Lyme disease (Lyme borreliosis) is an illness that affects both animals and humans – what is known as a zoonotic disease – and is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Transmitted through tick bites, the disease can be difficult to detect and can cause serious and recurring health problems. Therefore, it is best to prevent infection by taking appropriate measures to prevent tick bites and, for dogs, possibly vaccinating against the disease.
The bacterium that causes Lyme disease – a worm-like, spiral-shaped bacterium called Borrelia burgdorferi – is carried and transmitted primarily by the tiny black-legged tick known as the deer tick. Deer ticks are found in forests or grassy, wooded, marshy areas near rivers, lakes or oceans. People or animals may be bitten by deer ticks during outdoor activities such as hiking or camping, or even while spending time in their back yards.
Named after numerous cases were identified in Lyme, Conn., in 1975, the disease has since been reported in humans and animals across the United States and around the world. Within the U.S., it appears primarily in specific areas including the southern New England states; eastern Mid-Atlantic states; the upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota; and on the West Coast, particularly northern California. The CDC maintains a map detailing confirmed cases of Lyme disease throughout the years.
Lyme disease is a reportable disease – which means that health care providers and laboratories that diagnose cases of laboratory-confirmed Lyme disease are required to report those cases to their local or state health departments, which in turn report the cases to the CDC.
How to prevent Lyme disease:The best way to protect pets from Lyme disease is to take preventive measures to reduce the chance of contracting the disease. Even during the last weeks of summer, it's important to remember that pets and people are at greater risk of being infected with Lyme disease and other tick-borne diseases such as anaplasmosis, ehrlichiosis, or Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
People with pets should:
Lyme disease in pets – symptoms and treatment:
Pets infected with Lyme disease may not show any signs for 2-5 months. After that time, typical symptoms include:
Horses with Lyme disease can develop lameness, joint pain, neurologic disease, eye problems and dermatitis.
Symptomatically, Lyme disease can be difficult to distinguish from anaplasmosis because the signs of the diseases are very similar, and they occur in essentially the same areas of the country. Lyme disease is diagnosed through a blood test that shows whether an animal has been exposed to the bacterium.
Antibiotics usually provide effective treatment for Lyme disease. However, it’s important to follow your veterinarian’s advice regarding follow-up care after your pet has been diagnosed with and treated for the disease.
Lyme disease is not communicable from one animal to another, except through tick bites. However, if you have more than one pet and one is diagnosed with Lyme disease, your veterinarian might recommend testing for any other pets who may have been exposed to ticks at the same time. In fact, because people and their pets often can be found together outdoors as well as indoors, a Lyme disease diagnosis in any family member – whether human or non-human – should serve as a flag that all family members might consult their physicians and veterinarians, who can advise about further evaluation or testing.
It's a "One Health" problem:
Because people and their pets often spend time in the same environments where Lyme and other disease-transmitting ticks are found, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) are working together to offer advice to households with both children and pets. People who have been diagnosed with Lyme disease should consult their veterinarian to determine their pet's risk based on the animal's lifestyle and possible environmental exposures. Likewise, people whose animals have been diagnosed with Lyme disease may want to consult their physician about their own or their children’s risk if they have concerns that the animals and family members might have been exposed to similar environmental risks.
Thousands of cases of Lyme disease have been reported in humans and animals across the United States and around the world. By knowing about Lyme disease and how to prevent it, you can help keep all members of your family — human and animal — safe.
Lyme disease in people:In humans, often the earliest indication of infection is a "bullseye" rash at the site of the tick bite – so named because it resembles a target. As the infection develops, symptoms include fever, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. The disease can progress to cause chronic joint problems as well as heart and neurological problems. As with pets, Lyme disease is not contagious from one person to another.
There are many things people can do to avoid exposure to tick bites. These include:
(Information provided by www.avma.org and TickEncounter Resource Center)
Gum disease is usually silent. When it starts there are no outward signs and symptoms. Yet once it advances, gum disease can devastate your dog's mouth, causing chronic pain, eroded gums, missing teeth, and bone loss -- a fate hardly fair to man's best friend.
