One of the beautiful things about our pets is that we continue to find new reasons to love them, no matter their age. Even though our pets tend to slow down as they enter their golden years, they still have an immense amount of love to share. If you’ve had one of those moments where you realized your dog was getting a little gray around the muzzle or your cat has used several of their nine lives, you likely want to make some changes to your pet’s routine care to fit their changing needs. What does your senior pet wish they could tell you?

“As I Age, I Become More Vulnerable to Health Issues”

One of the most difficult realities of senior pets is that they are more prone to developing health problems. To make the matter even more serious, they’re also more fragile when it comes to these health issues. This is why you should increase your pet’s veterinary visits to at least twice per year.

Luckily, there are many ways we can work together to provide your pet with the best life despite their aging issues. Early diagnosis is key to preventing a minor problem from becoming a major concern. Catching problems early protects your pet’s quality of life and lifespan.

What are the most common issues you should watch for?

Cancer 

Cancer is the most common disease to take the lives of pets over the age of ten. About 50% of senior pets will develop cancer. 

Cancer is not a life sentence for many pets, though. Many forms of cancer can be treated. From surgery to immunotherapy, there are ways to prevent the spread and progression of cancer and stop it in its tracks.

Some forms of cancers can even be prevented. Having your pet spayed or neutered is the first step.

You can also vaccinate your cat and keep your pet’s weight under control.

Additionally, a healthy diet can make a world of difference.

Detecting Issues:

Watch for changes in your pet’s bathroom habits. If you notice any lumps and bumps, especially those around the mouth and jaw, bring your pet in to see us. Sores that do not heal also need immediate attention.

Dementia

Memory loss and dementia are not unique to people--our pets struggle with them, too. Watch for signs that your pet’s cognitive ability is in decline. You may notice a change in routine, your pet acting confused or lost, or vocalizing at odd times.

Arthritis and Joint Issues

Does your pet take a few extras moments to stretch when getting up? Older pets tend to suffer from joint deterioration and other mobility issues. If you notice your pet is a little stiff after a nap or slow to climb stairs, they may be in pain.

Joint supplements can help your pet rebuild cartilage and lubricate their joints. Most supplements also contain glucosamine and chondroitin which have anti-inflammatory properties to reduce joint pain.

We can also help manage chronic or acute pain.

“I still enjoy walks and playtime.”

Keeping your pet moving can prevent injuries from slips, falls, strains, sprains, and breaks. Staying active helps pets maintain their muscle tone and balance. Playtime also provides your pet with much-needed mental stimulation, which keeps them sharp, can slow dementia, and lessens anxiety and depression.

“My nutritional needs have changed.”

Older pets experience a slowing in metabolism. This means they need fewer calories, but still need a diet rich in vitamins, minerals, and fatty acids. Senior pets also benefit from diets tailored to their health needs. From urinary tract health to weight control, we can help you find the right diet for your beloved pet.

If you notice your pet is itchier or struggling with digestion, a change in diet may help. Make an appointment if you have questions about your pet’s nutritional needs.

“I Would Love New Comfort Items.”

Our pets do not ask for much. They may beg for treats here and there, but they don’t know how to ask for other items like a new bed or stairs to help get into bed. So, what would they ask for if they could?

  • A warm sweater or comfy coat for walks
  • An orthopedic pet bed
  • Joint support supplements
  • Stairs or a ramp to make getting to their favorite spots easier.
  • Rugs for slippery surfaces
  • A litter box with lower walls

Does Your Senior Pet Deserve the Best?

Of course they do! If you’re looking for the best, give your pet the gift of health at Battletown Animal Hospital. We have a special place in our hearts for senior pets. You can trust that your pet will receive all of our attention and the necessary tests to give you peace of mind and detect any hidden illnesses.

Don’t delay your pet’s appointment. There are too many fun activities awaiting your senior pet. We’re here all winter, so give us a call.

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Just like us, senior pets feel more aches, pains, and changes in mood when winter arrives. Don’t let your senior pet get ‘left out in the cold’ when it comes to comfort as temperatures drop. There are some easy ways to help your older pet adjust to winter weather. If you’re ready to warm up to some winter-ready ways to keep your pet cozy and active all winter long, we’re ready to share our top tips for winter-readiness for senior pets.

