In Memoriam – Trixie

April 23rd, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Trixie’s Story:
Trixie was a Christmas gift to me 12 years ago from my husband. She was by far the sweetest best friend we could have asked for. She loved everyone and gave a lot of love to our family. God decided he needed her more now than us. We are thankful for her not having to suffer. She couldn’t have loved us anymore, or us her. We are so very sad and will need time to heal. But God is good all the time. We will never forget her! Love you Trixie to the moon and back. Love mom and dad

I can’t begin to thank Laurie for her sweet spirit and caring nature for our situation. As hard as it is to let go of our family member, I was blessed to have her be home during this time. We got to lay with her and say goodbye as she left us peacefully and went home to Jesus. Thank you all so much. God Bless. Betsy and Kevin


Assessing the Risks of Lyme Disease and Prevention in Dogs

April 17th, 2020 by Heaven At Home Staff


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 Heaven At Home Staff

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 Heaven At Home Staff

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.

Here are key talking points to discuss with your veterinarian:

DCM is referred to as a “Silent Killer” because often by the time a dog shows outward signs from an enlarged heart, it’s too late to avoid DCM. Reports include sudden collapse of seemingly healthy dogs of all ages and breeds.

Diet-Related DCM is distinct from hereditary DCM because if caught early it can be reversed by a change in food. There have now been many such cases where switching to a major brand with a veterinary nutritionist on staff and, in some cases, taurine supplementation has corrected the issue.

Low levels of taurine do not confirm a diagnosis, and in many cases, levels are normal. While a pre-screening blood test called NT-proBNP can help identify early stages of heart failure, only an echocardiogram can confirm a diagnosis.

Dog food ingredients work together. The bioavailability of certain nutrients changes, sometimes dramatically, depending on the other nutrients and foods in the recipe. This is why a helping of green beans may be harmless, but a food composed predominantly of legumes through ingredient-splitting (listing peas, chick peas, beans separately) could theoretically interfere with absorption of taurine or other nutrients vital to heart health. The quest to identify the cause continues.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) and the cardiologists and nutritionists who first uncovered Diet-Related DCM recommend selecting pet foods that have been:

  1. formulated by an on-staff Phd Veterinary Nutritionist
  2. with product research published in peer-reviewed journals
  3. and perform a minimum of live AAFCO feeding trials, with a preference for long-term digestibility research
  4. with quality testing of every batch

If you’re feeding your pet grain-free foods, be sure to discuss your options and risk with your veterinarian.

For more information, visit: https://dcmdogfood.com/


Boarding a Senior Pet for Spring Break

March 9th, 2020 by Heaven At Home Staff

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.

If you choose a licensed boarding facility, ask if there is an area designed for seniors, which is an emerging trend in the industry. Features such as an area located away from main stay and play areas, extra soundproofing, raised beds, extra-bedding, and increased monitoring create an improved experience. For example, Whiskers Pet Spa and Resort has just launched its “Villas” wing this spring, designed to cater to senior pets.

Another option is boarding with an animal hospital that also provides geriatric treatments such as hydrotherapy, acupuncture or cold laser therapy. Grand Rapids is fortunate to have several boarding facilities of this type, such as Cascade Hospital for Animals.

Other pet parents may be more inclined to seek trustworthy “in-home pet care providers” who either offer up their homes for overnight stays or come to your home. Resources available include the “Air BNB” of the pet world, Rover.com, or in-home pet sitting services. Dr. Brush recommends doing due diligence and asking specifically about caregivers’ experience with senior pets, checking references, and asking if the caregiver is bonded and insured. Trial stays will help your fur friend feel comfortable and help determine if the arrangement is the right fit before considering an extended trip.

Whichever type of boarding experience you choose, thoughtful preparation will help take the stress out of spring vacation for both you and your senior pet.


In Memoriam: JoJo

February 25th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

JoJo’s Story:
JoJo had a rough start in life, but she and I hit it off right away at the animal shelter when she was about a year old, and she came home with me. It took us a while to figure each other out, but eventually we grew into a really deep and special bond where it often felt like we could read each other’s minds. She always knew when I needed cheering up and was happy to curl up next to me and purr for awhile.

JoJo was quirky and funny and very, very clever, keeping me and my other cat on our toes. Her favorite toy in the world was a sock that got mixed into our laundry shortly after I adopted her, that she carried around for 12 years. Her favorite song was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and always came running when I sang it, even if she was in a bad mood. She bit my fingers gently several times a day to say “I love you” and loved it when I grabbed her whole face in my hand. JoJo went for hikes in the woods with me, riding on my shoulder and occasionally asking to get down so she could climb a tree or chase a bird. She liked walking on a leash, while wearing a shark costume. She always snuggled up when I was sick, and once brought me her 3 most favorite toys when I had a fever.

She had renal failure for a full, happy, energetic 5 years before it was suddenly time to say goodbye at the age of 13. I was so thankful for the wonderful years together, and for the gentle and loving goodbye that we had. The vet always tactfully referred to her as “spicy” but she was always my sweet, my wonderful, my marvelous girl.

