Books for Children on Grieving Pet Loss

December 7th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

The Heaven at Home team knows that grieving the passing of your fur-baby is difficult and requires all the support you can get. On top of dealing with your own loss, if you have children, you also have to help them navigate what might be their first experience of losing a loved one. Books can play a helpful role in helping your child through the process.

The following are a few of the “gold standard” books written for children that are designed to help grieve a pet who has passed.

You’re Still With Me
By Lisa M. Algee, E.F. Tongson, 2018

For anyone who has experienced the depths of sorrow after losing a beloved pet, this true story helps heal the broken heart. Written and illustrated from a child’s perspective, it touches all age levels. The author chronicles the joy she shared with her dog; the feelings of loss and despair during the grieving process; and finally inner peace and acceptance after realizing the end is never really the end. It’s just another place where those who have passed take on a different form.

Find it on Amazon


 

Snowflake in My Hand
By Samantha Mooney, Delacorte, 1983

In a book that reflects her years of work at New York City’s famous Animal Medical Center, Samantha Mooney creates a miracle of her own—the unforgettable story of dedicated professionals who, faced with sometimes incurable illness among the animals they care for, nevertheless find companionships and laughter in that caring. But above all, this is a story of cats: Clancy, a tiger-suited Irish rogue who refuses to be caged; gentle Oliver Cromwell, who summers in Maine and makes friends with his own personal sea gull; and one tiny black cat, Fledermaus, who breaks through Samantha’s own wall of frozen grief after her father’s death and shows her the rewards, and the risks, of loving again.

Find it on Amazon


The Tenth Good Thing About Barney
By Judith Viorst, Atheneum, 1975

“My cat Barney died this Friday. I was very sad. My mother said we could have a funeral for him, and I should think of ten good things about Barney so I could tell them… “
But the small boy who loved Barney can only think of nine. Later, while talking with his father, he discovers the tenth — and begins to understand.

Find it on Amazon


When a Pet Dies
By Fred Rogers, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1988

In this useful book from the First Experience series, the affable star of Mister Rogers Neighborhood helps children share feelings of the loss of a pet while offering reassurance that grieving is a natural, healing thing to do. “A sensitive and sensible first book about death,” according to The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books. “Filled with warmth and reassurance,…When a Pet Dies assures youngsters that no matter how badly they feel when they lose a pet, in time their hurt will ease, and they will be able to remember with fondness the happiness they shared,”said a Booklist review.
Fred Rogers and Jim Judkis live in Pittsburgh, PA.

Find it on Amazon


West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group:

Do you need help navigating your own grief? Ginny Mikita hosts the West Michigan Pet Loss Support group here at Heaven at Home the second Tuesday of each month, 6:30 – 8 p.m. If you or someone you love would benefit from a grief support group, please feel free to join us by contacting Ginny Mikita at 616.460.0373 by noon on the day of the Group. Learn more here.


Dr. Laurie Brush & Ginny Mikita Speaking at WMVMA Nov. 27th

November 20th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice, and Ginny Makita are delighted to be speaking at the West Michigan Veterinarian Medical Association dinner on Tues., Nov. 27 at John Ball Zoo to help local vets improve the euthanasia experience for clients and support bereaved pet parents.

In “The Client’s Perspective on Euthanasia and How You Can Improve the In-Hospital Euthanasia Experience,” Dr. Brush will share information and stories of her experience helping pet parents give their fur-babies peaceful passings.

Ginny Makita, Facilitator of the West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group, will share tips for helping people who are Grieving Pet Loss During the Holidays. Together, they hope to raise awareness of options available for compassionate end-of-life care for animals and the benefits of grief support for bereaved pet parents.

“This is a wonderful opportunity to familiarize many of my veterinarian peers with the ongoing research and work of the International Association for Animal Palliative Care. In vet school, there is so much material we cover, but we’re often not able to focus on end-of-life and hospice care. Yet a large percentage of pets today are entering their senior years, and need assistance,” Dr. Brush said.

Dr. Brush became one of the first 100 veterinarians in the world to receive her Animal Hospice and Palliative Care Certification from the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC). She earned her Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University. As a practicing vet since 1998, she became involved in the movement toward in-home palliative care and euthanasia, beginning with her own 17-year-old rescue dog, Herkemer. Through her personal experience, she became a passionate advocate for peaceful at-home transitions. 