1. Help Keep Your Senior Pet Warm All Winter

As pets get older, their bodies have a more difficult time maintaining body heat. This makes them feel colder both indoors and outside. If you notice your pet shivering, shaking, sleeping tight curled up, or ‘nesting’ down into blankets, your pet may be having a hard time staying warm.

To help your pet stay warm during the winter months, you will want to:

  • Provide a warm bed. Senior pets often benefit most from orthopedic beds.
  • Dress your pet in a sweater, coat, and/or boots for winter walks
  • Check the location of your pet’s bed to be sure it’s not in a drafty area of the house.
  • Give your pet a few extra blankets to curl into.

2. Keep Walking and Playing with Your Pet

Just because it’s cold out doesn’t mean you should discontinue walks. In fact, winter walks are necessary for senior pets to maintain muscle tone and joint health. Additionally, walking and playing will elevate your pet’s heart rate to keep the pitter-patter of your pet’s most vital organ.

Getting outside for short stints provides pets with a bit of extra mental stimulation to combat the winter blues. This can also lessen the progression of dementia and depression.

Don’t skip playing with your cat either. Play and exercise are equally important for our feline companions as for dogs.

Remember that visibility while walking in winter is important. As roads become icy, you want drivers to see you and your pet well in advance.

3. Don’t Let Your Pet Slip, Trip, or Fall

Slippery, icy surfaces are one of the most common hazards for pets in wintertime. To increase traction and prevent your pet’s paws from sliding out from under them:

  • Put down some extra rugs and runners--these also keep their toes toasty-warm.
  • Boots on walks can increase traction. Toe grips or “toe treads” work well for dogs with weakened hips or hind legs.
  • Put in pet stairs and ramps to help your pet get to their favorite spots without overly extending their joints or overly exerting their muscles.

 

4. Adding Joint and Coat Supplements

Because winter is rough on the joints and much drier than other seasons, most senior pets benefit from supplements to support their coats and joints. Supplements with glucosamine and chondroitin are great for maintaining joint health and reducing joint pain. For healthy skin and a shiny coat, look for supplements with Omega 3 and 6. Treats and a diet with fish containing high levels of Omegas can provide your pet with fatty acids to keep their skin and coat healthy.

5. Keep Your Pet Winter-Ready with a Check-Up

It can be difficult to pinpoint what individual pets need without an exam. We recommend that senior pets come in twice per year. This can help us detect illnesses and issues like diabetes or heart issues early, and these issues can make winter more difficult for pets.

We will tailor your pet’s winter care to their needs and health history. We can also address chronic pain or long-term joint pain for the best winter your pet can have.

Wishing You and your Pets a Warm and Wonderful Winter

As winter arrives and temperatures drop, we hope you and your family stay safe. Consider stocking up on supplies for your pet in case of COVID-19 and enjoy the beauty of winter here in Berryville. In the meantime, if there is anything we can do for your pet this winter, please make an appointment to see us! We’re here to support your pet’s health for their best life all winter long.

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November is Pet Diabetes Month--a time dedicated to better understanding this disease and educating pet owners on the signs and symptoms. Why does diabetes matter so much? When it comes to your pets, it doesn’t discriminate. Diabetes can affect pets of all species, ages, and sizes. Knowing what to look for can be the difference between helping your pet manage the disease and possible death.

1. Pets of All Shapes and Sizes Can Develop Diabetes

Genetics is the strongest factor in whether or not a pet becomes diabetic. Some breeds and species simply have a greater likelihood of becoming diabetic. This disease isn’t a sign of poor pet parenting, it’s often just the genetic lottery. This is to say that two cats with similar weight, diet, and activity level do not share the same likelihood of becoming diabetic. One may and the other may not.

There are some breeds that have higher rates of diabetes, though. These include Dachshunds, Cocker Spaniels, Dobermans, German Shepherds, Retrievers, Labs, and Pomeranians. Even if you don’t own one of these breeds, you will still want to pay close attention to your dog for signs and symptoms of diabetes.

