How to Care For Your Senior Pets

Thanks to remarkable technological advances in veterinary medicine, pets are now living longer than ever before. But, along with the increased lifespan of our pets, comes a long list of conditions that can negatively affect them like: weight and movement issues such as osteoarthritis, kidney, heart, and liver disease; tumors and cancers; hormone disorders such as diabetes and thyroid imbalance; and many others. It’s important for pet owners to work closely with their veterinarian to arrange a health plan that is best for their senior pet.

Keep in mind that we as pet owners can also slow down and or ease the aging process of our furry family members. By providing your pet with routine mental and physical stimulation, this can help slow down the aging process drastically. Regular massaging isn’t only good for elderly pets with stiff joints but also helps improve circulation throughout the body. Countless research studies have also shown that continual mental stimulation helps the brain grow and allow more connections to be made throughout the process. You can slow the natural decay of the brain by routinely providing your dog with mental stimulation.

A healthy diet is also key when it comes to elderly pets. Feed your pets regular well balanced meals with high levels of antioxidants and minerals needed to sustain high performance; keeping in accordance to veterinary recommendations. Feeding your elderly pets balanced portions of grains, minerals and healthy fats will surely help increase life expectancy.

Just as the health care needs of humans change as we age, the same applies to pets. Over time, as your pet’s body ages, their heart muscles become less efficient—essentially working harder to pump the same amount of blood through their body. In addition, the blood vessels lose some of their elasticity and hardened fatty deposits may form on the inner walls of your pet’s arteries, called atherosclerosis. These changes make the arteries stiffer, causing your pet’s heart to work even harder to pump blood through them. This can lead to hypertension and other cardiovascular problems as well as extensive weight gain and the inability to shed those extra pounds. Although fast paced cardiovascular activity for your elderly pet is frowned upon, several short slow-paced walks or playtime can be just as beneficial.

In order to help your elderly pets live comfortably during their senior years, it is critical to work closely with your veterinarian to tailor a wellness plan for your pet. Remember to keep a close eye on behavioral and physical conditions and report anything unusual to your veterinarian who can help your pet reach its golden years with ease!

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Fit ‘n’ Furry Warns: Beware of Chicken Jerky Treats!

Are these jerky treats your dog’s favorite bedtime snack or good behavior reward? Most dogs would gobble up the hand that offered these along with the treats themselves as they are such a hit with pets. However, recent information from multiple veterinary associations as well as the FDA now warn pet owners against purchasing and feeding these types of chicken jerky treats to pets as there have been a large number of complaints of dogs becoming sick after consuming them. The treats in question are the jerky variety including chicken strips and chicken tenders that are supplied by manufacturers in China, including companies such as Import-Pingyang Pet Product Co. and Shanghai Bestro Trading. Testing has been done by the Food and Drug Administration and other veterinary diagnostic labs but a contaminant has yet to be discovered and it does not appear that the perpetrator is melamine, the same contaminant that was found in the massive pet food recall in 2007.

Complaints of pets having decreased appetites and activity level, vomiting, diarrhea, increased water consumption and urination, and lethargy have been associated with dogs ingesting these types of treats. Blood tests may indicate kidney failure in some pets and urine tests may show Fanconi syndrome in others; most pets were reported to have recovered from their illness, but the FDA has received some reports of dogs passing away after continued consumption. The FDA, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), and the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) have all received complaints and are conducting testing to determine the cause, monitoring the situation and posting any updates on their respective websites.

If your precious pooch has consumed any of these types of treats and has displayed any of the symptoms shown above discontinue use and have your veterinarian examine them for a suspected cause for their illness. If the treats seem to be the cause notify the FDA in your region by visiting this website. The FDA has not issued a recall on these products nor have they identified which companies may be involved but are cautioning pet parents to use their best judgement when purchasing treats for their dogs.  Updated information on this issue can also be found at the AVMA’s website here.

FitnFurry Asks, “When Is The Time To Say Goodbye To A Faithful Friend?”

To put your pet down, or to not put your pet down, that is the extremely difficult question many of us pet owners are faced with at some time or another.  Some questions to ask yourself are: Is my pet suffering or in pain in any way?  How has his/her quality of life changed? Is my pet exhibiting severe or dangerous behavior? Ask yourself these questions and I feel you might have an answer to our first question.

Everyone has their own role in a household, including your pet. Both you and your pet know what role they are there to fulfill.  Dr. Nancy Kay, author of “Speaking for Spot” suggests these questions: “Does my pet still respond enthusiastically to the things that would normally excite him/her?  Do the good days still seem to outnumber the bad?  When you get down on the ground and go eyeball-to-eyeball with your dear companion, do you still see that familiar spark in his/her eyes that let you know that he/she wants to keep on going?  Do you sense your pet is ‘hanging in there’ and putting on his/her game face in order to take care of you? Your always-loyal best friend may feel that he/she doesn’t have ‘permission to pass away’ because you, his/her most beloved human, aren’t quite ready to let go.”

A lot of times your pet will know when it’s time to go. They might even start distancing themselves from the family. Such as if your pet sleeps with you at night, he/she might start sleeping in another part of the room or house. Pack animals are known to separate themselves from the pack if they’ve become injured or weak to help prevent the stronger pack leaders from being hurt by protecting them.

The decision to put a pet to sleep is always difficult and intensely personal.  In most cases you will probably have some time to weigh your options and to speak with family and friends, unless there is some urgency, such as an untreatable injury or illness.  It’s a heart breaking experience for all pet owners, but surrounding yourself with people who knew and also loved your pet can bring a sense of closure.  Remembering your pet in a positive way and all the loving moments you shared together can be a comforting exercise to do with your family, especially with younger children.  Let them know that Buddy isn’t suffering anymore, that he’s no longer in distress, and encourage them to think of all the fun/happy times.  Celebrate the times your family shared with Buddy and always remember the unconditional love you and your family experienced during Buddy’s life. If you have loved and lost a pet, I wish you serenity and acceptance over the sadness of your pet’s passing.