She started Heaven at Home Pet Hospice almost 7 years ago. Heaven at Home has grown into a team of 3 doctors and 3 Care Coordinators to better serve the West Michigan area. She is a member of the IAAHPC, the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA), the MVMA, the WMVMA and the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management (IVAPM).

Ginny Mikita, JD, hosts the West Michigan Loss Grief Support Group at Heaven at Home the first Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 8 p.m. The group is designed to provide a safe, confidential and structured space where those bound by the experience of the impending loss or death of a companion animal can come together on a regular basis to share stories, receive validation of concerns and feelings, learn about grief and the mourning process and reflect upon the meaning of it all.

Ginny is a ’91 graduate of Notre Dame Law School and Master of Divinity/Center for Loss, Death and Grief Studies Certification candidate. She and her husband, Bob Kruse, have their own compassion-social justice-based law practice, in which they represent the voiceless, neglected, abused and unaccompanied refugee children, animals and those who care for and provide them with medical and shelter services and incapacitated adults.  Ginny has also served in human hospital settings.

Ginny regularly officiates Blessings of the Animals in both religious and secular environments. For example, her most recent Blessing occurred October 6th (the 10th annual) in conjunction with ArtPrize at the Saint Francis Sculpture Garden & Path at the Dominican Center. Her next Blessing will occur at LaughFest’s People and Pets Event at Ford Field House in March 2019.

The dinner and presentation will be held in the Zoo Ballroom at 1300 Fulton St, just south of the main entrance to the zoo.

Veterinarians interested in attending the WMVMA can RSVP by Nov. 26 to sarah.faasse@wmvma.org.


Heaven at Home Honors National Animal Hospice Day November 3rd

November 2nd, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

HAHHospiceDay2018Heaven at Home joins hospice veterinarians across the nation Saturday in honoring National Hospice day. In America, 68% of households have companion animals, with 89.7 Million dogs, and 94.2 Million cats. It is estimated that between 44-48% of these pets are currently over the age of 7, meaning they are entering their senior years. Depending on species and breed, many will be preparing to cross the rainbow bridge. The quality of their end of life has become a focal point for geriatric specialists within the veterinarian community and the population at large.

“For too long, pet parents have not had the resources available to provide the highest quality of end-of-life and palliative care to their fur babies in their sunset years,” says Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home and Certified Hospice and Palliative Care Vet.

“The national animal hospice movement seeks to change that through its awareness campaign and the provision of resources as this type of service becomes more readily available to people.”

As part of National Animal Hospice Day, Heaven at Home is accepting donations to its benevolent fund to help those families in economic hardship provide in-home euthanasia services for their companion animals. Please consider making a donation if you’d like to help others have a peaceful pet passing in their own home.

History of National Animal Hospice Day

National Animal Hospice Day was created by the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care in order to give pet caregivers an opportunity to learn more about hospice and palliative care for four-legged family members in order to better understand the options and resources available. In recent years, the field of animal hospice has grown, as an increasing number of people actively seek to provide a peaceful end-of-life experience for their companions.

However, too often, pet parents are still forced to make difficult decisions about their pets’ final days without adequate information or preparation. The animal hospice and palliative care process is unique in that it provides support for both pets and their caretakers.

Families work with a hospice team that helps to ensure that all options are explored for the comfort and care of pets who have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, debilitating condition or are nearing the end of their lives. The hospice team helps to guide decision making about pain management, mobility, and nutritional needs and offers counseling to family members as they process their grief and spiritually prepare for the loss of their beloved companion.

For more information about our animal hospice services, please contact us.

For additional information about animal hospice and palliative care services, visit the International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care’s website – their FAQ page is a great place to start: https://www.iaahpc.org

Highlights of Animal Home Hospice Questions:

Excerpted from IAAHPC

What is animal hospice? What is palliative care?

Both are approaches to care for your animal friend that can be adopted when the goal shifts from cure to comfort. Both involve an interdisciplinary team of providers who offer comprehensive care on the physical, emotional and spiritual levels and include veterinarians, animal and family services providers.  The term “animal hospice” is not a place; it is a philosophy of care which became popularized in the 1970’s.  Since the 1990’s the hospice model has been applied to also caring for our pets and thus hospice and palliative care for animals is growing across the US and the world.

Why animal hospice and palliative care for my beloved pet?