Fortunately, it doesn't have to be that way. Though gum disease in dogs is regrettably common, it can be prevented. To find out how, WebMD talked to experts: specialists in veterinary dentistry. They told us why dogs get gum disease, its complications and treatment, and ultimately, how gum disease in a dog can be prevented or at least slowed.
Why Do Dogs Get Gum Disease?
Blame bacteria for gum disease in people and in pets. Almost immediately after an animal eats, bacteria, along with food, saliva, and other particles, begin forming a sticky film called plaque over teeth.
"The bacteria in plaque does a lot of things," says Brett Beckman, DVM, FAVD, DAVDC, DAAPM, a veterinary dentist practicing in Florida and Georgia. "But one thing it does both in pets and humans is to cause our immune system to recognize it as foreign."
When the body of your dog senses a foreign invader, it marshals white blood cells to attack. In turn, the bacteria in plaque tells the white blood cells to release enzymes to break down gum tissue. This skirmish leads to inflamed gums, destroyed tissue, and loss of bone. The end result: Tooth loss.
Gum disease, also called periodontal disease, happens five times more often in dogs than in people, says Colleen O'Morrow, DVM, a veterinary dentist in Manitoba, Canada, and fellow of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry. The reason? Dogs have a more alkaline mouth than humans, which promotes plaque formation. Also, most pets don't have their teeth brushed every day, giving plaque-forming bacteria the chance they need to multiply.
What Are the Symptoms of Gum Disease in Dogs?
Unfortunately, the first symptoms of gum disease in dogs are no symptoms at all at first, Beckman says.
It’s rare that pet owners ever notice signs of gum disease in their dog, and if they do, the gum disease is very advanced. By then, your dog may be living with chronic pain, which animals instinctively hide to avoid showing weakness.
Some symptoms of severe gum disease include:
"The ultimate complication is one I see too commonly, and that is pathologic jaw fracture," Beckman says. Over time, untreated gum disease can destroy bone to such an extent that even a little pressure will fracture a small dog's weakened jaw.
Preventing Gum Disease in Dogs:
Pets’ teeth should be brushed twice a day, just like humans’ teeth, O'Morrow tells WebMD. "If we can minimize bacteria and their by-products, a normal body will provide a suitable defense to maintain a healthy mouth."
Working with your veterinarian, follow these four steps to prevent or slow painful gum disease in your dog:
Treating Gum Disease in Dogs:
It's only recently that most of us have even heard of dentistry for dogs, so chances are good your dog may already have some gum disease. Studies show that more than 80% percent of dogs have some stage of periodontal disease by the age of 3.
Once the problem is under way, treatment depends on its stage, though initially all treatment requires an exam and X-rays to determine the presence (or absence) of disease.
(Information provided by https://pets.webmd.com)
There’s nothing quite like the first few days of fall. The crisp, cool air and beautiful foliage get you excited for the changing of seasons, and we’re sure your pets are also welcoming a break from summer's hot, sticky weather. But despite all of the pleasant perks the season ushers in, fall can also be a time of lurking dangers for our furry friends.
Here are some handy tips to keep your pets happy, safe and healthy during the autumn months.
Beware of Rodenticides:
The use of rat and mouse poisons increases in the fall as rodents seek shelter from the cooler temperatures by attempting to move indoors. Rodenticides are highly toxic to pets and, if ingested, the results could be fatal. If you must use these products, please do so with extreme caution and put them out of paws’ reach.
Use Caution with “Cold Weather Poisons":
Many people choose fall as the time to change their car's engine coolant. Ethylene glycol-based coolants are highly toxic, so any spills should be cleaned up immediately. Consider switching to propylene glycol-based coolants—though they aren't completely nontoxic, they are much less toxic than other engine coolants.
Keep An Eye On Your School Supplies, and Make Sure They are Safely Tucked Away:
Fall is back-to-school time, and for some of you that can mean stocking up on supplies like glue sticks, pencils and magic markers. Although these items are not highly toxic to pets, gastrointestinal upset or blockage can occur if they are ingested. Be sure to keep your school supplies up and away from your pet’s reach.