Dr. Tay did such a wonderful job of taking care of me and JoJo in those last moments. I had been planning for years how I wanted it to happen, and was so touched that Dr. Tay and the whole staff not only lived up to what I expected, but even anticipated needs I didn’t know I would have. My last image of JoJo was far more peaceful and loving than I could have imagined. I’ve recommended their service to any friend that has found themselves in the same sad situation, knowing they’ll get the very best care. I’m sure it’s not easy to have a job that involves so much sadness, but I really hope they all understand how joyful and loving they manage to make it for their clients. It meant the world to me, always will.


In Memoriam – Savannah and Mocha

February 4th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Savannah and Mocha’s Story:

Savannah was a feisty, moody, strong willed yet caring, gentle and loving cat. She was my best friend since we brought her home as a kitten when I was 5 til she crossed the rainbow bridge 18 years later. She seemed to have a way of knowing when you were sad and needed some cuddles and would curl up on your lap.


Mocha was the opposite, a shy and timid kitty, we brought her home after our other cat suddenly passed away. Despite their differences, Savannah and Mocha were the best of friends and partners in crime. She even would help groom Savannah when she got older and arthritic. And in the end they took their final journey across the bridge side by side.

It would have been traumatic for them to be brought to the vet office so we are very thankful they could pass at home where they were comfortable. We got their paw prints and fur and they passed peacefully in their momma’s lap. Thank you so much.


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!

 


Meet Me on the Rainbow Bridge: Coping with Pet Loss

January 26th, 2020 by Heaven At Home Staff

Like their human counterparts, companion animals share an increased death rate during the holidays. Many pet parents face the winter months in mourning.

Pet loss grief can be complicated by a lack of social support, misplaced guilt, and degrees of bonding that might surpass many of our human-to-human relationships. Yet pet loss grief is often “disenfranchised grief” – grief that cannot be easily publicly mourned.

“Our cultural norms and support system play a role in how we react to the loss of our pets,” said Dr. Laurie Brush, founder of Heaven at Home Pet Hospice.

“It’s important to normalize and support pet loss grief, both in humans and in the companion animals left behind.”

Pet Loss Grief Is Real

Research into pet loss grief shows that lasting psychological – and physical – effects can be as strong as grief suffered for human loss. One study published in the New England Journal of Medicine documented a woman who suffered “broken heart syndrome,” a condition in which a person exhibits symptoms that mimic a heart attack, including hormone levels 30 times higher than normal. Another recent study by Eckerd, Barnett & Jett-Dias compared grief severity for the loss of pets vs. humans and concluded that the closeness to the deceased was the strongest predictor of grief severity, not species.

Why Pet Loss Is So Painful

Pets support our emotional well-being and reduce loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Psychologists believe pet loss is so painful because it’s multi-dimensional:

  • Loss of unconditional love
  • Loss of a protégé – It can feel like the loss of a child.
  • Loss of a “life witness”
  • Loss of multiple relationships and routines
  • Loss of primary companion

Help with Healing

Sharing feelings in the safe space created by a support group can be among the most powerful healing experiences for people. In addition, many Heaven at Home clients find that memorializing their pet and engaging in a ritual to celebrate what their fur friend meant in their lives helps with healing.

For more help with pet loss grief, join The West Michigan Pet Loss Support Group hosted the 2nd Tuesday of each month, 6:30 – 8 p.m. at Heaven at Home, 1530 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids MI. All are welcome. Please RSVP to Ginny Mikita at 616.460.0373 by noon on the meeting date.

Additional Resources You May Find Helpful:

 

Offsite Resources:

Veterinary Wisdom Pet Parents Resource Center: www.veterinarywisdom.com

Argus Institute at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital, which proves free grief counseling relating to pet loss and support to those making end of life decisions for their pets – http://csu-cvmbs.colostate.edu/vth/diagnostic-and-support/argus/Pages/default.aspx

Day By Day Pet Loss Support offers live chat support Sundays at 7p EST, Tuesdays at 8p EST, or Thursdays at 8p EST at www.daybydaypetsupport.com, Click Chat Room.


In Memoriam – Sidney

January 14th, 2020 by Laurie Brush

Sidney’s Story:
I don’t know what to say about my baby girl, Sidney. She was the perfect dog for us. She was so loyal and loving. She made us laugh daily. We loved her so much and she loved us right back. We had her from the time she was just a baby. She did so many little things that showed us what a happy girl she was. Right up until her last day.

 

 

 

 

 

I cannot say enough about Dr. Tay’s kindness and compassion. She helped us make sure Sidney was as comfortable as possible. When it came time to say good bye. She fell asleep in our arms in her own house. We miss her in a way I can’t fully describe, but it gave us such comfort that her passing was kind, gentle, compassionate, and at home.

I would highly recommend Heaven at Home. They assisted us in the last months of Sidney’s life to ensure she was as comfortable as possible. When it was time to say good bye, Dr. Tay was incredibly kind. She treated Sidney with such dignity. She totally understood we were losing a loved member of our family. Sidney’s passing was quiet and without fear.


 
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