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Most Common Age-Related Diseases in Senior Pets

Who has heard the saying “Aging is a Disease”? We definitely have! Aging is a natural process that happens to all of us, but that doesn’t mean aging itself is a disease. What’s true is that senior pets are more susceptible to specific health conditions as a result of aging. Thanks to the advancements in veterinary medicine, our fur babies can live longer and happier lives – with some extra TLC! Here are some of the most common age-related diseases, symptoms to look for, and how they can affect your pets. 

  • Arthritis: We know how much dogs love to take walks, and cats love to jump onto their perch. If your pet begins limping on those walks or is hesitating to run and jump on their perch, they may be showing early signs of arthritis. Arthritis is a common disease amongst senior pets, where one or more of the joints are inflamed, resulting in continuous pain and muscle stiffness. Some large breed dogs such as German Shepards, Labrador, and Golden Retrievers have a genetic predisposition to develop the disease in their elbows and hips. The best way to help prevent your pet from developing arthritis is weight management, which can help decrease the stress put on certain joints. In some cases, we can prescribe medication to help reduce swelling and pain. If you are noticing any changes in your pet’s physical abilities, please contact us immediately so we can discuss the options available to keep your pets feeling their best.
  • Vision Loss: Just as our vision can become impaired with age, so can our pets! The most common diseases that cause vision loss in pets are diabetes, glaucoma, and cataracts.  Vision loss can be hard to detect in pets because they often adapt by compensating with their other senses. Depending on the cause of vision loss, it can make it more challenging to prevent. Some common symptoms of vision loss include bumping into objects, cloudy, discolored or inflamed eyes, and even clumsiness and disorientation. 
  • Dental Disease:  Did you know that dental disease is the number one medical problem in dogs and cats? Yes, you read that, right! Dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) is an inflammatory disease from leftover bacteria in the mouth, causing symptoms such as bad breath, problems eating, red gums and bleeding, and in severe cases, loss of teeth. If dental disease is left untreated, it can have adverse effects on the large organs in the body – including the heart, liver, and kidneys. To help fight dental disease, annual dental cleanings, and daily home care are highly recommended. Talk with us at your next appointment about preventative care and treatment options. 
  • Cognitive Dysfunction: You may notice that your pet is beginning to have more of those “senior moments.” It may be that your pet is moving slower than usual, appearing to be more anxious or even seems disoriented and confused in familiar spaces. These behaviors can be the beginning signs of cognitive dysfunction – very similar to dementia and Alzheimer’s. Cognitive dysfunction is a neurological disease related to the aging of the mind, that can slow down all mental and motor functions as well as trained behaviors. The symptoms are typically mild and come on gradually, making it difficult to initially detect. If you suspect your pet is developing any of these symptoms or notice changes in their behavior, contact us right away.
  • Heart and Kidney Disease: With age, many of the large organs in the body are known to slow down. Heart and kidney disease are similar in that they both consist of progressive loss of the organ function. Some common symptoms of heart disease are lethargy, coughing, and rapid breathing. Similarly, common symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy, decreased appetite, and increased urination and thirst. Both of these diseases are tricky to detect because the symptoms can either appear gradually or very suddenly. While both can be preventable, treatment may consist of oral medication and changes to their diet.

Ultimately, you cannot stop the aging of your pups and kitties; but what we can do is work together in an effort to detect these disease symptoms sooner rather than later. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure your pet leads the healthiest and happiest life possible!

Senior Pet Exams

We know how important your pup is to your family, and they are just as important to us! As your dog enters the “golden years,” their health care needs change – with increased chances of diseases and age-related conditions. As we know, our dogs cannot tell us if they are sick, and with an older pet’s increased chances of illness, senior pet exams are key in keeping your furry family member healthy. With this in mind, we want to share some information with you on senior pet exams to help you make the most informed decisions for your dog’s overall health.

A very common question we get is, “When is my dog considered a senior?” It’s no secret that pups age faster than humans! According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, canines are generally considered “seniors” at age seven – although this can be different for each pet depending on their genetics, home environment, and overall health.  