Be On the Lookout for—and Steer Clear of—Mushrooms:
Fall is one of the high seasons for mushrooms. While 99% of mushrooms have little or no toxicity, the 1% that are highly toxic can cause life-threatening problems in pets. Since most toxic mushrooms are difficult to distinguish from nontoxic ones, the best way to prevent pets from ingesting these poisonous plants is to keep them away from areas where any mushrooms are growing. Contact your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435 immediately if you witness your pet eating a wild mushroom.
Watch Out for Wildlife:
Autumn is the season when snakes preparing for hibernation—meaning they’re more out in the open than usual. This increases the possibility of bites in pets who are unlucky enough to find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. Pet parents should determine what kinds of venomous snakes may be lurking in their environment and where those snakes are most likely to be found, then avoid those areas to keep pets out of harm’s way.
Information Provided by www.aspca.org
The Stratford Day festival was quite the occasion for Oronoque Animal Hospital's first appearance in the community! With excited smiles and a bunch of work, the staff were ready to put a face to the name and greet the neighborhood!
As the festivities began, it didn't take long for families to step up to meet us and find out all about Oronoque Animal Hospital. We even had some current clients who were happy to greet us with a show of support!
We were excited to see so many pets at the festival, it made for some great meet and greets with new friends and families!
With the help of Dr. Kissel and Dr. Yessenow, we even helped to answer some great questions from many of the festival goers as well! It felt great to be a voice as well as a face in the community and was certainly the perfect way to start as well!
Before we knew it, the day had come and gone and we could not have been more satisfied with the outcome! We can't wait for the next opportunity to share who we are to other families in the area!
We would like to thank all of our clients who stopped by to say hello and be a supportive presence for our first outing!
We typically get fewer questions from our cat clients about their kitty’s teeth and mouth than inquiries from dog guardians. We do have a few theories on this phenomenon:
1. We think in general cat guardians have less direct interaction with their cat’s mouths (i.e. not as much kissing or licking. Cats are far too dignified for that.).
2. Cat guardians have less direct contact with their pet’s mouth through chew toys and bouts of tug-of-war (as if a cat could be bothered).
3. The fact that poking around a cat’s mouth often results in deep puncture wounds (well…duh).
But when they do ask questions, they’re some of the best, most challenging and interesting inquiries you’ll encounter. Read on; you just may learn something or get a chuckle or two.
1. How many teeth do cats have? I only see two – the fangs.
Cats have 30 adult teeth and 26 baby teeth. That’s far fewer than dogs (42 and 28) and less than humans (32 and 20). Those “fangs” or upper canine teeth often protrude saber-tooth tiger style and lend some cats an intimidating smile.
2. When do cats get their baby and adult teeth?
Observing the eruption or emergence of teeth is a great method for estimating a kitten’s age. This is particularly helpful when faced with a stray kitten. The first teeth to erupt are the tiny front teeth or incisors and the long, pointy canines (some people still refer to them as “fangs.” Blame it on Twilight.). The primary (or “baby”) incisors and canines become visible around three to four weeks of age. The teeth immediately behind the canines, the premolars, quickly follow the front teeth. This typically occurs when the kittens are around five to six weeks old. The permanent teeth erupt around 11 to 16 weeks of age, beginning with the incisors followed by the canines at 12 to 20 weeks. The premolars are in place by 16 to 20 weeks of age. The difficult-to-see, way-in-the-back molars emerge around 20 to 24 weeks.
3. Do cats get cavities?
Dental caries, or “cavities” for the rest of us not calling ourselves “Dentist,” are rare in cats and dogs. This is due in part to a cat’s relatively low-sugar diet, differences in oral bacteria, and the shape of the teeth. When cavities occur, they can be painful and require similar repair procedures as humans with cavities, or, dental caries.
