As our pets age, they continue to hold a very special place in our hearts. Senior pets require additional care to help them carry on long and fulfilling lives. It is important to be aware of the changes in our senior pets’ health and to provide them the care they deserve. Here are some ways to help care for your senior pet:
Regular Health Check-Ups
It is recommended that all pets receive annual physical exams to ensure that your pet is in good health. As our pets age, it is even more important that they receive regular health care. As with people, dogs experience a number of health changes as they age. Preventative care is key to keeping your senior pet happy and healthy. It is recommended that your senior pet receive a health examination every 6 months. During each exam, your veterinarian can monitor health and recommend changes to help keep your senior pet comfortable.
At Centreville Animal Hospital, we are pleased to provide the Senior Wellness Bloodwork Panel. This panel is a wonderful aide in keeping track of your senior pet’s health. This invaluable panel measures many important body systems, including organ values, red and white blood cells, and includes an urinalysis. All of these components can tell a lot about your pet’s health. If the levels are abnormal, it can be an indicator of cancers or diseases. If such diseases are detected early, medications or dietary changes can be made to help restore health.
Senior pets are susceptible to discomfort changes such as arthritis. Sometimes your senior pet may seem stiff while getting up or moving around. This is certainly uncomfortable and can easily be managed by administering pain medication at home. A simple, daily dose can greatly impact your pet’s comfort. At Centreville Animal Hospital, we perform a pain assessment during your pet’s physical examination. By determining your pet’s level of pain, your doctor can provide recommendations for keeping your pet comfortable.
Keeping Comfortable with Rehabilitation
With aging joints and limbs, your senior pet could greatly benefit from rehabilitation exercises. After a consultation with your veterinarian, she can customize a plan that will allow you to perform exercises during rehabilitation appointments and at home. Keeping your senior pet active is very important as it will help maintain muscle mass and more comfortable movements. Acupuncture is a method of rehabilitation that involves applying very small needles to certain points of the body. This provide relief for a wide range of conditions, including relieving discomfort. Acupuncture is a painless, natural method that has been very effective for both pets and humans.
Recognizing Nutritional Needs
Your pet’s nutritional needs are important to help sustain health. What your pet consumes can greatly impact his overall health. By referring to the Senior Wellness Bloodwork Panel results, modifying and supplementing your senior pet’s diet can greatly impact the necessary vitamins and minerals your pet may be lacking as he ages. There are several prescription diets that are designed to help treat certain diseases and others for general senior care.
By recognizing changes in your pet’s health as he ages, these preventative and treatment methods will greatly impact your senior pet’s health and comfort. As pet owners, we want nothing but the best for our furry companions, and Centreville Animal Hospital is committed to providing you with options that will offer a better quality of life.
During the Winter months it’s easy to feel tired and a little blue because it’s so cold and the sun isn’t out as much. While we may be able to cope with the cold, our dogs have to rely on us to get them up and moving! There are plenty of indoor activities and remedies for the winter blues associated with the season. From doggie daycare to trick training sessions, rest-assured that your dog (and you) will keep yourselves active!
Brave the cold- take a nice walk outside!
A good amount of dogs will enjoy a nice walk in chilly weather. Although, please remember that the sidewalks are treated with salt and/or chemicals to help prevent any ice from forming, which can be harmful to your dog. Try booties to keep their paws safe, or rinse them off once you get home to stop irritation and keep them from ingesting any chemicals that may have been left behind. Lastly, if your dog has a short or thin coat of hair, consider having them wear a jacket or sweater.
Make meal time exciting!
There are many ways to stimulate your dog’s body and mind without having to venture out into the cold weather. You can try presenting the meals in a feeding toy instead of the usual food bowl. Studies have shown that dogs will enjoy their food more when they have to work for it. This will also help your dog eat slower, which improves digestion and nutrient absorption, and helps prevent some serious gastrointestinal conditions such as tummy aches, and bloat in larger dogs.
Giving treats can be exciting, too!