 What can I expect during a senior check-up? Most senior exams contain these components:

  1.  History: The exam typically begins with various questions – checking for any recent changes in their lifestyle, habits, appetite, mobility, mood, etc. We will also ask about their diet and any medications or supplements they are taking. This allows us to take a current “snapshot” of your pup’s health, seeing if any of these differences indicate a health concern. 
  2. Complete Physical Examination: A nose to tail examination is conducted to assess the external appearance and body condition, checking for any abnormalities. We check their teeth and gums, feel for lumps and bumps, listen to the heart and lungs, feel and move the joints, and examine the abdomen for any internal organ changes that we may be able to feel from the outside. In a senior pet exam, we are looking for signs of aging such as dental disease, hyperthyroidism (specifically in felines) growths, heart disease, arthritis, and changes in the size of some internal organs.
  3. Lab Work: We recommend senior pets receive routine lab testing at least once a year. This helps us evaluate their overall wellness while detecting specific health conditions that may not be visible. Annual testing is also valuable because it indicates what ‘normal’ is for your pet. There is a range of normal for all of us – pets included – and conducting annual tests can show us those subtle drops or increases that could be pre-indicators in potential areas of concern. The tests recommended will vary depending on your specific pet’s needs, but the minimum testing suggested is a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry profile, and urinalysis. 

Aging typically means more visits to the doctor. We encourage you to bring your dog in at least twice a year for senior exams. Depending on their overall health condition, this number may vary, so make sure to talk with us at your next appointment about what is best for your pup.

Trust us when we say that we understand senior pets care sounds a bit overwhelming and scary at first. As the saying goes, “Prevention is the best medicine,” and more frequent vet visits will allow us to detect health conditions in a more timely manner. As your trusted partner in pet health care, we want to help ensure you can continue creating fun memories with your sidekick!

What to Know About Purebred Vs Mutt Health, Life Expectancy, and More!

Purebred Vs Mixed Breed: Everything You Should Know

There has been a lot said when it comes to whether or not a mixed breed dog is healthier (or not) than a purebred dog. There certainly seems to be a surplus of health benefits for mixed breed dogs as compared to their purebred counterparts. With that said, however, this isn’t to say there aren’t any benefits in choosing a purebred dog. So if you’re looking to bring a furry friend into your home but are worried whether a purebred or mixed breed is right for you, sit back and relax. We’re going to uncover the benefits of mixed breed dogs and purebred, purebred vs mutt health and life expectancy, and more!

Benefits of Mixed Breed Dogs

  • Get That Same Breed Look: Some dog owners are looking for a puppy with a distinct look, say a husky or a chow chow. Many mixed breed dogs will tend to physically resemble one breed more than the other, so you can get pretty close to a purebred look for your dog while still adopting mixed breed.
  • OR Get a Unique Look: On the other hand, if you like the uniqueness of a mixed breed dog, then it’s possible to find a dog that doesn’t look like other dogs. Take Basil for instance — a 3-year-old mixed breed dog (photo submitted by a staff member!). Take a second to guess what breed he is. We’ll give you a second.
  • Price: A key benefit of mixed breed dogs is that they come at a much cheaper price than those from the breeders of purebred dogs. While their personalities and growth may come as a surprise to you, the experience will be well worth the wait (and the wait itself is so much fun) if you love surprises and being spontaneous. And back to the question — what breed is Basil? If you guessed husky/labrador, you’re a winner!

Benefits of Purebred Dogs

One misconception people have about purebred dogs is that all purebred dogs are not as healthy as their mixed counterpart. While there is research that suggests this is true for some breeds (and we’ll get to this soon), there are various factors that influence the life expectancy and health of purebred dogs.

  • Specifically Selected Parents: In most cases, dogs breeders have selected the parents (sire and dam) specifically for health and desired breed traits to ensure that their puppies will be happy and healthy.
  • You Know What to Expect: When you get a purebred dog, you can expect to know how large they will get, their temperament, and more. If you’re living in a smaller home or work long hours, you can choose a dog that is suited for your lifestyle; whereas a mixed breed dog may have some surprises that might not be as easily manageable.
  • Ease With Training: With a purebred dog, you (and potential trainers) have a better idea of what to expect with your furry friend. What this means is that a dog might not have the temperament you’re looking for — and you won’t know this until they are older. For Basil for instance — part husky and part lab. While the lab in him makes him viable as a great service dog, the husky portion of him might make service or guide training difficult. Speaking directly with Basil’s owner, it’s clear that… the latter is true. He is apparently impossible to train. While this varies across the board, a purebred dog lets you know what to expect, so you can pick a pup with a training regimen in mind.