4. Why are cat bites so bad and likely to get infected?
Anyone who’s worked with and handled enough cats knows that when you’re bitten (note we said “when”) by a cat, not only does it hurt like you-know-what but those deep puncture wounds are likely to become infected or abscessed. The first answer lies within the unique anatomy of one of a cat’s main weapons – those long, sharp, pointy canines. Designed similar to hypodermic needles, these teeth excel at penetrating flesh intensely, damaging underlying structures such as arteries and veins. In addition, like that needle, they carry pathogenic bacteria deep inside the body. As the tooth is withdrawn, the narrow puncture wound closes onto itself, trapping behind infection that later becomes an abscess. Making matters worse, a cat’s mouth contains several species of highly pathogenic microorganisms. Don’t take a chance if you’re bitten. Flush the wound thoroughly and seek medical attention.
5. Can cats re-grow their teeth? Do their teeth keep growing their entire lives?
No and no. Sharks are probably the animal you’re thinking of. After a cat gets all 30 permanent teeth in place, that’s it. No more. Lose one and your cat is forever down to 29. Unlike rodents, a cat’s teeth don’t keep on growing.
6. Do cats need braces?
You jest but some cats do, in fact, need braces to correct some very severe oral malformations. The most common reasons for feline brace-face include lance or saber-like canine projections of the upper canines in Persian cats. “Wry bite” is another problem that results when an uneven bite occurs, causing one or both canines to protrude at odd angles, preventing normal eating and drinking. Braces for cats aren’t for cosmetic but literally life-saving conditions.
7. My vet said my cat had some painful tooth problem that may require extraction of several teeth. Is this legit?
I’m guessing your cat may be one of the millions of cats affected by an unusual, exceptionally common and extremely painful condition known most often as feline ondoclastic resorptive lesions, or FORLs. Most cats with FORLs are over five years old. The most common clinical signs associated with FORLs include excessive salivation, bleeding from the gum line or teeth, and difficulty eating. Many of our patients will suddenly become “picky” and refuse to eat dry kibble. There are many treatments available, but extraction is still the most commonly performed procedure to relieve this excruciating condition. The exact cause of FORLs has yet to be determined, although researchers are actively pursuing several theories.
8. Can cats get mouth cancer?
Sadly, yes. Oral tumors in cats are very serious and require immediate and aggressive treatment. Squamous cell carcinomas (SCC) are the most common malignant oral tumor in cats, although many other forms of cancer occur. If you observe any lumps, swelling, or discolored areas in your cats’ mouth, have it seen as soon as possible.
9. My cat has swollen gums and his entire mouth seems inflamed. What’s going on?
Our biggest concern is your cat has a condition called stomatitis (more correctly referred to as lymphocytic plasmacytic gingivitis pharangitis syndrome). This condition is also very painful and most cats have problems eating and swallowing, weight loss, and excessive salivation. Treatments vary widely and cats respond differently to an assortment of options. The exact cause is unknown although an underlying immune-mediated disorder is strongly suspected.
10. I can’t brush my cat’s teeth! Am I a bad pet parent?
If not brushing your cat’s teeth is your worst offense, we are not going to say you’re a bad kitty momma. Besides, I’ll let you in on a secret; many owners don’t brush their cats’ teeth, either. Instead, they will have their teeth regularly cleaned (typically at least once a year) under anesthesia by one of our skilled veterinary technicians. We also give them chew treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to help reduce tartar in cats. Some cats will tolerate oral antimicrobial rinses so they get their “mouth wash” a few times each week. Finally, we ask owners to make it a habit to (carefully) lift the lips of their cats and examine their teeth and gums each week to make sure everything looks healthy. So don’t fret; take your cats to your veterinarian at least once a year, have the teeth cleaned by a professional when needed, conduct routine home mouth checks, and use products proven to help keep your kitty’s mouth healthy!
(Information provided by pethealthnetwork.com)
Dogs are remarkable creatures. From the tip of their cold noses to the ends of their wagging tails, canine anatomy is as beautiful and graceful as it is unique and fascinating. The mouth, teeth and skull of dogs are incredibly well adapted to meet the needs of one of nature’s most perfectly designed scavengers. The oral cavity of the dog is also the source of many myths and misunderstandings that lead to some potentially serious problems. Here are some of the most common, interesting and important dental questions we hear all the time!
