Why Your Special Senior Pet Needs More Veterinary Exams 

Your sweet senior pet may be as energetic as a youngster, but changes in their physiology and overall well-being are definite. Your pet also may have developed  certain conditions that can come on later in life that need additional care. No matter what level of health and vitality your older pet is in, a senior pet needs more veterinary care than their younger counterparts. 

There are several factors that lead to this, but the goal is always to keep your pet at their best and healthiest as they age. The team at Animal Medical Hospital & 24-Hour Urgent Care is here to tell you all about senior pet care and how to provide loving TLC for your aging furry friend. for your furry friend.

Age Is Not a Disease

Many people assume that old age in pets just means that they will naturally develop diseases, but this is not always the case. 

In fact, many diseases that do come with aging can be prevented through lifestyle changes and early detection. That is why veterinary care is of the utmost importance when your pet is over the age of 7-8 years (sometimes older or younger depending on your pet’s breed and size).

Why Does My Older Pet Need More Veterinary Visits?

The reasons for this is that certain conditions emerge over time, through aging or through wear and tear (such as the case with arthritis and other mobility issues). The reason behind the increase is visits is to promote early detection. Through these visits, we can assess the state of health of organs that are prone to deteriorate or become affected with the passing of time, such as the kidneys, bones, heart, and teeth

There are also many diseases that can be reversed, such as diabetes in cats. These twice-annual visits allow us to get a closer look into your pet’s health by performing routine blood work and other diagnostic testing. It’s also a wonderful time for you to ask questions about senior care at home. This includes addressing issues with respect to nutrition, exercise, lifestyle, and so on.

What Is Senior Pet Wellness?

Our senior pet wellness examinations focus on the holistic rather than the routine. Each visit is personalized to your pet as to spend more time focused on their particular needs and well-being. 

Most senior pet wellness visits, however, will include some or all of the following:

  • Thorough head-to-tail examination
  • Blood work to check thyroid function, complete blood count, kidney function, liver enzymes, electrolytes, and blood sugar levels
  • Diagnostic testing that might include X-ray, EKG, and ultrasound
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Dental exam and cleaning
  • Cognitive function assessment
  • Ear and eye examination

We will make sure that when you leave, you will feel like your questions are answered and you better understand how to keep your loveable “oldie” as healthy as they can be.

More Questions About Senior Pet Wellness?

Our experienced, compassionate team is available for you and your four-legged friend. We want to be your partner in excellent veterinary care and want your pet to thrive throughout their senior and geriatric years.

If you have additional questions about senior pet wellness, or would like to call us for an appointment, do not hesitate to email or pick up the phone.

Top 10 Ways To Keep Pets Healthy

On the surface, it may seem easy to keep pets healthy. But, like most things in life, there’s usually more to how our pets are feeling than what meets the eye. 

Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care cares about you and your pet, and we’re here to help. Our 10 tips will keep you keep your pets healthy and happy for the long haul!

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Welcome Home! Preparing for a New Pet 

There are few things more exciting in life than welcoming a new being into your home, be it two-legged or four. 

While bringing home two-legged babies is outside of our level of expertise at Animal Medical Hospital, we have all of the best tips for bringing home a furry one! Read on to be sure that you know all the latest information when preparing for a new pet.

Preparing for a New Pet

When preparing for a new pet, prep work is the key to success. There is so much to do before you even bring the new critter into the mix, such as:

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High Pressure: Glaucoma in Dogs

It’s hard to look into your pet’s eyes and not see the pure love and admiration that they have for us, their people. That might be why it is so heartbreaking when our pet patients are suffering from eye problems.

Glaucoma in dogs is a relatively common diagnosis and one that can result in the loss of vision and even the eye itself if not addressed. Animal Medical Hospital & 24-Hour Urgent Care Center knows how important your pet’s eyes are and is there to help in the event of glaucoma in dogs as well as other animal eye problems

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Looking for an Old Friend? It May Be Time to Adopt a Senior Pet

While every life stage has its own unique advantages, a pet’s golden years are likely to be some of the best. They graduated from housebreaking long ago, they know exactly what makes them happy and comfortable, and they provide a calming, supportive presence to any household lucky enough to have them. 

There are loads of other reasons to adopt a senior pet, and your friends at Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care have a few we can share from experience.

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What to Make of Lumps and Bumps on Your Pet’s Skin

When you find something abnormal on your beloved pet, it can be an anxiety-ridden moment. Is that a tick? A wart? Cancer? Or was it always there?