So, are there other factors that play into whether or not a pet is at high risk for diabetes? Yes. Because diabetes is a disease related to insulin uptake, pets with the following preconditions have a higher disposition for diabetes:

  • Excess weight
  • Lack of exercise
  • Staying indoors, not going on walks
  • A history of pancreatitis or hyperthyroidism

2. The Signs of Diabetes Aren’t Always Obvious

Unless you’re looking for them, the signs of diabetes can go unnoticed. For example, one of the most common symptoms of diabetes is excessive thirst. Many pet parents may just think their pet is drinking more, and don’t consider that their pet may have a medical condition. Other signs include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Decreased or increased appetite
  • Sudden weight loss
  • Milky or cloudy eyes
  • Recurring skin or urinary infections
  • Weakness
  • Lethargy

Schedule an appointment to bring your pet if you notice your pet exhibiting these signs. All it takes is some simple blood tests and we can determine if your pet is or is not diabetic, and begin your pet on a management plan.

3. Diabetes Can Often Be Prevented in Cats

Often diabetes in felines can be prevented before it becomes permanent. Helping your cat slim down or keeping your kitty trim is the first step in diabetes prevention. This change doesn’t have to be difficult for you or your cat. Using a weight management food and measuring your kitty’s portions is simple. The next step is actually quite fun: provide your cat with more exercise opportunities. Engage your cat in play. Invest in some new toys, catnip, and even a laser pointer.

4. Early Diagnosis Makes a Difference

Living with untreated diabetes can be miserable for your pet. The longer your pet goes undiagnosed, the more difficult it can be to treat the disease. If you suspect your pet has any of the signs of diabetes, it’s important to have her checked. Too often pet parents wait until the problem becomes an emergency and their dog or cat is ketonic. When a pet gets to that point, he or she can lose their life, immediate care can be costly, and pets frequently have to stay with us much longer.

Cats can go into remission after about 3 to 6 months and dogs can be stabilized more quickly.

5. Diabetic Pets Can Live Long Healthy Lives

If your pet is diabetic, we can begin your pet on an insulin routine immediately. We are happy to support you through the process of learning to administer insulin and provide for your pet’s needs. Additionally, we can talk to you about warning signs that your pet is experiencing an insulin overdose or a ketogenic relapse.

We’re Here to Help You and Your Precious Pet

If you’re unsure of your pet’s health status or you suspect she may have diabetes, we are here to provide you with answers. We can diagnose your pet before the holiday celebrations and the arrival of your pet sitter. We want your pet to feel her best each and every day. So, don’t delay. Make your appointment today.

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While we often think of cancer as a very human disease, this fatal affliction also affects pets. In fact, cancer continues to be the leading cause of death for pets across the U.S. Since November is National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we wanted to share with you all the facts we wish every pet parent knew about this often fatal disease.

How Many Pets Are Affected By Cancer?

We would love to reduce the number of pets that lose their lives to cancer. Unfortunately, many pet parents continue to think that the ‘big-C’ can’t happen to their pet. When it comes to which pets get cancer and which do not, knowing your pet’s likelihood can help you become more vigilant in noticing the signs.

  • 1 out of 4 dogs will develop tumors
  • 1 out of 2 dogs over ten will develop cancer
  • 1 out of 5 cats will develop cancer
  • Cats are more prone to lymphoma than dogs 
  • Cats are often better at hiding the signs that they are ill, often going longer without detection.

Can Your Pet Avoid Becoming a Victim of Cancer?

There is no way to predict which pets will get cancer. There are things you can do, though, to reduce the deadliness of the disease should your pet develop a tumor or tumors.

The two most effective ways you can prevent cancer from stealing your pet’s life are to

  1. Maintain annual exams (bi-annual for senior pets) 
  2. Recognize the warning signs of cancer before it grows or spreads

Early diagnosis during your pet’s annual exam can be the difference between treatment and death. Knowing when to bring in your pet outside of that annual exam is equally important.

Enough doom and gloom--you can make a difference for your pet by recognizing these signs:

  • Lack of appetite or decrease in appetite
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • A sudden drop in weight
  • Intense thirst and an increase in drinking
  • Frequent urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to partake in physical activities
  • Trouble moving about and stiffness
  • Evidence of blood from the mouth or bottom
  • Difficulty doing their business
  • Labored breathing
  • Masses near the mouth or jawline
  • Swelling or firmness
  • New lumps and bumps that grow rapidly or seem painful

Can Pet Cancer Be Treated?