1. How many teeth do dogs have?
The average adult dog has about a third more teeth than his human counterpart. Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth compared to a measly 32 average human teeth (not counting any wisdom teeth. Those are “bonus.”). Puppies possess 28 baby teeth while human babies will have 20 deciduous or “baby” teeth.
2. When do dogs begin to lose their baby teeth?
Puppies begin losing baby teeth around 12 to 16 weeks of age. By four months of age, almost all of a pup’s deciduous teeth have been shed and many of the permanent teeth have already erupted and are in place.
3. Can you tell how old a dog is by looking at his teeth?
The answer is, it depends. When dogs are young, you can estimate their age by observing which teeth have erupted. For example, a puppy’s deciduous incisors typically erupt between 4 to 6 weeks of age and the permanent incisors are in place by 12 to 16 weeks. The canines or “fang teeth” emerge at 3 to 5 weeks and the permanent canines by 12 to 16 weeks. By the time the permanent molars are present, the dog is 4 to 6 months old. In general, once a dog reaches six months of age, all or least most of his permanent teeth are visible.
4. Can dogs regrow adult teeth if they lose them?
This is a common myth we are asked about by many dog owners. Unlike species such as sharks, dogs can’t regrow lost or damaged teeth. If they lose an adult tooth, they lose it forever, just as in humans. This is why it’s so important to take good care of your pets' teeth. They’ve got to last a lifetime. Conversely, we see absolutely no reason for a shark to have its teeth brushed. At least not by us!
5. Do dogs get cavities?
Dental caries or “cavities” as they’re more commonly known, are rare in dogs. This is due to many factors including a relatively low-sugar diet, differences in mouth bacteria, and the shape of the teeth. In severe cases involving tooth root exposure, endodontic procedures will be performed such as root canal and capping. Extraction of the affected tooth is required in certain cases. Another good reason to provide dental care for your dog.
6. Do small or large dogs have more problems with their teeth?
Dogs both large and small can develop serious oral and periodontal problems. In small dogs with short snouts and cramped jaws, we tend to see more issues with plaque, tartar, and dental calculus buildup. This leads to gum and periodontal disease and eventually painful loose teeth. Small dogs may chip and break tiny teeth if permitted to gnaw on hard toys. Larger breeds tend to experience more traumatic injuries to teeth and gums such as fractured tooth tips, broken jaws, and worn tooth surfaces. If the tooth root becomes exposed, this results in severe pain and death of the tooth. Larger dogs can also develop the same plaque and tartar buildup as well as the gum and periodontal disease of their smaller siblings.
7. How can I tell if my dog has gum disease?
Start by lifting your dog’s lips. If you see dirty or discolored teeth, typically an ugly brownish-greenish color, schedule an appointment as soon as possible. This is likely tartar or plaque and is an early sign of imminent gum or periodontal disease. Next examine the gums for any swelling or redness. If you brush your fingertip along the gum line and observe the tissues become angry and inflamed or even bleed, this indicates more serious gum infection and disease. Finally, take a whiff. If your dog’s breath is fetid and foul, this is usually associated with bacterial infection. “Doggie breath” shouldn’t be a reason to avoid your dog. Remember that sweet smelling “puppy breath?” A dog with a healthy mouth should have pleasant or at least neutral odor. If your dog exhibits any of these signs, see us so we can help!
8. What’s that really big tooth in the middle of my dog’s upper jaw?
The largest tooth in a dog’s mouth is the upper fourth premolar also known as the carnassial tooth. Its special shape and tooth surface is designed to help shear, crush and hold. This is why you see dogs grasp chew toys with the side of their mouth, chomping feverishly. This is also why you have to replace so many chew toys. Next time blame the carnassial teeth instead of your dog.
9. I heard that dogs could get mouth cancer. Is that true?
Unfortunately oral tumors are diagnosed in many dogs. Malignant oral tumors in dogs can be very aggressive and quickly spread throughout the body if untreated. If you observe any swelling, lumps, or dark and unusual colored tissue in your dog’s mouth, have it examined immediately. If diagnosed early, many oral cancers have a relatively good prognosis.