In the human hospice experience, families are well-supported and empowered to provide loving care to their loved one. As a result, they find enhanced coping along the journey and healing from their loss. Many pet parents want the same care for their furry, feathered and scaled family members as they’ve seen benefit their human loved ones, and so they turn to animal hospice. Pet parents also seek satisfaction in knowing they did all they could to support their animal companion, enhancing their bond with them during this time, and create cherishing memories.

What kind of diseases or conditions would warrant hospice and/or palliative care?

The  diseases and conditions  that most frequently warrant hospice or palliative care for animals are:

●      cancer

●      organ failure [kidneys, liver and heart are common examples]

●      osteoarthritis

●      cognitive dysfunction, or dementia

●      senior pets approaching the end of life

●      failure to thrive 

●      any life-limiting condition that is contributing to an excessive burden of caregiving for a family, or treatments/interventions that are unacceptable to the pet

As a pet parent, what are my responsibilities in providing hospice for my animal friend?

Preparing to care for your aging, ill or dying pet is similar to caring for a child or aged adult. You would take time to learn about your loved one’s condition and ways to ensure the highest degree of comfort possible. You would learn how to monitor your loved one’s quality of life and then regularly communicate with the hospice team. You would make decisions with the guidance of the care team, and then take measures to act on your decisions once the appropriate time came.  Along the journey, the well-being and feelings of the human family members would be validated and supported.

How do I know if hospice care is the right decision for me and my pet?

Many pet parents choose hospice care in order to have the time to say goodbye to their companions, to plan for their death, and to ensure that all the decisions about the pet’s needs are guided by their personal view of the pet’s needs. If you have the resources to support comfort care, the time and desire to care for your pet during the last days, weeks, sometimes months of their life, and a good support team in place, then hospice care may be the right choice for you and your pet.

Why do I feel so sad already, when my animal friend was just recently diagnosed?  Few people seem to understand what I’m going through.

We know that grief associated with loss begins before the actual death occurs, and the name for this is “anticipatory grief”. These emotions may sneak up on us and affect us in many aspects of our life. Grief is work! It is never easy, but it can be easier with the support of a team that values “care for the caregiver”, a cornerstone of hospice philosophy. Yes, the ability to think clearly will directly affect how effective you can be in your care for your animal companion. Respite, or some time away from caregiving, can be important to your continued well-being.


Dr. Laurie Brush Among First to Achieve Hospice Certification

October 30th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

DrLaurie_certDr. Laurie Brush received more than a dose of warm sunshine in Arizona during her visit to the annual conference for the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC) earlier this month. She became one of the first graduates to receive a new advanced Certification as a Hospice & Palliative Care Veterinarian. 

The IAAHPC founded the continuing education program in 2016 to advance the study in hospice and palliative care for licensed veterinarians and credentialed veterinary technicians. The 100-hour AHPC Certification Program standardizes and defines the skills and knowledge required of animal hospice and palliative care providers, and establishes a standard of care that reflects excellence.

“Heaven at Home was founded in 2012 when the notion of home hospice and at-home euthanasia for pets was almost unheard of in Grand Rapids and most of Michigan,” Dr. Brush said. “IAAHPC has been an extremely valuable resource for myself and my staff to ensure we’re offering the highest level of care for companion animals at the end of their lives. I’m delighted to have been among the first 100 graduates of this new Certification Program, because it stands for compassionate end-of-life care across the country. Every pet deserves a peaceful passing with their beloved family members.”

The certification typically takes 16 months to complete, with segments on pain management, animal comfort, euthanasia techniques and ways to help families find peace and manage grief. The certification requires documentation of Case Studies, as well as on-site practical study and examination.

“It is demanding when you’re busy as we are, but we’re committed to keeping up with the latest research and techniques in our field to give the very best care to our clients fur-babies,” Dr. Brush said.

In 2013, the IAAHPC developed comprehensive guidelines for the practice of animal hospice and palliative care, which are now widely recognized among the veterinary community (see AAHA/IAAHPC End-Of-Life Care Guidelines, 2016). Since its inception in 2009, IAAHPC has helped popularize and promote the value of skilled end-of-life care for companion animals.

“There is a gap—treacherous yet barely recognized—between how we care for companion animals during their lifetime, and how we care for them during the end phase of their lives,” said Dr. Amir Shanan, IAAHPC founder and honorary advisor. “This gap has a tremendous cost in human suffering and grief, which is also barely recognized. Our program is aimed at giving veterinary professionals the tools for closing this gap.”

