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Posts Tagged ‘geriatric health’

Previously, on the Little Creek Veterinary Clinic blog, we discussed the importance of yearly check-ups for cats. Cats benefit from wellness care and from early intervention when you notice signs of trouble. [Click the link above to review the list.]

However, we have heard from owners who would rather avoid bringing their cat to the doctor, if the cat appears healthy. Common sticking points for owners are that their cat puts up a fuss at going into the carrier, leaving the house, going for a car ride, or being handled by the veterinary team (whom the cat sees infrequently.)

But since you know that yearly health check-ups and preventative care, such as vaccinations and parasite control, are important components of pet care, you’ll want to find a way to make getting your cat to the vet easier and less stressful — for you and your pet.

Try these tips from BI-Vetmedica, available in a brochure at our office:

  • Start with a carrier that is easy to take your cat in and out of (top-loading carriers work best.)
  • Help your cat be more comfortable in the car by using the carrier and taking shorter rides to places other than the veterinary clinic.
  • Avoid feeding your cat for several hours before riding in the car (cats travel better on an empty stomach.)
  • Bring your cat’s favorite treats and toys with you to the veterinary clinic.
  • Practice regular care routines at home, like grooming, nail trimming and teeth brushing.
  • Pretend to do routine veterinary procedures with your cat, like touching the cat’s face, ears, feet and tail.
  • Give your cat and the veterinary healthcare team a chance to interact in a less stressful situation by taking your cat to the clinic for a weight check, rather than only for exams and procedures.

Bonus Tip 1: Leave the cat carrier out where your cat can access and explore it. Put a blanket and toy or treats in the carrier, and allow your cat to nap in its comfy little nest. Encourage your cat to become accustomed to the carrier as a “happy place.”

Bonus Tip 2: Spritz the inside of the carrier with Feliway synthetic calming pheromone 15 minutes before you place your cat in it for the ride to the vet. Then spray Feliway on a towel and place the towel over the carrier in the car and at the veterinary clinic. 

Check out these extra ideas from Catster.com.

Angell Animal Medical Center has produced this video as a guide to placing your cat in its carrier.

Ready to make your cat’s veterinary appointment? Contact Us to let us know!

 

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Cats can be such quiet, independent creatures that it is easy to forget they need regular doctor visits, just like dogs.

Cats should receive a yearly check-up, fecal analysis, and vaccine boosters. And remember to pick up their flea and heartworm preventatives (such as Revolution)!

Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, says the good news is, certain conditions viral diseases and parasite infestation can be prevented or quickly treated — but aging brings its own problems, and you can’t stop the sands of time. That’s why it’s important to combine careful observation with annual veterinary check-ups.

Cats are notorious for hiding pain and illness, but you can use your detective skills to know when there’s a problem.

Look for these signs — and Contact Us at Little Creek Veterinary Clinic to request a brochure with detailed information on each:

  • Peeing or pooping outside the litterbox
  • Becoming less social
  • Decrease in activity
  • Changes in sleep habits
  • Increase or decrease in food and water consumption
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Over-grooming or under-grooming
  • Howling; increased vocalization
  • Bad breath

Remember: you don’t have to wait for your cat to be sick before scheduling a visit with the veterinarian!

Coming up next: What you can do to prepare your cat for veterinary visits.

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   Dasuquin is our go-to joint supplement for dogs and cats that are suffering from arthritis or are prone to joint health issues.  Unlike other products on the market, Dasuquin combines glucosamine and chondroitin with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables* (ASU).  ASU supports joint function and slows cartilage loss, giving Dasuquin an advantage over glucosamine/chondroitin-only products.

   Now, we could rave about the levels of cartilage-building glucosamine and chondroitin in Dasuquin, or its safety when used with prescription medications, or even the Dasuquin for Cats added benefit of supporting bladder health. 

   But it’s our clients’ feedback that we’re most impressed with.  We’re hearing that pets taking Dasuquin on a regular basis are more active and are walking and jumping better.  Some clients have even been able to reduce or discontinue their pet’s pain medication, in favor of this no-drug supplement.