10. I’ve tried many times to brush my dog’s teeth with no success. She seems to hate it. Is there anything else I can do to take better care of my dog’s teeth?
You’re not alone. In fact, we personally struggle with this very basic procedure in our own pets! Firstly, It's important to know that having your pet's teeth professionally cleaned under anesthesia may seem worrisome or scary but our doctor's and skilled technicians are here to ease your fears and hesitations. We use the safest anesthetic protocols as well as pre-dental exams and bloodwork prior to the procedure so there are no surprises. This is perhaps the single most important thing a pet parent can do for their pet when they can’t brush their pet's teeth daily, which is why annual visits are also important! Next, we make sure to provide our client's pets with recommended chew treats approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to help remove plaque and tartar. Many have special ingredients embedded in them that help reduce harmful mouth bacteria. There are antimicrobial rinses available which are designed to kill pathogenic bacteria that can cause gum infection as well as more natural supplements which break down plaque before it adheres to the teeth. This also helps to leave their breath highly kissable! Finally, at least once a week we recommend owners to take a peek inside their dogs’ mouths to make sure everything looks, and smells, healthy. See, taking care of your dog's mouth isn’t so hard after all!
(Information provided by pethealthnetwork.com)
The holiday season is upon us, and many pet parents plan to include their furry companions in the festivities. As you gear up for the holidays, it is important to try to keep your pet's eating and exercise habits as close to their normal routine as possible. Also, please be sure to steer pets clear of the following unhealthy treats, toxic plants and dangerous decorations.
-Be Careful with Seasonal Plants and Decorations:
9 Lessons I’ve Learned From Vet Techs!
Every year the veterinary profession honors its unsung heroes by celebrating National Veterinary Technician Week. Though we rely on them every day to do tons of our heavy lifting, we don’t often give them enough credit — not in public anyway. Appreciating them every third week in October is one of the many ways in which we express our gratitude for all they do.
In honor of their dedication and devotion here are 9 valuable lessons that one veterinarian learned from vet techs.
1. “Holding hands” (aka teaching). Despite the fact that we’re taught in school the best way to learn a procedure effectively is via mentorship (“watch one, do one, teach one”), once out in practice, we tend to think ourselves superior to the task and forget all about the importance of teaching.
Veterinary technicians never forget this. They know that a big part of their job involves training new staff members. We also know that the best techs are the best teachers. Given that reality, veterinarians should emulate our best and take on some of the teaching duties, too.
2. It’s OK to hug your clients. When first out of school, I felt it “unprofessional” to hug my clients. Expressing sympathy was best done with a few choice words. My techs, however, taught me that a well-timed hug is way better than words in certain instances. The hard part is getting the timing right.
3. It’s OK to cry. Nurses cry; doctors don’t. That fallacy has probably led to more pent-up stress than any other in medicine. Those who deal in life-and-death issues like we do should feel free to cry whenever they need to. Techs taught me that, too.
4. Never be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help is a critical skill, not least because you can’t easily keep learning without it. Veterinarians, however, sometimes forget this as soon as they leave school behind.
5. To err is human; to admit to it is part of being a great pet nurse. No one likes to admit she's wrong, but people with fancy degrees (doctors, especially) seem especially loath to cop to it. Veterinary technicians, however, seem to have been taught to check their egos at the door.
6. Fashion should take a back seat to comfort. I’ve spent the better part of my career bucking the comfortable clothing thing. As I see it, clogs are for little Dutch girls and sneakers for running. Why should I wear either of the two? Twenty years later, I’m willing to wear scrubs and sneaks, but only because vet techs finally brought me around to it.
7. Never ever let anyone see you’re having a bad day. As a breed, technicians tend to keep it together in front of patients, pet owners and co-workers, regardless of whether they’re having a crappy day or not. We should all take a page out of this book.
8. All those pockets are good for something. Fill them! One tech I know carries bandage scissors, hemostats, pens, writing pads, thermometers and even syringes in her scrubs. It’s like a clown car in those pockets! Would that I could be so thoroughly organized!