 

 


In Memoriam of Curby

October 24th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Curby-1-Hearts_2018Curby’s Story:

My wife and I adopted Curby from an animal rescue along with Autumn, a female mix that was much older than he, but cared for him like he was her own puppy. Curby was just 6-9 months old. That was in Jan of 2006. We soon found out that he was born with bad hip dysplasia, but that never stopped Curby! His favorite toy all his life was a bright orange rubber ball, and his favorite game was “fetch”. We would play for hours non-stop and he would wear me out and still want more! And he loved playing hide-and-seek with his ball also. Curby and I developed a very special bond. My wife would always say “He’s YOUR dog!” -especially when he did something wrong :)

I was raised with dogs, and I’ve had dogs most of my life, and I really loved them all. But I have to admit, Curby was truly special. He found a way to reach places in my heart that no other ever did. Curby had the most amazing personality and intelligence of any dog I’ve known. He just seemed to know what I wanted him to do and he’d do it. Curby always wanted to please.

Curby-3_2018
Curby-2_2018
 

We were told by the vet early on that we shouldn’t expect him to live much past 8 or 10 years because of his hip dysplasia and his size and breed, so I guess I should feel lucky that I had 12 great years with him. But I’d give anything for another day with him. Curby had a good and happy life with lots of love. And I’m thankful that he shared that life with us. He is very sorely missed, and in our thoughts every day, and in our hearts forever.

Words cannot express how thankful I am for Heaven at Home and the service you provide! It was such a hard decision to let Curby go and I refused to let him go at the vet’s office, in strange surroundings, with strangers around him. Because of you, my boy Curby was able to spend his last hours here in the comfort of his own home, on the comfort of his own bed, and with the comfort of his own loving family around him!

That meant the world to me! And I’m sure it meant the world to Curby, too! Dr. Tay was wonderful! She was very patient and compassionate and really helped us through this most difficult time. Thank you so much!


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 »


Heaven at Home Featured on eightWest

October 3rd, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

Special thanks to the team at eightWest for featuring the services of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice! If you missed the show, click on the photo below to watch the video on the eightWest website! Hami, a gorgeous 12-year-old collie with arthritis, stole the show. In this segment, Dr. Laurie Brush discusses ways to help arthritic animals be more comfortable in their sunset years with things like mats, helper-harnesses, and more. If you have a pet who can’t get around like they used to, Contact Us to request an appointment.

End_of_life_care_for_your_pets_0_57765000_ver1.0_640_360 (1)


The Conundrum of Feeding Your Senior Pet

September 18th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

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.

“It’s important to work with your routine care veterinarian and adjust your feeding approach as your pet ages,” she said.

“Obesity aggravates many conditions, such as arthritis and diabetes, and accelerates the aging process.  At the same time, if your pet is underfed or receives inadequate protein, waning muscle mass may reduce the effectiveness of your pet’s immune system. It can be a tricky balance,” she said.

In the course of the home visits that Dr. Brush and her staff make to provide palliative care for senior and terminally ill pets, she sees the product of both ends of the spectrum: overweight pets who suffer ailments and mobility issues exacerbated by overfeeding, and pets who’ve lost interest in the foods they once loved.

“Every senior pet can benefit from extra attention to nutrition,” she says. “It can make a real difference in the quality of life a senior pet enjoys.”

Understanding Energy Needs in Senior Pets

Just like humans, companion animals have individual and specific Resting and Maintenance Energy Requirements (RERs and MERs) that vary based on genetic potential, health status, and whether the animal is intact or neutered. RERs refers to the metabolic resting state; MERs refers to maintenance and is dependent on activity level. Research suggests that MERs decrease with age in dogs just as it does in humans. In one study of English Setters, Miniature Schnauzers and German Shepherds, the MERs of 11-year-old dogs were approximately 25% less than 3-year-old dogs.

Among the veterinarian community, it’s generally accepted that senior dogs require approximately 20% fewer calories than their younger peers due to this reduction in energy requirement coupled with lessened activity. To reduce weight in an overweight dog or cat, vets use a formula to calculate 80% of the calories required for RER.

On the other hand, some senior pets can suffer malnutrition and weight loss that aggravates their conditions. Veterinarians may prescribe appetite stimulants to improve nutritional intake. In this case, it is also helpful for pet parents to familiarize themselves with energy requirements to help ensure their senior pet is receiving adequate nutrition.

