Pet Obesity is a Big Deal

 

fat cat

5 Reasons Why Pet Obesity is a Big Deal

Obesity in pets can lead to arthritis, diabetes, and can ultimately lower a pet’s life expectancy.  Find out five reasons to ask, “Is my pet overweight?” at your next visit…

 

Senior Pet Health: When Is My Pet Considered a Senior and Why It’s Important.

Our pets are living much longer lives than they did 10 to 20 years ago.  This is due in a large part to advances in veterinary medicine and health care.  Much of the research for human disease prevention uses dogs as a model for discovering this information.  Many breeds from the American Kennel Club fund research projects to find answers to disease conditions that affect their breed.  Many of these conditions also affect people so that knowledge gained in canine research leads to breakthroughs in the human medical field as well.  As a result of this new knowledge, we now can detect disease conditions in dogs and cats much earlier than in years past.  Just as in human medicine, early detection and early intervention can lead to a higher quality of life, a longer life for your pet.

Senior pet health care is designed to perform screening tests for early detection of disease just as we do in humans.  Basic lab tests can pick up on early changes so that we can then monitor the progression of the disease and initiate treatment in a timely fashion to slow the progression of the disease and the associated damage that will occur.  When we age, we can tell our doctor or loved ones that we have this ache or pain or that we are tired or don’t feel well.  This alerts our physician to run screening tests to find the cause and treat appropriately.  Our pets do not tell us these things.  They can go for a number of years before we realize there is something wrong.   By the time the owner notices a problem, often it is far advanced causing great damage to the pet.  In addition, treatment at that time is often much more costly to the owner than early intervention and early treatments.

At what age is my dog or cat considered a senior?  It depends upon what pet you have and their calendar age.  Humans often enter into senior screenings when we reach age 50.  Colonoscopies are often performed at this age, earlier if there is a family history of the disease.  The following chart will help you determine at what age your pet is considered to be “50” in human years.  Cat owners should use the same chart as we do for small dogs.

The outer orange ring is used to calculate “human years” for giant breed dogs.  The middle ring is for large breed dogs, and the inner lighter orange ring is for medium to small dogs and cats.  So, a 6 year old Giant breed dog, 7 year old large breed dog and 8 year old medium/small dog and cat would all be considered to be in their early 50’s in human years.  So, in one calendar year your  giant breed dog will age about 7 human years, large breed dog about 6 human years, and medium/small dogs and cats about 5 human years.

Based upon the above aging chart, health screenings are needed minimally every year for your pet.  If your pet has a chronic compensated disease such as kidney failure, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, etc, more frequent monitoring is needed to manage the condition.  Not performing annual tests would be like you having a disease and not being checked for 5-7 years!  A lot can go wrong in that amount of time.  This is also why your pet can be fine at one visit and 3-6 months later show significant loss of organ function.

For optimum health and longevity of your pet, start annual health screenings  at 6 years for giant breed dogs,  7 years for large breed dogs, and 8 years for medium/small breed dogs and cats.  It is much easier to manage a disease if detected early.  It helps slow the progression of the disease and also helps prevent more serious damage to your pet.

 

 

 

 

 

Aging Pets……How Old is “Old”?

      Most of us remember being told that 1 year of a dog or cats life is equal to 7 years of a human’s life.  While this averages out it is not a direct 1 for  1 correlation.  Dogs and cats mature very fast so that by 6 months of age most of them can reproduce.  By year 1 to 2 they are comparable to humans in their 20’s to 30’s  The aging process then levels out for a number of years but toward the later years of our pet’s life the rate of decline is quite accelerated.  Another factor affecting the aging process is the size of the animal.  Toy breed dogs and most cats can live well into their mid to late teens if well cared for.  Giant or large breed dogs are good to make it to double digit ages in many cases.  Therefore a 6 year old Great Dane is much “older” physically than a 6 year old Chihuahua.

