Tag Archives: pet health

10 Ways to Comfort and Care for a Senior Pet

Is your pet in its golden years? You two have been through a lot together, and now you want to ensure that your pet is as comfortable and happy as possible. Or perhaps you’ve recently welcomed an older pet into your home – high-paw for you! The most important thing you can do for your senior pet is to schedule regular vet visits. Here are other ideas from PetMD and the AVMA.

1. Exercise

Keep your pet at a healthy weight, improve his mood, and stave off arthritis with exercise. PetMD recommends starting with walks of 10-15 minutes each, then gradually increasing the length. Keep in mind that regular, low-impact exercise is what your pet needs in his golden years, rather than strenuous activity. Consult your veterinarian if your pet has difficulty exercising.

2. Cushioned bedding

Has it been awhile since you updated your pet’s bedding? Remember that elderly pets may need extra or special bedding to cushion their achy joints. Consider an orthopedic pet bed to help soothe your pet’s aches, and make sure he can get in and out of it easily.

3. Heated bedding

While you’re on the search for new pet bedding, what about a pet bed that’s heated? A cozy, gently heated pet bed can provide therapeutic relief for achy elderly pets, or simply a warm place to nestle in during the winter. If an entirely new pet bed is not in your budget, consider a bed warmer, which is placed in the existing pet bed for toasty comfort.

4. Dental care

Take care of your pet’s chompers! If you brush your pet’s teeth regularly, keep up the good work. And if you’ve fallen behind, start with a vet exam and professional cleaning. If your pet can’t stand brushing, consider dental treats and toys.

5. High-quality diet

Feed your dog or cat healthy, nutrient-rich meals that are appropriate for his age and lifestyle. Consult your veterinarian about your pet’s dietary needs and stick to the plan, be it a low-sodium diet or one lower in calories.

6. Mental stimulation

Keep your pet’s mind sharp and prevent boredom with mental stimulation. Teach your pet new, low-impact tricks and engage him in interactive play. If he’s friendly and socialized, let him explore new places where pets are allowed. Stimulate his mind with new toys and food puzzles. Consider replacing old, hard toys with softer yet durable alternatives that are kinder to sensitive teeth and gums.

7. Physical contact

A little affection goes a long way! Boost your pet’s mood and increase the bond between pet and owner with physical contact. In addition to pats, snuggles, and belly rubs, remember to groom your pet to keep him looking and feeling his best.

8. Sweater or coat

Have you long-scoffed at dogs in clothes? Certainly, some breeds tolerate the cold better than others, and canine attire is not right for every dog. But senior pets can struggle with cold temperatures in drafty homes or during short trips outdoors. If your pet can tolerate clothing, he might be more comfortable with that extra insulating layer provided by a sweater or coat. Choose attire that’s easy to wash, and avoid itchy fabrics and ill-fitting garments; make sure your pet can move comfortably and won’t trip.

9. Easy accessibility

Find little ways to make everyday life easier on your senior pet. If she has difficulty climbing onto couches or beds (assuming she’s allowed) or into a vehicle, consider pet stairs or a pet ramp. Even something as simple as moving your cat’s litter box to an easy-to-access area can be helpful.

10. Carpeting over slippery floors

A young, acrobatic pet might rebound quickly from a slip or skid, but don’t expect the same from your senior pet. For him, a fall can be serious and reduce his quality of life. So take some precautionary measures, and add traction to slippery floors with rugs or carpeting. If this isn’t an option, consider outfitting him in non-slip dog socks that have a gripper surface on the bottom.

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Fitness, Pet Beds, Pet Health, Pet Safety

April is Heartworm Awareness Month

Did you know that April is Heartworm Awareness Month? Now is a great time to brush up on your knowledge and make sure you’re taking the appropriate steps to protect your dog or cat.

According to the American Heartworm Society, heartworms are spread by the bite of an infected mosquito. Heartworms are parasites that live in the heart, lungs, and blood vessels of affected pets; heartworm disease can cause severe damage to pets’ organs. Though rates of infection vary from year to year, heartworm disease has been reported in all 50 states, and both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk. Remember that prevention and early treatment are best!

What can you do?

The AHS recommends that you “Think 12”:

1) Get your pet tested every 12 months for heartworm.

2) Give your pet heartworm preventative 12 months a year.

Be sure to administer the heartworm preventative strictly on schedule, according to the preventative type; failure to do so may allow immature larvae to molt into the adult stage. According to WebMD: Pet Health, if your dog gets heartworms and is treated for them, he can still get them again, so prevention is important.

To learn more about heartworm prevention and treatment, visit the American Heartworm Society and PetMD.

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Pet Vaccinations

More and more, pet vaccinations are being seen as unnecessary. Animals have survived for years without human intervention, so why start now? Aren’t vaccinations just another way to glean money out of owner’s pockets? In these penny-pinching times, these are legitimate concerns. But vaccinating now could mean avoiding costly operations down the road. Moreover, your pet is a domesticated animal, not a feral one, and depends upon you, her human companion, for survival. Here are the basics of feline and canine vaccination (other pets also require vaccinations; consult your veterinarian for a vaccination schedule):

  1. Vaccines introduce a weaker form of a disease into your pet’s immune system, prepping it for stronger forms of the disease it might encounter later.
  2. Side effects are always a possibility but are rarely lethal. Your pet may be experiencing a side effect if he is running a fever, is vomiting, or has diarrhea.
  3. Don’t miss these! “Core” vaccinations are the standard for all cats and dogs.
    Examples: parvovirus vaccine (for dogs), panleukopenia vaccine (for cats)
  4. “Non-core” vaccinations are not always crucial to your pet’s health and can be skipped (just ask your vet first!)
    Examples: Canine Parainfluenza vaccine (for dogs), Bordetella bronciseptica vaccine

Vaccinations aren’t fun for your pet or your wallet, but they go a long way toward keeping her healthy and safe. Check with your vet to see if there are any non-core vaccinations you can shave off the roster. A few less expenses couldn’t be bad for your health either!

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Filed under Cats, Dogs, Pet Health