Posts Tagged ‘senior pets’

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.] 

A 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 a veterinarian can help determine whether changes in the eyes are the result of cataracts, corneal damage, sclerosis [a cloudy appearance, but without vision loss], or another cause. In some cases, further diagnostics by an eye specialist [ophthalmologist] will be recommended.

Is surgery an option? It can be. We are fortunate to have 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 for your pet, 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? Dr. Donald Miele, a Norfolk veterinarian, has several recommendations: 

  • 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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A version of this post originally appeared on Sept. 17, 2012.

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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. [Learn more about free radicals here.]

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.

*********************************************************************************************
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

A version of this post originally appeared on Sept. 5, 2012.

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We've missed your pet - it's checkup time!
At Little Creek Veterinary Clinic, we know you’re busy and have so much on your plate – but if we haven’t seen your best friend in over a year, we want you to know it’s checkup time! 

Did You Know? Pets age faster than people, so a lot can change in your pet’s body in just one year. Set up an appointment today so we can be sure everything is A-OK.

Yearly checkups are as essential as food and love – they’re the best way to keep your pet as healthy as possible, because it’s much easier to prevent disease than to treat it.

Contact Us today to schedule your pet’s appointment. We’re looking forward to helping your pet stay happy and healthy!

 

Little Creek Veterinary Clinic 
2456 E. Little Creek Road
Norfolk, VA 23518
757-583-2619

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Cats need healthcare, too!

Cat stunts

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P1060416
Most of us think
of our cats as self-sustaining little creatures (except when it comes to using a can opener) — but the truth is, cats need vet care just like dogs.

Cats are especially stoic and will often hide signs of disease or illness until the problem becomes serious. An annual exam can help catch problems in the early stages. And even if a disease or physical disorder is not evident at the time of the exam, the veterinarian can remind you what to look for throughout the year and make health recommendations based on your cat’s age and living conditions.

If more than a year has passed since your cat had an examination, it’s time to get him to the vet.

Quick questions: Are your cat’s vaccines (including Rabies) up-to-date? When was the last time your outdoor cat’s stool was tested for parasites?

Now, take note of your cat’s everyday habits and appearance (especially cats older than 7):

  • Does it use the litterbox or has your cat begun urinating and defecating in inappropriate areas?
  • Does your cat urinate more frequently or in larger amounts than usual?
  • Does your cat eat and drink more or less than it used to?
  • Has your cat gained or lost a significant amount of weight?
  • Does your cat sleep longer hours than usual?
  • Does your cat howl or vocalize more often, especially at night?
  • Have you noticed any lumps, bumps, sores or other skin irregularities on your cat?
  • Are its eyes bright and shiny or cloudy and dull?
  • Are its ears clean and pale pink or crusty, bloody, or filled with dark wax?
  • Are its teeth clean and white or brown and coated with tartar?
  • Does your cat have foul, stinky breath?
  • Is your cat’s fur shiny and smooth or dull and spiky?
  • Does your cat have trouble jumping onto its favorite perch or climbing stairs?
  • Does your cat have fleas or Tapeworms?

Let’s get together and talk about your cat’s health:  load your cat into its carrier and bring her in for a check-up. Make notes of your concerns, so we address the changes you’re seeing in your cat at home.

One last tip: your cat’s toenails need regular trimming if she is not wearing them down on a scratching post. Learn how to clip your pet’s nails or ask us to trim them on your next visit.

 

These kittens play when the doctor's away!

These kittens play when the doctor’s away!

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This article originally posted on March 5, 2013.

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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.

*********************************************************************************************
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.

Read Full Post »

P1060416

Have we seen your cat lately?

Most of us think of our cats as self-sustaining little creatures (except when it comes to using a can opener) — but the truth is, cats need vet care just like dogs.

Cats are especially stoic and will often hide signs of disease or illness until the problem becomes serious. An annual exam can help catch problems in the early stages. And even if a disease or physical disorder is not evident at the time of the exam, the veterinarian can remind you what to look for throughout the year and make health recommendations based on your cat’s age and living conditions.

If more than a year has passed since your cat had an examination, it’s time to get him to the vet.

Quick questions: Are your cat’s vaccines (including Rabies) up-to-date? When was the last time your outdoor cat’s stool was tested for parasites?

Now, take note of your cat’s everyday habits and appearance (especially cats older than 7):

  • Does it use the litterbox or has your cat begun urinating and defecating in inappropriate areas?
  • Does your cat urinate more frequently or in larger amounts than usual?
  • Does your cat eat and drink more or less than it used to?
  • Has your cat gained or lost a significant amount of weight?
  • Does your cat sleep longer hours than usual?
  • Does your cat howl or vocalize more often, especially at night?
  • Have you noticed any lumps, bumps, sores or other skin irregularities on your cat?
  • Are its eyes bright and shiny or cloudy and dull?
  • Are its ears clean and pale pink or crusty, bloody, or filled with dark wax?
  • Are its teeth clean and white or brown and coated with tartar?
  • Does your cat have foul, stinky breath?
  • Is your cat’s fur shiny and smooth or dull and spiky?
  • Does your cat have trouble jumping onto its favorite perch or climbing stairs?
  • Does your cat have fleas or Tapeworms?

Let’s get together and talk about your cat’s health:  load your cat into its carrier and bring her in for a check-up. Make notes of your concerns, so we address the changes you’re seeing in your cat at home.

One last tip: your cat’s toenails need regular trimming if she is not wearing them down on a scratching post. Learn how to clip your pet’s nails or ask us to trim them on your next visit.

Mischievous kittens at play in our office.

Mischievous kittens at play in our office.

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