When it comes to lumps and bumps on your pet’s skin, Animal Medical Hospital & 24 Hour Urgent Care doesn’t expect you to have all the answers, that’s why we’re here!  

You can rely on us to help you know when to call us, when to relax, and what to do when it comes to pet lumps and bumps.

The Possibilities are Endless

There are many causes of lumps and bumps on the skin. We commonly see lesions caused by:

  • Bacterial infections
  • Parasites
  • Granuloma formation (reaction to foreign objects)
  • Abscesses
  • Benign tumors like warts and lipomas (fatty growths)
  • Cysts
  • Neoplasia

Even to the trained eye of our veterinary staff, it isn’t always possible to know which it might be just by looking.

When we see a pet with a new lump or bump, the affected area is assessed for location, size, shape, and physical characteristics. This helps to determine the most likely diagnosis and record the spot in the medical record.

Many times a test called a fine needle aspirate (FNA) will be recommended. In this procedure a small needle is introduced into the lump or bump to obtain a microscopic sample of cells in the area. This can help us to identify infection, inflammation, and may even reveal cancerous cells.

A FNA only yields a small, focal sample however, so it does not always give us an exact answer, nor can it rule out cancer entirely. A surgical biopsy (histopathology) is often recommended if a lump or bump is worrisome based on characteristics or FNA. Sometimes surgical excision and biopsy is warranted for seemingly benign growths as well due to excessive size or location in an irritating or cumbersome area.

Histopathology helps to give us more information about what the growth was, if it is likely to come back, if it was all successfully removed, and what other treatments might be needed. It can also help to give a more accurate prognosis.

Lumps and Bumps and When to Worry

It can be very hard to know which lumps and bumps are ominous and which are harmless, even to a trained eye. Of course, if you rushed your pet in for every tiny blemish, we would be seeing a lot of you. So when do you need to get your pet in and when can it wait?

We recommend examining your pet as soon as possible if:

  • The lesion is growing, changing, or spreading
  • The lump/bump is painful or firm
  • The skin is red or irritated
  • The bumps if bleeding or has discharge
  • Your pet has a history of cancer
  • Your pet is a high-risk breed (short coated breeds such as boxers, pugs, and pit bulls are prone to skin cancer)

It is never wrong for us to examine a new lump or bump. While they are not all an emergency, they all should be looked at in a timely fashion. Some seemingly innocuous growths can be serious, and when it comes to cancer time is essential.

Give us a call to make an appointment if you have any doubts at all about whether something should wait. No matter what the lump or bump turns out to be, acting quickly often helps us to deliver the best prognosis and get your pet back to normal as soon as possible.

Worst Day Ever: Helping Kids Cope with Pet Loss

Children have the capacity to feel things very deeply. When they’re joyful, it’s as if there’s a bottomless well of goodness. When they’re scared, their fear can be all-consuming. But when they’re heart-broken over the death of a pet, it can feel like the end of the world.

Without a doubt, kids form very strong attachments to family pets, and this is often their first experience with death. Understandably, they’ll require lots of help dealing with pet loss and moving through the stages of grief.

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Lifetime Health With Routine Pet Wellness Exams

pet wellness examsThe needs of a bouncy, playful, young animal are very different from an aging one, right? That’s why there are age-appropriate food options and developmentally-appropriate activities. Similarly, pet wellness exams are designed to follow – and support – an animal’s path throughout life. Their aim is to cover all relevant topics at hand, prevent disease, and nurture lifelong health and wellbeing.

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Why Does My Pet Need Senior Wellness Bloodwork?

The Importance of Senior Wellness Bloodwork

 One of the most frequent questions I receive from pet owners is “Doc, why does my dog need bloodwork?  We just did that last year and everything was normal.”  Senior Wellness Bloodwork semi-annually in our pets is an important part of their physical exam.  Animals age much more rapidly than humans, and dramatic changes to bloodwork values can happen in a short period of time.

Senior Wellness Bloodwork allows us to screen for numerous diseases and begin treating them before our pets become ill or debilitated.

Often times our owners do not recognize that the signs their pet is having could be indicative of disease.  Changes in thirst, urination, appetite, activity, coat quality, weight, or mobility could all be early indicators of potentially serious diseases that often go undiagnosed until pets are ill.  An up to date blood panel can also aid your veterinarian in selecting which medications are safest for your pet to use.

What is included in Senior Wellness bloodwork?