9. Patients are No. 1. Always. This is the best thing about veterinary technicians. They will always push back whenever they believe that what’s being asked of them is not in their patients’ best interest. The hierarchy for them is plain: Patients always come first. None of us should ever lose sight of that.
Happy National Veterinary Technician Week! And a big thank you to all the techs who helped me throughout the years.
(Information provided by Dr. Patty Khuly VMD at www.vetstreet.com)
With October right around the corner, Oronoque Animal Hospital begins its Senior Pet Health month in which we offer great discounts for our senior pets! Read below to get some helpful information on how to care for our senior family members as they get older.
The term “senior” has been chosen to describe aging/older pets. The number of years it takes for your dog to be considered “senior” may vary, and one must keep in mind that organ system, species, and breed of dog has an effect; in general a dog’s senior years begin between 6 and 13 years of age. (Find your dog on the age chart.)
The AVMA says that as a result of improved veterinary care and dietary habits, pets are living longer now than they ever have before. That means that dogs can be ‘seniors’ for a significant portion of their lives, leaving their guardians and veterinarians facing a whole new set of age-related conditions. In turn, developing good health habits for seniors is becoming even more important.
There are a number of things we can do to introduce healthy lifestyle habits to our dogs, and it’s never too late to start taking these steps. Pet health organizations like AAHA and the AVMA have already developed some great healthy guidelines for senior dogs, and I have my own tips to offer.
This is one very basic healthy habit to develop for the benefit of your dog, and particularly for a senior dog. You can hardly pick up a magazine without seeing an article urging you to live a healthier lifestyle. Sadly, the risks of obesity are too often overlooked in our canine friends. Recent data, available from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, shows almost 53% of dogs as overweight or obese. Obesity decreases a dog's life span, increases his risk for various cancers and metabolic diseases (like diabetes), and causes orthopedic complications—just to name a few of the possible consequences. Feed your dog a balanced diet containing high quality ingredients in amounts appropriate to maintain a good weight.
The habit of regular exercise will help maintain your dog’s weight and general health. Be reasonable in your expectations for intensity and duration of activity and consult your veterinarian. He knows your pet’s health and limitations, can help you design a safe exercise program and can also recommend medications, if appropriate, to allow your senior dog to exercise more comfortably. Non steroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) can be a great help in reducing discomfort, and other drugs or nutraceuticals may improve flexibility and mobility. However, ONLY use products that are recommended by your veterinarian, and only as prescribed. Some medications are very dangerous when combined.It may take more time and some coaxing to keep older pets active, but it is well worth the effort.
One very important habit to develop is regular veterinary care. Only about 14% of senior animals undergo regular health screening, as recommended by their veterinarians1. AAHA recommends health exams every 6 months for senior dogs. Early detection of disease is crucial; routine testing is important to establish baseline levels and “insure that there are no clinically silent health abnormalities.” In addition, your veterinarian is trained to evaluate your dog’s health and well-being and to make individualized recommendations to keep your senior dog healthy and active.
Increased attention to dental/oral care is even more important as your dog ages. Your veterinarian can advise you not only about any indication for dental cleanings in the clinic, but can also point out possible problem areas and instruct you regarding appropriate at home cleaning and care. Make a habit of good, routine oral hygiene. [Learn more about dental care for dogs here.]
According to CAPC, all dogs, regardless of age, need to be protected against parasites (fleas, ticks, heartworms, etc.). However, as your dog becomes older, changes in activity and lifestyle may affect his need for routine vaccinations against infectious diseases. That doesn’t mean he won’t need any vaccines. It just means that you and your veterinarian will need to have periodic discussions to determine what vaccines are still necessary and at what intervals they should be administered. You may also want to view the AAHA Canine Vaccination Guidelines.
Older dogs may have special grooming needs, particularly long haired dogs. Regular grooming is an excellent habit to get into. More idle time lying about and less activity can predispose seniors to more matting of hair and longer, unruly nails. Older, thinner skin can be more sensitive to irritation and more likely to be traumatized. Urinary incontinence can cause urine scalding. Excessive drooling can irritate facial folds. Increased grooming not only promotes healthier hair and skin, but it also creates an opportunity for visualizing and monitoring not only your dog’s skin but also overall body condition.