There are two easy ways to make giving your dog a treat more interesting: First, try using a treat-dispensing toy, similar to the one you would use for his meal time. Secondly, play a game of hide-and-seek. Keep your dog in one room while you hide treats in another. Then let him loose to find all the hidden treasures you’ve left! Make sure the treats are fairly obvious to find at first so he understands the game. The more he understands, the more difficult hiding places you can add.
Work on new tricks inside!
There are endless amounts of tricks and training exercises you can do from the comfort of your own home. Start with simple dog tricks such as “stay,” “shake,” or “sit,” and slowly work up to something more complex like “roll over.” These tricks will result in well-mannered behavior and help you bond with your dog. Tip: try to keep the dog training/trick sessions to about 15 minutes. This will help keep your dog’s attention, which will make sure everyone has a good time.
Consider day boarding!
If your job requires you to be out of the house for more than eight hours a day, or you can’t head home to let your dog out, Doggie Daycare would be a great option! Here at Centreville Animal Hospital, we offer excellent day boarding options. Your dog will be catered to and taken care of with the same love and attention we give to our own pets. With group or individual playtimes for at least an hour, and a minimum of four walks a day, you can be assured that your dog will be very active! And to give you peace of mind, we also send out daily photo updates to let you see just how happy your dog is! Plus, we have an indoor playroom for those cold, snowy days, and a treadmill, for those pups that need a little extra activity.
Last, but not least- Stay Attentive!
While it’s good to keep your dog healthy and in shape, make sure to keep a close eye on them during Winter. Changes in your dogs daily routine because of the season may lead to weight gain or loss, so keep a close eye on their body conditions and talk to your veterinary care provider if you have any questions or concerns.
Stay active, and warm this Winter!
Hill’s Pet: www.hillspet.com/en/us/dog-care/play-exercise/keeping-dogs-active-in-winter
Lillian Forney, Boarding Attendant
Maintaining your pet’s weight is very important so that they can live a longer, healthy, and happy life. Without proper weight management your furry friends run the risk of possibly developing diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, lung disorders, high blood pressure, immune dysfunction, and cancerous tumors. Here we’ve listed a few tips to help keep your pets happy and healthy by maintaining their weight!
Much like some of us, our pets will eat when they’re bored. Refraining from giving them 24/7 access to their food is always a good start. Keeping that in mind, it’s also a good idea to talk with your veterinarian so you know just how much to feed and what type of food would be best for your pet. It is also highly recommended to not feed them any table scraps. We all know it can be difficult to tell them no when they give you that look, but stay strong!
Exercise is very important for any pet. At least 30 minutes a day of active play will reduce the risk of weight gain and help them lose weight. Not only does exercise help maintain your pets weight it also has great health benefits that include, reducing the risk of heart disease, digestive issues, and the chances of urinary tract infections. If your furry friend is more active they also have less of a chance of developing depression, which means a longer, happier life span.
It might be a strange thing to consider, but keeping track of your pet’s calorie intake is actually a very huge help! Unfortunately, a lot of people forget to include treats in their counting. A lot of treats are high in calories so it is very important to factor those in and adjust your pet’s food intake accordingly so that they receive the correct amount of calories.
Having a set schedule for when your pet eats and exercises will not only be helpful for you, but will also benefit your pet greatly. Make sure you feed your pet at the same time, in the same place every day to help establish healthy eating habits.
AAHA Weight Management Guidelines for Cats and Dogs– https://www.aaha.org/public_documents/professional/guidelines/weight_management_guidelines.pdf
ASPCA Dog Nutrition Tips– https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/dog-care/dog-nutrition-tips
ASCPA Cat Nutrition Tips– https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/cat-nutrition-tips
AVMA 7 Things to do to Keep your Pet Healthy– https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/pet-health.aspx
OK, so how many of us have losing weight at the top of our list of New Year’s resolutions? We know that being overweight is not good for us, and the same holds true for our pets. But many owners think their pet’s excessive weight is not a serious issue that needs addressing. Some people even consider an obese pet cute or funny. But the truth is, pet obesity can be very serious and cause life-threatening illness. It can also make everyday activities—such as playing, going up and down stairs, even going to the bathroom—difficult and stressful. That is not fun for your pet or you!
