December: It’s time to celebrate senior pets.
When you are filling your pets’ stockings with all sorts of goodies and treats this holiday don’t forget the gift of good health. One of the best Christmas presents you can get for your furry friend is a senior pet check-up. During colder weather is when senior pets have the hardest time, with achy joints, traveling owners, visiting family, it can all be stressful and painful for them.
Who is considered a senior?
Cats = 10yrs+
Dogs <50 pounds = 10yrs+
Dogs >50 pounds = 8 yrs+
For any pet in this age range they are considered senior citizens and even though old age is not a disease we need to monitor more carefully for disease processes as they are more likely to occur in older age.
Tips for care of senior pets
Diet: Ensure they are eating a healthy quality balanced diet. Remember DOGS are omnivores so make sure they get fruits, veggies and grains as well as meats. CATS are strict carnivores so they only need meat products in their diet. We prefer canned only diets for cats instead of kibble. If you are making food at home ensure it is balanced with the proper minerals and vitamins. We can help you determine the best feeding amount, routine and recipe for your pet.
Exercise: Older pets get arthritis just like humans do. If a pet is limping it is because they are in pain, they don’t always whine or whimper but only limp. Cats are silent sufferers, meaning they will not show you they are in pain. Generally, with cats they do not jump up on furniture as much and sleep a little more, but they don’t typically limp or show any other signs of pain. We highly recommend joint supplements like glucosamine, chondroitin and fish oil for ALL senior pets. Arthritis gets worse if a pet is a couch potato. They tend to be more stiff and painful first thing in the morning and as the day progresses they loosen up and feel better so it is still a good idea to do nice low impact exercise like walks. Arthritis is also worse during cold and rainy days. On those days they may need an anti-inflammatory to help with pain and stiffness.
THERE ARE NO SAFE OVER THE COUNTER PAIN MEDICATIONS FOR PETS. NEVER GIVE PETS IBUPROFEN, TYELENOL OR ANY OTHER OVER THE COUNTER PAIN MEDICATION. Please consult a veterinarian before administering pain medication to your pet.
Weight: Related to both diet and exercise it is very important not to let your senior pet get overweight because the more weight they have to carry the harder it will be for them to get around when they have arthritis.
Anxiety: Older pets often have increased anxiety and are more sensitive to changes in the household such as visitors or family leaving town. They cannot hear or see as well or thermoregulate and tend to have aches and pains so all of these things can cause anxiety and stress. Often times we will see senior pets start to snap or bite in older age. This is NOT because they are a bad pet, there are underlying causes and we need to address them to make sure your senior pet is HAPPY as well as healthy. Mental health is just as important as physical health.
Annual or biannual exam: It is important to let a veterinarian do a thorough physical exam annually, in some cases biannually to determine if there are any health concerns such as dental disease, arthritis, lumps and bumps developing, etc.
Bloodwork and urinalysis: should be performed annually to make sure there are no underlying organ problems that may be developing which often have no symptoms until an organ is in end stage failure and at that point it is too late to intervene and the pet is sick. Catching organ problems as early as possible will afford your pet the best life in their golden years.
Senior pet package for $125
- Comprehensive examination from nose to tail tip
- Full panel bloodwork to assess all organ function
- Urinalysis to help assess bladder and kidney function
- Regularly a $158 value
- More than 20% discount
Distemper/Parvo Vaccine Month
In January we are giving away a FREE DHPP OR FVRCP VACCINES to every pet that comes in for a comprehensive physical exam and rabies vaccine. Last Spring we saw a large number of puppies with parvo, some of whom did not survive L The best defense against parvo is the DHPP vaccination. We also see a lot of viral respiratory infections in cats and again the best defense is the FVRCP vaccination.
DHPP = Distemper/Hepatitis/Parvovirus/Parainfluenza
FVRCP = Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis/Calicivirus+Chlamydiavirus/Panleukopenia
Canine DHPP Vaccine
Distemper is a virus that attacks a dog’s respiratory, GI and neurological system. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, lethargy, coughing, discharge from eyes or nose and sometimes they have difficulty walking around or severe weakness. At one time this was a very devastating disease that killed and permanently disabled many dogs. Thanks to our vaccines this disease is now uncommon to see but it is still out there and vacation is the best defense against this horrible disease.
Hepatitis is an adenovirus that attacks the liver causing liver inflammation and eventually failure. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, bloated belly. Once it is contracted there is no cure, but it can be managed with life-long medications and therapies. We see about 5 – 10 cases of hepatitis a year. Vaccination is the best prevention for this debilitating disease.
Parvovirus: Most people have heard of Parvo. This virus prefers young puppies under a year of age although any age dog can contract the disease. It prefers breeds such as Rottweilers and pit bulls even though any breed is susceptible these breeds seem to be more prone to getting the virus and get more severe strains. Symptoms include severe lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, sometimes with blood and sudden death. This virus strikes fast and hard and can be fatal in just 24 hours and is EXTREMELY CONTAGIOUS. It is very important to vaccinate all puppies and dogs to decrease the spread.