(See: How to Count Calories for Your Senior Pet)

The case of cats is more complex when it comes to senior energy needs. Short-term research suggested that aging cats did not experience the same kind of reduction in energy requirement, but long-term studies indicated a reduction of approximately 3% per year through age 11. From ages 12-15, however, the energy requirement per pound of weight actually increased in cats.

 

The Importance of Caloric Makeup –

Research on Protein

One belief that has long circulated in the pet food world is that senior dogs and cats need a low-protein diet to protect against kidney disease. The belief originated from  rodent research performed in the 1940s that has since been disproved. Instead, numerous research studies have confirmed that protein does not adversely affect the kidneys in either healthy older dogs or cats.

In fact, research by veterinarian nutritionist Dr. Delmar Finco, among others, suggests that the need for dietary protein may actually increase in senior pets by as much as 50%.  His research also showed that higher protein diets were associated with greater life spans.

One study comparing protein requirement in 2-year-old Beagles versus 13-year-old Beagles found that the senior dogs needed at least 50% more dietary protein.

Research also suggests that L-carnitine, a vitamin-like compound made from amino acids found in red meats, fish, chicken and dairy products, may help the body use fat for energy.

“High-quality protein with good amino acids should make up a healthy portion of a senior pet’s daily caloric intake, at least 25%. A pet parent’s veterinarian is the best resource for help ensuring this is the case,” Dr. Brush said.

Watch Fat Intake, Take Care with Carbohydrates

“Fewer of the pet’s calories should be from fat because fat leads to inflammation, which can be problematic for arthritic pets.” Dr. Brush said.

Carbohydrate percentage in pet food has been in the spotlight in recent years, with many consumers trending toward grain-free options. While Dr. Brush has heard anecdotal evidence from clients who’ve elected grain-free options, she cautions pet parents to fully discuss the implications with their veterinarians. Recently, the FDA launched an investigation into unusual cases of DCM – dilated cardiomyopathy – in pets who were fed boutique, grain-free foods high in legumes like lentils and peas. The current (and early) theory is that the legumes may interfere with the production of  the vital amino acid, L-taurine. Some manufacturers have responded by supplementing taurine, which is essential to pet metabolic health, but there are still many unknowns.

“In general, it’s best to ensure that the high-quality protein is coming from meat, not protein-dense carbohydrates,” she said.

Other Nutrient Considerations:

Apart from avoiding high-fat foods and ensuring at least 25% of calories are coming from good protein sources, there are a number of supplements that are reasonably time-tested to improve health in aging companion animals, such as Fish Oil and Glucosamine. However, all supplements are not created equal, and are not tested by the FDA. Pet parents should discuss supplements and brands with their veterinarian, and consider using supplements formulated for veterinary use.

• Fish Oil – 1,000 mg twice daily for dogs < 50 lbs, 2,000 mg daily for dogs > 50 lbs.

• Glucosamine – Many veterinarians recommend approximately 500 mg of Glucosamine and 400 mg of Chondroitin per 25 pounds. For oral Glucosamine for dogs, a typical dose may be: Dogs 5-20 pounds: 250-500 mg. Dogs 20-45 pounds: 500 mg.

• Prescription Cat & Dog Food – Most veterinary clinics supply special formulations for pets with specific health conditions. For example, pets with renal (kidney) disease should avoid foods high in phosphorus and calcium, which can exacerbate their illness.If your pet does not find one particular brand of prescription pet food palatable, there are multiple others that can be tried. Work with your veterinarian to find a food that they like and that will make them feel better.

 

Senior Feeding Problems

Depending on the age-related disease or condition of your pet, you may find that Fido has lost interest in food, has trouble chewing, or difficulty with digestion. Here are some things pet parents can do to make feeding more palatable to their senior pets.

  • Warm food slightly – it releases the aroma and heightens interest
  • Supplement with soft foods for pets that have difficulty chewing
  • Dental disease can sometimes be ameliorated with antibiotics if your pet is not healthy enough to undergo anesthesia for a dental procedure
  • Elevate the food and water dishes to make it easier for your pet to access them
  • Hand-feeding may work with some dogs
  • Adding low-sodium broth to food can make it more palatable

Feeding your senior pet an ideal diet for his or her age and condition can be complex, but help is available. Heaven at Home Pet Hospice can work with your routine care veterinarian or a veterinary nutritionist to help you manage your senior pet’s nutrition and give your fur baby the highest quality of life possible for his or her final chapter.

 


Tips & Tools to Count Calories for Your Senior Pet

September 18th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

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.