How Bad Is the Problem?
Unfortunately, the statistics for obesity in people in America (about 50%) are the same for our pets. More than half of all pets in the United States are overweight or obese.
52.5% (36.7 million) — Overweight/Obese Dogs
58.3% (43.2 million) — Overweight/Obese Cats
Not Just Cosmetic–A Medical Issue
Weight loss should be treated as a medical issue. Even one extra pound of weight can make a very significant difference for a dog or cat. Think of it this way:
10% weight increase in weight
10-pound dog = 1 pound
100-pound person = 10 pounds
The health effects of obesity sometimes go untreated because symptoms may be subtle, or they may be harder to detect because of the presence of excess fat. Weight-related illness can include the following:
- Heart disease
- Reduced lifespan
- Knee problems (ruptured ligaments)
- Labored or difficult breathing
- Greater risk for heatstroke
- Joint problems
- Skin and urinary tract infections (UTIs)
Helping your pet lose a few unwanted pounds is a great New Year’s resolution for 2014. Doing so can reduce the risk of weight-related ailments and can save your pet from having to undergo more serious or costly treatments once an issue has been identified. And wouldn’t it make it easier if both of you are tackling this issue together?
Determining Healthy Weight in Pets
Beyond identifying the obvious visual signs we can all recognize—such as excess fat and decreased mobility—one way veterinarians diagnose obesity is by using a Body Conditioning Score (BCS). An ideal BCS is a score between 4 and 9. Every increment in score increase above 5 equals approximately 10% of excess weight.
BCS is based on a combination of anatomical measurements (using a tape measure) and a veterinarian’s assessment through a physical exam, taking into account the specific condition of the patient. A dog can be slightly overweight or have a little extra padding (score of 5-6) and easily lose weight by adjusting diet and exercise, but animals carrying more excess weight (a BCS score of 7-9) may require more than just a diet adjustment.
A tool you can use to estimate your pet’s healthy weight is the Hill’s Healthy Weight Protocol online calculator (Hillsvet.com), which is part of the weight-management program developed by Hills Pet Nutrition, Inc. Also, take a look at the body condition charts Purina has created to see how BCS scores are applied to cats and dogs with different body weights (see below).
Download the Purina cat body condition chart: http://www.purinaveterinarydiets.com/HealthIssues/getresource.axd?category=content&id=1346
Download the Purina dog body condition chart:
Dietary Options for Overweight Pets
Rapid weight-loss by over-exercising or a large reduction in food can be just as detrimental to your pet as being overweight or obese. The best way to achieve weight loss is through a combination of exercise and diet. A metabolic weight management diet—an eating plan designed to work with your pet’s own metabolism—is recommended for both dogs and cats. The specific diet that is best for your pet will be determined by your veterinarian based on the BCS and guidelines for the breed, age, and healthy target weight of your pet.
There are several food options available that have proven very effective for weight loss in pets. The program we recommend for patients who need to lose weight is the Hills line, which includes Hills Prescription Diet R/D, Hills Prescription Diet W/D, and the new Hills Prescription Diet Metabolic Advanced Weight Solution. This weight loss and maintenance nutrition program—dry food, canned food, and treats—has been proven to safely provide 28% body fat loss in only 2 months. It works to control hunger, helping to keep dogs feeling full and satisfied between meals. The system includes maintenance options to helps prevent weight gain. And the company offers a 100% refund guarantee.
As the new year begins, now is a great time to commit to improving your pet’s health, as well as your own. If your pet is carrying extra weight we can develop a plan that will safely address his or her exercise and diet needs, as well as diagnose and treat any health issues that may be present. There is no time like the present!
Body Conditioning Score (BCS)