Undoubtedly the greatest need when caring for a senior dog is patience. As your dog ages, he may not see as well or hear as well. But old dogs are especially attuned to their masters - treasuring their presence and touch. Even when your old dog doesn’t respond physically to your touch, voice or presence, he needs your companionship and attention for mental health and emotional well-being. Without it, he will pine away.
In summary, be sensitive to any changes in your senior dog. Even subtle changes can be an indication of significant health issues. When in doubt, consult with your veterinarian and see your veterinarian at least every 6 months.
Call us today to schedule your senior's wellness checkup and to get our senior wellness discount during the month of October!
(Information provided by pethealthnetwork.com)
Jacks Galore received an email from a supporter, who had a friend in Connecticut begging her to seek help for a dog. A little Jack Russell mix who appeared to have been terribly injured, lay in pain and limbo at a vet’s office in Connecticut, where the decision had to be made to help heal or to let go. Reaching out to us and asking us for help to please save the life of his dog, we immediately contacted Dr. Sheldon Yessenow of the Oronoque Animal Hospital. This little girl was lucky to have been taken to this amazing vet clinic, and we got in touch to see if we could assist and possibly help save this dog’s life.
A man committed to his veterinary oath, Dr. Yessenow promised to work with us to do the best he could to make this little girl whole; he told us she was well worth the effort. At about four months of age, this small JRT mix was shown the worst side of people by most likely being slammed into something hard in order to kill her. But she survived; was found by the side of the road by two good Samaritans who immediately swooped her up and took her to the vet’s office. With a right rear leg broken in a very unfortunate way, and all her toes broken on every foot, this was not something that any vet or experienced surgeon wants to see.
In consultation the decision was made to go ahead and try to save the leg and to “fix” the toes. Dr. Yessenow consulted with several surgeons, and decided upon doing the surgery himself as timing was of the essence and healing needed to begin. Waking up in splints and a cast, this little jack girl continued to show nothing but sweetness and stoicism. From the minute she was in their care, and even though her pain must’ve been great, she always found a way to lick a human or to wag her tail. How could you give up on that? A short time passed and she was already walking with her splints and cast, and managing to find a way to run to anyone who called her to them. Then shortly thereafter splints and cast were removed and this little girl once again found the ability and desire to walk, albeit a wee bit unsteady, but still able to head towards anyone showing her some affection and encouragement.
Thrilled at the outcome, Jacks Galore is looking forward to her joining the rescue in order to find her that forever loving and secure home. We promised her that she will not be let down by humans again. She will have to endure one more surgery for spaying and then will be ready to come join us in Massachusetts. For now she seems to be walking amazingly well, and Jacks Galore plans on scheduling physical therapy for her, most likely in the pool, where she will be able to build strength. Our hope is that she will learn to walk as close to normal as possible. We do not know what her activity level will become as she heals, or what she will require in the future, but we will make sure that whatever it is she gets the benefit of enjoying her life that was given back to her by the remarkable Dr. Yessenow.
We tell you the story not only to let you know that rescue involves a lot more than taking dogs in from individuals who no longer can keep them, or shelters who call and ask to take a dog that they are unable to place, but it is also about saving lives, and attending to their veterinary needs if it means the dog is able to be rehomed and enjoy a quality life. When we posted this jack mix on Facebook, we did not yet have a name for her and many people sent in some delightful suggestions, all which we took into consideration. But then an adopter/foster of ours suggested it might be so nice to name this girl after the vet who put all the effort into saving her life. So we decided to name her Shelley.
Thank you Dr. Sheldon Yessenow for not only saving a life, but for your desire to work with us and being part of our rescue efforts. I can assure you that everyone is very grateful for what you have done, especially all of us here at Jacks Galore, but I’m sure none more so then Shelley herself. Please join us in our matching fundraiser campaign in order to help us pay for exactly this type of unexpected expense, and for allowing us to save more lives like Shelly’s.
(Information provided by http://www.jacksgalore.org/)
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