  Bonus:  Be sure to visit the links above to claim your $2 Dasuquin rebate.

The key to using Dasuquin successfully is to start while cartilage is still present in the joints.  Once the cartilage is gone, no amount of supplement will bring it back.  Don’t wait until your pet is unable to walk, to begin a supplement. 

   Ask about Dasuquin if your pet is exhibiting these signs:

  • stiff walking gait, especially after sleeping;
  • difficulty or reluctance using stairs or jumping into the car;
  • less enthusiasm for walks and exercise;
  • difficulty rising from a reclining or sitting position.

Need a little nudge? Dasuquin comes with a money-back guarantee, so you can try it out on your pickiest eater!

*Unsaponifiable:  a word used to describe fats which cannot be converted into soap.
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“Mikey,” a 9-year-old Labrador, refuses to go down the short set of steps to the yard. Instead, he stays inside and urinates and defecates near the back door. 

“Jester,” a 14-year-old Siamese cat, no longer runs to the kitchen at the sound of the can opener. He sleeps during the day and spends most nights howling outside his owner’s bedroom door.

“Ginny,” a 12-year-old Cocker Spaniel, spends hours staring at the wall and has no interest in retrieving her favorite toy.

What do these three senior pets have in common? They may be suffering the usual effects of aging: arthritis for “Mikey,” hearing loss for “Jester,” and blindness for “Ginny” — or they may all have Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome.

Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome (CDS) is the result of degenerative brain aging that leads to lost or reduced memory, ability to learn, attention span, and understanding. For comparison, CDS is thought to be similar to Alzheimer’s Disease.

What are the signs? Typical behavior in pets with Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome are divided into categories labeled DISH.

  • Disorientation: the pet wanders, seems lost or confused and may not recognize familiar people; doesn’t respond to his name; he may get “stuck” in corners or behind furniture; he may stare into space or at walls
  • Interaction changes: the pet may walk away while being petted, doesn’t greet her owners, and seems aloof or detached
  • Sleep and activity changes: the pet may sleep more during the day, but stay awake at night, and no longer wants to play; he may wander or pace and have less purposeful activity
  • Housesoiling: the pet doesn’t signal the need to go out and has accidents in the house

    Is he lost in thought – or just lost?

What’s next? The veterinarian will check your pet for other medical issues that may be related to aging, such as arthritis, loss of vision or hearing, incontinence, or a disease process (kidney disease or diabetes, for example.) Some symptoms may be the result of medications that the pet is taking. Changes in the pet’s environment can also cause behavioral problems. Of course, a pet can have age-related problems at the same time he is experiencing the effects of brain aging.

Is there a cure for Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome? There is no cure, but nutritional and medical intervention can slow the progression of the disorder and return some cognitive function.

What are the options? Treatment may consist of a diet change. For instance, Hill’s Pet Nutrition has formulated its b/d Diet to address brain aging through the use of antioxidants that protect brain cells from destructive free radicals.

Another option is Anipryl, a prescription drug that enhances dopamine production, allowing brain cells to better communicate with each other. Anipryl is not right for every dog, though, and certain endocrine function tests must be performed first, to determine suitability. Also, Anipryl is not recommended to treat aggression in dogs.

For cats, mental stimulation can help with cognitive function. Keep your cat busy climbing, exploring, searching for treats, and using its natural hunting instincts.

Where do I start? If you suspect your pet has Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome, schedule a physical exam for her. Keep a journal of the pet’s behavior leading up to the visit. Contact us and ask to receive a Behavior History Form to help track your pet’s activity. Bring the form with you to your pet’s appointment.

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Resources:
“Brain Health and Behavioral Changes in Dogs,” a Hill’s Pet Nutrition publication;
Anipryl brochure, a Pfizer Animal Health publication;
“Senior Pet Care and Cognitive Dysfunction Syndrome,” by David Merrick and Dr. Gary Landsberg

This article was originally posted on September 5, 2012.