  1. A CBC (complete blood count)
    • The CBC evaluates red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Red cell, white cell, and platelet counts can change very rapidly over a period of hours.  Often veterinarians will evaluate the CBC daily in critically ill patients.
      • Red blood cells carry hemoglobin and are responsible for delivery of oxygen to the tissues of the body.
      • White blood cells are an important component of the immune system and are the first line of defenseagainst infections.
      • Platelets are important for allowing the blood to clot normally in response to injuries.
  2. A blood chemistry
    • Provides information on numerous organ systems in the body such as the liver, GI tract, kidneys, and immune system.
      • The liver has several enzymes which can indicate dysfunction such as the Alanine transaminase (ALT), Alkaline Phosphatase (ALKP).  These values can also be affected by toxins and certain medications your pets may take.  Many pets on arthritis medications or seizure medications will have mild liver enzyme elevations that are important to monitor over time.
      • The kidney is assessed by Blood Urea Nitrogen (BUN) and Creatinine (Crea).  Elevations in these enzymes can indicate dehydration, urinary disease, or kidney dysfunction.  Kidney disease is the number one systemic disease in elderly cats with almost all geriatric cats developing some degree of kidney disease in their lifetime.
  3. Senior Boston TerrierScreening the urine
    • It is important to assess urine concentration.  Low urine concentration can be the very first sign of kidney dysfunction.  The urine can also help indicate diseases such as diabetes and Cushing’s disease which are common in the aging pet population.
  4. T4
    • Assessing the T4, allows your veterinarian to evaluate the thyroid.
      • Elderly cats frequently will have elevated thyroid levels which can predispose to heart disease and blood clots.  Thyroid disease can also mask the signs of kidney disease in older cats.
      • Elderly dogs are prone to low thyroid levels which can predispose to hair loss, skin/ear infections, and weight gain.

 

Semi-annual bloodwork can help your veterinarian to help your pet before illness becomes severe.   Finding diseases before your pet becomes ill allows them the best chance at enjoying a long, healthy life.

 

Visit our Services page for more information about Senior Wellness visits here at Animal Medical Hospital.

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Why Does My Pet Need Fish Oils?

The Little Magic Pill: Fish Oils

Dr. Mari-Ashli Foy

Itchy skin? Achy joints? Kidney disease? Heart disease? What do all 4 of these medical problems have in common? Studies over the years have shown that with this simple addition to your pets diet, there are numerous benefits to be gained.  On the human side of things, we hear all the time about adding essential omega-3 fatty acids to our diet. However, many do not know what these essential fats are why they are important.

 

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids are a part of a group of fats known as essential fats. These essential fats are those that are not made by the body and instead must be consumed.  Examples of food that contain omega-3’s include primarily food from the fish family such as salmon, tuna, and trout. The other group of essential fatty acids are known as omega-6’s, can be found in plant oils and nuts like walnuts, flaxseed, and sunflower oil. Most of the pet foods animals consume have more of the omega-6 fatty acids, than omega-3 fatty acids.  To ensure a well balanced diet and help with certain medical conditions, the addition of fish oils have become an important part of veterinarians diet recommendations.

What can these fish oils do for my pet?

Below are just a few examples of  how omega-3 fatty acids can positively impact the health of your pet.  Always remember to check with your veterinarian before adding fish oils to your pet’s diet. They will be able to advise you on an appropriate dosage based on the amount of omega-6’s and omega-3’s your pet is already consuming. It is imporfoy-2tant that there is an appropriate balance of these two essential fatty acids to provide well rounded coverage.

  1. Inflammatory skin disorders: If you’ve noticed that your furry friend has been scratching more than usual, even with a monthly flea medication, try adding fish oils to his/her treatment regimen. Fish oils help with inflammation caused by allergies and will leave your pet’s coat looking shinier than ever!
  2. Osteoarthritis: Arthritis is a natural part of growing old. Studies have shown consistent use of fish oils in arthritic patients can improve weight bearing and lameness.
  3. Kidney Disease: Protective to the kidneys. Will help with hypertension which is damaging to the kidneys. Additionally, it has been shown to lessen the amount of protein in the urine.
  4. Heart Disease: Reduces the frequency of arrythmias. Decreases inflammation associated with chronic heart disease and heart failure patients.

 

Favorite Brands

  1. Nature Made Fish Oil
  2. Welactin Canine Liquid or Softgel
  3. Welactin Feline Liquid or Softgel

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