Parainfluenza: As the name implies this is a type of flu. It causes coughing, nose and eye discharge and fever and lethargy. Although it is rarely fatal, it can be very obnoxious to the owner and dog to cough all hours of the night and day.
Feline FVRCP Vaccine
Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) is also known as feline distemper. This is a herpes virus often called Feline Distemper. Herpes virus is a life-long disease. Once it is contracted there is no cure, we can only manage the symptoms which are coughing, sneezing, nose and eye discharge, fever and lethargy. Once again, the best defense is proper vaccination.
Calicivirus and Chlamydia virus: These viruses are very similar and difficult to distinguish between the two. They attack the upper respiratory tract and mouth causing sneezing, eye and nose discharge and severe ulcerations in the mouth that cause a lot pain and can bleed and cause the cat to drool excessively and not want to eat or drink. In severe cases the virus can become extremely severe and be fatal. It is highly contagious Like FVR these viruses are incurable and we can only manage the symptoms.
Panleukopenia: This is the cat form of parvovirus though it usually does not cause vomiting and diarrhea. This disease is also called ‘fading kitten syndrome’ It loves young kittens less than 6 months of age. It attacks the immune system causing complete depletion of all the body’s immune defense leading to death very rapidly. Usually a seemingly healthy kitten one day will be dead in just one or two days leaving an owner uncertain and sad by what happened. There is no cure, only supportive care and hope the kitten will make it but usually they don’t.
We don’t want to see any pets succumb to these diseases so for the month of January we will be doing FREE DHPP and FVRCP vaccines with the purchase of a physical exam and rabies vaccine!
Comprehensive physical exam = $25
Rabies vaccine for dogs = $15
Rabies vaccine for cats = $25
DHPP/FVRCP = $15 $0
*Must purchase all items in the package to get the offer. Offer not redeemable with any other promotions or coupons.
Dental Awareness Month in February
This year we want to reward you for seeing to your pet’s dental health by offering a 10% discount on dental procedures as well as giving away a goody bag to go home with dental treats, information and other items to help with dental health in the future.
Last February we performed 22 dental procedures on dogs and cats.
We gave $488 in discounts to our clients.
We removed 116 diseased teeth and one oral tumor!!!!!
Out of those 22 dental procedures only 5 were considered routine dental care with no extractions. I cannot stress enough the importance of routine dental care for your pet. This is achieved several ways:
1) Brush your pet’s teeth or offer dental treats routinely. We have several options here: CET chews, Oravet Chews, tooth brushes with yummy flavored tooth paste. Daily teeth cleaning in the home is the gold standard for oral health in your pet.
2) Annual physical exams by a veterinarian so we can check the teeth. We are looking for signs of gingivitis, tartar and periodontal disease. We want to catch it early when it’s a stage one so it is a simple routine cleaning and polishing of the teeth.
3) Dental disease is one of the most common diseases in dogs and cats. ~70% of dogs and cats are affected by dental disease by the time they are 3 years old. Some of it is genetics and some of it is the fact that we don’t brush their teeth or offer them dental treats. Even if you can’t do either of those things it is so important to have routine cleaning by a veterinarian while the pet is under sedation. A veterinarian will NOT recommend a dental cleaning unless it is necessary. We will weigh the risks of anesthesia with the benefits of cleaning the teeth and help you make an informed decision.
4) Dental level 3 and 4 are considered oral surgery and there are multiple extractions. The pet is often compromised by systemic infection. Bacteria from the mouth can translocate to other organs in the body causing short term or long-term complications. It is ideal to avoid Level 3 and 4.
5) Extractions are sometimes thought to be a bad thing. Try to dispel that mindset. Since most pets do not get daily teeth brushing, typically they have more severe dental disease than compared to humans. If a tooth has root exposure, pockets, recession or other forms of disease that will cause it to become infected we usually extract the tooth to prevent future problems. Many owners see this as a negative and are upset to hear their pet may need extractions. I promise you: if we extract a tooth it is because it is medically necessary for the pet’s health and we will discuss with you if any alteration of food and diet is necessary but usually it is not.
6) Anesthesia and sedation is a risk but it is not possible to perform a proper dental cleaning and assessment on an awake pet. Again, if your veterinarian recommends sedation and dental cleaning for your pet the risks and benefits have been weighed and determined to be safe and what is best for your pet.
7) Here at Shepherd of the Hills Veterinary Clinic we use safe anesthesia medications and we have anesthesia monitoring with every patient. That includes blood pressure, EKG, temperature, pulse oximetry and respiration. We give every patient IV fluids to support their cardiovascular system. We have trained and dedicated technicians to monitor them every step of the way. On level 3 and 4 bloodwork is included in the dental package to help guide us with treatment and medication. Level 2 – 4 include pain medications and antibiotics. We strive to practice the safest medicine, surgery and anesthesia possible so you can rest assured that your pet is in good hands.