     As our pets age there are a number of diseases and conditions that can impact them and shorten their lives and decrease their quality of life.  As is true in human medicine, early detection allows for early intervention thus helping to prevent serious harm and/or slow the progression of the disease and thus increasing your pet’s quality of life and adding to the number of years you enjoy your pet.  This is a key reason we recommend screening health tests for your pet.  Think of these tests as an “internal physical examination” of your pet.  We can evaluate organ function and screen for many of the problems facing pets in their later years.  One frequently asked question is why do I need the tests done every 6 to 12 months?  In the later years of their life your pet will age in 1 calendar year as much as a 75 to 80 year old person will age in 5 or 6 calendar years.  If you stop to think about this, a lot of decline can happen to our pets in a matter of months since their rate of decline is much faster when compared to people.  Therefore, most senior pets should have routine “internal physicals” minimally every 12 months, more often if they have a chronic compensating disease like diabetes, kidney insufficiency, hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, chronic arthritis, liver disease, etc.   A health plan formulated to meet the needs of your aging pets will provide a higher quality of life for them and add years to the time you have to enjoy them.  Also, early intervention in most disease processes will minimize or slow the damage from disease and thus help avoid those major health emergencies pets face when these diseases go undetected.

So, how old is your pet?  Think about this information and if your small or medium dog or your cat is  7-8 years old then they are a senior pet.  If your large or giant dog is 5-6 they are entering their senior years as well.  We encourage all owners of senior pets to get them on a regular plan of preventive health care to maintain them as happy, healthy and active for as many years as possible.

Leptospirosis–A Very Real Threat

Leptospirosis continues to be a very serious threat to dogs and their owners.  I consider it one of the core vaccines your dog should have yearly.  This is a disease that you can contract from you dog as well and it can cause serious illness, permanent kidney damage and death in both dogs and humans.  There is a very good article from Michigan State University regarding a recent outbreak in the Detroit area.  The information applies to our area as well.  Go to  http://news.msu.edu/story/9952/  .  I hope this is useful for every one.

Senior Pets Need Additional Monitoring

With advancements in veterinary medicine, there are many options for you to maximize your senior pets health and quality of life.  Depending upon whether you have a cat or dog there are certain health conditions that can negatively impact them.  In addition, large or giant breed dogs need these evaluations sooner than a smaller dog or cat due to the shortened life span associated with these larger pets.  In general a small dog or cat is considered to be a “senior” when they reach the age of 7 or 8 years.  Large and giant breed dogs the “senior” status begins at age 5-7. 

 

What do we look for in senior pets?  Just as in people we are checking for early signs of kidney, liver, and heart disease.  Additionally we evaluate for the beginnning of arthritis and diabetes.  Weight evaluation  and management are important as well.  Dental health is critical at all stages of life but especially as our pets age.  Poor dental health is a leading source of infection that enters the blood stream and can spread to the liver, kidney and heart causing major damage and disease.  It also HURTS to have bad teeth and gum disease!  Pets do not let us know they have a cavity in a tooth until that tooth is so far gone that we smell the odor or the pet is in severe pain.  When we have a small cavity, it HURTS us, too and we can tell our dentist which tooth and where it hurts.  Regular dental exams including cleaning and xrays can pinpoint these problems early leading to better dental health, improved overall general health and a much happier pet.

The health screens can be custom tailored to your pet’s needs, but in general, all pets should have a urinalysis, urine albumin screening, CBC (blood count) and Chem 10 (basic organ function tests).  Additionally, all senior cats should have a blood pressure and a Thyroid evaluation.  Early detection allows for early intervention thus maximizing the health and longevity of your pet, adding years of enjoyment for you and a higher quality of life for your pet.

We are encouraging all owners of senior pets to begin early monitoring and we are happy to explain in detail how we can assist you.  Together we are your pet’s health care team and we all want to preserve their health and well being.  Be sure to ask us next time you visit.