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Cataracts are a common disorder of the eyes, often in aging dogs, although young animals can develop them, too. Cataracts are seen less frequently in cats.

A pet owner’s first indication that their dog or cat has impaired vision may be that the pet has difficulty seeing in low light.

What is a cataract? It is an opaque* area of the lens or its outer covering (capsule.)
[*Not allowing light through.] 

The cataract may be a tiny spot or it may cover the entire lens.
A cataract can develop within a few days or over a number of years.

Cataracts can be hereditary and can lead to blindness.

Breeds often affected* include:

  • miniature poodle
  • American cocker spaniel 
  • miniature schnauzer
  • golden retriever
  • Boston Terrier
  • Siberian husky

[*The complete list is much longer.]

Though rare, cats such as the Persian, Birman, and Himalayan have also been afflicted with hereditary cataracts.

Other causes of cataracts include:

  • aging
  • diabetes
  • electric shock
  • exposure to extreme heat or radiation
  • exposure to toxins
  • injury to the eye
  • poor nutrition as pups and kittens
  • retinal degeneration
  • uveitis (a type of inflammation of the eye)

An examination by the veterinarian can determine whether visual impairment is the result of cataracts, corneal damage, sclerosis (a cloudy appearance, but without vision loss), or another cause.

Is surgery an option? It can be. We are fortunate to have a group of veterinary ophthalmologists in our area who are able to evaluate cataracts for surgical treatment. Not all pets will qualify. In fact, if you are considering surgery, time is of the essence. As the cataract progresses, the retina and lens can become so damaged that the pet will not regain its sight even if surgery is performed.

What kind of medicine will help? Cataracts cannot be treated with medicine. However, the veterinarian may dispense medication for other disorders of the eye occurring at the same time.

What can I do? Try to keep furniture where it is; your pet has likely learned to navigate it well and any changes in furniture arrangements will lead to painful run-ins with chairs and tables. Help your pet up and down stairs. Follow your dog into the yard to make sure he doesn’t get lost or “stuck.” Monitor his eyes for any changes in appearance and report changes or concerns to the doctor.

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Resources include:
Saunders Comprehensive Veterinary Dictionary
Saunders Manual of Small Animal Practice
The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult

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     This month, we are focusing on topics related to geriatric health. We began with a post on Brain Aging. Today, we’ll look at a product designed to get your pet moving again. Next week: cataracts!
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     Dasuquin is our go-to joint supplement for dogs and cats that are suffering from arthritis or are prone to joint health issues.  Unlike other products on the market, Dasuquin combines glucosamine and chondroitin with avocado/soybean unsaponifiables* (ASU).  ASU supports joint function and slows cartilage loss, giving Dasuquin an advantage over glucosamine/chondroitin-only products.

     Now, we could rave about the levels of cartilage-building glucosamine and chondroitin in Dasuquin, or its safety when used with prescription medications, or even the Dasuquin for Cats added benefit of supporting bladder health. 

     But it’s our clients’ feedback that we’re most impressed with.  We’re hearing that pets taking Dasuquin on a regular basis are more active and are walking and jumping better.  Some clients have even been able to reduce or discontinue their pet’s pain medication, in favor of this no-drug supplement.

     The key to using Dasuquin successfully is to start while cartilage is still present in the joints.  Once the cartilage is gone, no amount of supplement will bring it back.  Don’t wait until your pet is unable to walk, to begin a supplement. 

     Ask about Dasuquin if your pet is exhibiting these signs:

  • stiff walking gait, especially after sleeping;
  • difficulty or reluctance using stairs or jumping into the car;
  • less enthusiasm for walks and exercise;
  • difficulty rising from a reclining or sitting position.

Bonus:  Be sure to visit the links above to claim your $2 Dasuquin rebate.

*Unsaponifiable:  a word used to describe fats which cannot be converted into soap.
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This post originally appeared on this blog on October 18, 2011.

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