Most types of cancer can be successfully treated when diagnosed early. Malignant tumors may require surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy. When it comes to treating cancer, our approach depends on your pet’s health history as well as the type of cancer, its location, and the severity.

Sometimes we hear pet parents say that they feel silly bringing their pet in because of bumps and lumps or unusual symptoms. Do not feel this way. If you are worried about a change in your pet’s physical health or behavior, do not hesitate to make an appointment. It is always appropriate to ask questions about your pet’s health. We are here to provide you with peace of mind, answer your questions, and provide the best care should the need arise.

What If My Pet’s Cancer Cannot be Treated?

As veterinary professionals, we can say that you never truly get over how heartbreaking cancer can be, especially when it’s untreatable. When cancer is unresponsive to treatment or is too far progressed, we can provide you and your pet with the solace of effective pain management.  We can also guide you to assist your pet so she can live out her remaining time in comfort.

Know the Signs, Save Your Pet

In honor of National Pet Cancer Awareness Month, we urge you to take notice of your pet’s health. If your pet has exhibited a recent change in weight or appetite, we recommend making an appointment. Together we can lower the number of pets cancer takes each year.

Is your pet in need of her annual exam? Make an appointment today.

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Imagining a beloved companion suffering in pain is a pet parent’s worst nightmare. A sudden whine or whimper can stop you in your tracks. We are responsible for our pet’s health and happiness, after all. If you’ve ever wondered if your pet is experiencing pain, wonder no more.

The first step in understanding your pet’s discomfort is recognizing the different types of pain. We typically categorize pain into acute (or sharp) pain and chronic (long-lasting and persistent) pain.

Acute Pain in Pets

When your pet experiences acute pain, you’ll likely know right away. This type of pain is usually the result of a significant event, like a car accident or a fight with another animal. Your pet may cry or shriek and will try to get away from the source of the pain. After retreating, you may see your pet licking the area of the injury, limping, or bleeding. Any of these signs of trauma require professional medical attention as soon as possible.

Some pain, like a bee sting or thorn prick, is less severe and can be short-lived. (Though your pet may still be very dramatic about it!) Check the area your pet is attending to for evidence of what is causing discomfort. For something like a thorn, use tweezers to remove it and keep your pet from itching or chewing the area. Bee stings are similarly easy to recover from, though they may cause anaphylactic shock in pets with allergies. If you’re unsure if the injury requires a vet visit, err on the side of caution and give us a call.

Chronic Pain in Pets

Chronic pain can be challenging to detect since the symptoms are usually not as conspicuous. While a dog with chronic joint pain may cry out when jumping off the sofa or getting up from their bed, for the most part, the signs of long-term conditions are more subtle.

Chronic pain can be related to dental discomfort, allergies, damaged joints, and more. Left untreated, these underlying conditions can cause significant and irreparable harm to your pet’s physical health. Long-term, unrelenting pain takes a toll on your pet’s mental wellbeing, as well.

What Are the Signs of Chronic Pain in Pets?

Symptoms of a pet experiencing chronic pain include limping, moving slowly and irregularly, and having trouble standing up or lying down. They may display uncharacteristic behaviors like short tempers and aggression or have inexplicable accidents in the house. You may see changes in energy levels, like sleeping more than usual, and less enthusiasm for activities like long walks or time in the backyard.

A pet in pain may also:

  • Lose interest in food
  • Hesitate when walking across slippery surfaces
  • Vocalize without an obvious cause
  • Stop grooming regularly
  • React when being pet on some regions of their body

How to Relieve Your Pet’s Pain

Pain does not have to be permanent for your pet. There are ways to reduce and manage their symptoms so that they can continue a happy life with your family.

If you recognize any signs of acute or chronic pain in your pet, make an appointment today. We’ll help you find the right solution for your favorite companion. Some pain can be managed by making lifestyle changes to reduce the stress on your pet’s joints, like adding ramps or stairs to their favorite couches and beds. More significant discomfort can be addressed with supplements, medications, or surgery. If your pet’s pain is an indication of an underlying injury or disease, our veterinarians can diagnose and treat the condition for lasting relief.

As your partner in managing your pet’s wellness, we’re always happy to help. Give us a call today and be confident your pet is living a life free of pain.

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