Calorie Calculators

To get a rough idea of calories required by your pet, you can use this embedded calculator from Plato Pet Foods, which is based on Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center data. However, you can also consult with your routine care veterinarian for breed-specific and diet-specific advice. See our companion article about Feeding Your Senior Pet.

Online Pet Tracking for Weight & Calories Consumed

SampleScreenHealthTrakOne tool pet parents may find helpful is a new Pet Calorie tracker developed by PetSci in the UK. HealthTrak (https://petsci.co.uk/healthtrak/) is a (beta) online system that allows you to track the caloric intake of your pet against the ideal weight sought for your pet’s breed. If your current brand of food is not in the database, it’s easy to add it by looking up the nutrient profile online or on the bag. By tracking calories and weighing your pet weekly either at your veterinarian’s office or at home, you will be able to tell how well you’re doing with a general balance between MERs (Maintenance Energy Requirements) needed and Calories consumed.

Fitness Trackers for Pets – Show Calories Expended

Fitbark_illusAnother new device can give you further insight as to your pet’s caloric expenditure based on activity level. FitBark (https://www.fitbark.com/) is one of a few new Fit-bit style canine trackers that has a nice app interface that will show you Fido’s activity level, sleep quality, and approximate calories expended each day. The lightweight device is attached to your pet’s collar and shows results on your mobile phone. The data can be shared with your vet.

But you don’t have to go high-tech to get the job done. Reading the label for true calories per cup and then feeding according to weight management charts available from your vet or online will help you manage your pet’s weight.

Online Resources include:

Body Scoring – How to Tell If Your Pet is Obese

Dog+Body+Condition+ScoreA Body Scoring Chart (BCS) is your vet’s “go-to” chart for identifying obesity in dogs and cats. Charts are graded on either a five-point or nine-point scale, and are available for both dogs and cats.

A BCS is based on four criteria: how easily felt the ribs are, how obvious the waist and abdominal tuck is, how much excess fat is beneath the skin and how much muscle mass is present. For a dog to score in the healthy range, the ribs should be easy to feel (but not see) and a defined waist, or “abdominal tuck,” should be evident when your dog is viewed from the top and side respectively. Depending on the thickness of your dog’s coat, you might have to feel for a defined waist or tuck if it is not readily visible.

 Download a PDF of a full body condition scoring chart here from the American Animal Hospital Association that includes BOTH Dogs and Cats and shows BOTH styles of scoring points with the illustration: https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/weightmgmt_bodyconditionscoring.pdf

The Science Behind Calculating Energy Requirements

If you’re interested in the formula vets use to calculate Resting Energy Requirements or RER, it’s this:  The animal’s body weight in kilograms raised to the ¾ power by 70.

For example, a 10kg (22lb) adult neutered dog of healthy weight needs RER = 70(10kg)3/4 ≈ 400 Calories/day. The RER is then multiplied by factors to estimate the pet’s total daily energy needs. Eg. Active, working dogs require 2.0 – 5.0 the RER; puppies 4 mos. to adult require 2.0 the RER, and inactive/obese-prone dogs require 1.2-1.4. Senior dogs typically need 1.2-1.4 RER, and cats approximately 1.5.


Ways to Observe National Pet Memorial Day

September 7th, 2018 by Heaven At Home Staff

PetMemorialDayHAH

Heaven at Home Pet Hospice treasures the memory of the pets our vets have helped pass peacefully. On Sunday, September 9th, we’ll join you in spirit remembering your fur-baby. Please feel free to observe National Pet Memorial Day on Sunday by sharing the story of the pet you’d like to remember on our blog’s In Memoriam section, or on our Facebook page, using the hashtag #NationalPetMemorialDay.

Ways to Observe National Pet Memorial Day

Keep both past and present pets in your mind. One popular tradition on this National Day is to plant a tree or a shrub as a living memorial. Other families make a special place in their homes, yards, or workplaces to honor their pet who has passed.

Summon up your memories of your companions to help you keep your animal’s love and presence in your heart. You can think of what was special about your fur-baby, and reminisce with family members or others who knew your friend. Look over old snapshots. Talk about the funny or silly (or annoying!) habits your pet had. Reflection will help you express and work through your grief.

Help with Grief

The West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group meets the second Tuesday of each month from 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Heaven at Home, 1530 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids MI. All are welcome. Please RSVP with Group Facilitator Ginny Mikita at 616.460.0373 by noon on the day the group meets.


 
Compassionate home care for your companions!
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