

Foundation Work – Canine

Basic Walking: Begin with 5 minutes of leash walking twice daily on flat, easy terrain, and build in 1-minute increments every other day until 15 minutes of walking is achieved twice daily.

Training for Paw Lifts: A fundamental skill you may need to train for is individual paw targeting (IPT) – meaning your dog lifts each of his four paws individually on cue. You can further advance this foot movement to mean to lift and “stick” the foot onto a target – such as your hand, a flat target, or an inflatable – for duration.

Perform 3 paw lifts of 5 seconds with each paw once daily. Increase the hold time by 2-3 seconds every week as tolerated, up to 15 seconds. Once this is achieved, slowly increase to 5 repetitions.

Once you help your pet build these skills, you may need to start training on backing up, side-stepping, and stretches, to eventually work up to a balanced routine like the following:

Sample Goal Routine:

  • Paw Lifts
  • Backing Up

  • Cavaletti exercise
  • Passive and active stretching
  • Unstable surface walking
  • Side stepping
  • Sit-to-stand transitions
  • Figure 8s
  • Indoor “circuits” for bad weather

In the next segment, we’ll discuss how to use or create Cavaletti gear, describe the “Cookie Stretch,” and more! Stay tuned.

10 Tips To Sustain Your Senior Pet’s Quality of Life This Winter

January 3rd, 2023 by Ima Admin

You’ve heard the expression “three-dog-night” — a night so bitterly cold you’d need three dogs in bed to keep you warm. The phrase begs the question: who keeps the warming dogs warm?

“Winter can be really tough on older dogs. They find it hard to regulate their body temperature, and the cold can exacerbate arthritic joints,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice. Here are some tips to keep your senior companion cozy. Read the rest of this entry »

New Ways to Give the Gift of Pain Relief: LDN Therapy

December 1st, 2022 by Ima Admin

Winter weather can be tough on senior pets suffering arthritis or other inflammatory conditions. Pain mitigation strategies include traditional medication, supplementation and environmental enhancements such as warming beds, cold-weather apparel, and paw-protection. One area of increasing interest to pet parents is LDN therapy for pain and inflammation management.

“While we can’t turn back time, there are many ways you can give your cat or dog the gift of a more comfortable winter, and LDN is a promising part of that strategy,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

Read the rest of this entry »

Gifts of Remembrance

November 1st, 2022 by Ima Admin

Pet Loss grief can be as difficult as traditional grief – if not more so – for two reasons: It’s not universally acknowledged, and at the same time, our loyal companions are an unparalleled source of unconditional love and acceptance.

“We opened our Aftercare Center to help our home euthanasia clients honor their bond and memorialize their companion animals. We realized through our work with the West Michigan Pet Loss Grief Support Group that healthy healing is promoted through memorialization,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice and Aftercare Center.

While the primary service available at the new Aftercare Center is water-based cremation (Aquamation) – an environmentally-friendly alternative to flame-based cremation – resources for grief support and memorialization are also available for pet families. Read the rest of this entry »

Dealing with Vision Loss in Senior Dogs

October 1st, 2022 by Ima Admin

Has your aging dog seemed less playful? Does he or she startle more easily than normal? Are your dog’s eyes cloudy? These are common signs of vision loss.

In some cases, early intervention can slow or repair eye conditions through medical treatment or surgery. In other cases, vision loss is an inevitable fact of aging. Read the rest of this entry »

Hemangiosarcoma – New Hope for The Word No One Wants Pronounced

September 1st, 2022 by Ima Admin

Swift, silent and deadly: Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) is an aggressive cancer of the blood vessels that pet parents don’t hear much about until it’s too late. In its deadliest form, it causes the spleen or heart to enlarge and ultimately rupture, causing sudden death by internal bleeding.

This devastating cancer is overrepresented among Golden Retrievers, Boxers, German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, and Portuguese Water Dogs, to name a few. It’s difficult to detect until it’s too late – pale gums and lethargy are signs of internal bleeding; an enlarged spleen that you can feel means the tumors are advanced. Read the rest of this entry »

The Ingredients For a “Good Death” in Pet Euthanasia

August 1st, 2022 by Ima Admin

No one wants to think about saying goodbye to a beloved animal companion. Yet thinking about it in advance can make the difference in whether or not a pet has a “good death” – passing peacefully, in the loving presence of his or her family, without fear, restraint, or unnecessary pain.

Dr. Kathleen Cooney, DVM, CHPV, CCFP has led the ‘good death revolution’ within the veterinary community throughout her 18-year-career. As founder of the Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy (CAETA), she has authored numerous publications on euthanasia-related topics, and is an internationally recognized expert in animal euthanasia. Read the rest of this entry »