Purebred Vs Mutt: The Major Health Differences

When comparing purebred vs mutt health, there are some differences in how purebred and mixed breed dogs inherit genetic disorders. A study conducted by the Institute of Canine Biology examined cases of 24 different genetic disorders and found that across the board, 10 disorders occurred more frequently in purebreds, 1 disorder occurred more frequently in mixed breeds and then the last 13 disorders did not appear more frequently in either dog.

So this means that you should only adopt a mixed breed dog, right? Nothing is ever that simple. Let’s just examine two of the disorders more frequented in purebred dogs: atopy (or allergies). Studies found that 1 percent of mixed breed dogs were affected by allergies. In contrast, some of the top purebred dogs with allergies included the West Highland White Terrier (8.2%), Coonhound (8%), and Wirehaired Fox Terrier (8%). Now let’s look at bloat in dogs. With mixed breeds, we are again at less than 1 percent. The breeds that bloat was most present in were Saint Bernard (3.7%), Irish Setter (3.4%), and Bloodhounds (3.4%).

What does this mean?

In these two categories of disorders, purebred dogs did exhibit symptoms more often; however, not all purebreds were at the same risk for the same diseases. Consider how some dogs are more apt to be a ‘watchdog’ or protective dog, and others are more apt to live in a small apartment than others. Obviously, not all dogs are the same. So do mixed breed dogs really have fewer health problems? The answer is not so definitive. Mixed breed dogs are not going to be healthier than purebreds all the time. While some breeds may be at a higher risk for health problems, every dog is different.

Furthermore, many dogs will go on without developing any particular health complications. If you want to know the health patterns for a specific breed of a dog, you’ll get a better expectation of what to look for throughout their life by talking to a breeder or by doing more breed-specific research.

Purebred vs Mixed Breed Life Expectancy

Not much will be said about life expectancy that hasn’t already been said about purebred vs mutt health. There are a multitude of factors that impact the life expectancy of a dog.

  • Wellness Care: Of course, if you invest in how you care for your dog — by adhering to the Veterinary recommendation for annual or semi-annual wellness exams — then your dog will be more primed to live a longer and healthier life.
  • Dog Size: Additionally, research on the size of the dog has shown that some larger dogs may have a life expectancy of around 7-10 years, while smaller ones may have up to 13-16 years. These, of course, aren’t hard numbers, but general observations.
  • The Real Question: Even though research has indicated that mixed breed dogs show signs of longer life expectancy, proper dog care will always be key in making sure your dog — no matter the size, no matter their lineage — will live a long and happy life beside you!

In Conclusion

Really, the decision to choose a dog that’s either mixed breed or purebred is entirely up to you. Each has its own unique strengths which can make for a fun (albeit different) experience for you and your family. Even with all these facts in place, it’s important to remember that each dog is different. While they may react to things in very similar fashions, every dog has its own special personality and spirit which will make the overall experience all-the-more fun!

What To Look For When Choosing a Pet: How To Find The Perfect Dog For Me?

How to Choose a Dog: What Is The Best Type of Pet For Me?

When it comes to finding the best type of pet for your family, it’s important to consider the needs of you and your family first. Of course, your lifestyle will need some adjusting when introducing a furry friend into the mix, so choosing a new family member that best accommodates your current family and lifestyle will make the experience easier for everyone. Knowing what to look for when choosing a pet and more importantly, why these factors matter will help. Here’s how to choose a dog that’s perfect for your family and lifestyle!

  1. Living Arrangements

When choosing a pet, consider your housing situation first. If you live in an apartment complex with a shared backyard space versus a house with a private yard space, your options for dogs may vary. Obviously, larger breeds will need more space to run around and play in. Of course, how you plan on caring for your dog may change the situation.

As a rule of thumb, if you’re looking to bring a large dog into the family, make sure that your home can accommodate them comfortably. There are obvious exceptions to the rule, such as bulldogs and greyhounds — although there are caveats (we’ll explain them next!).

The best type of pets for small apartments will be the smaller puppers that don’t mind a day (or a few hours) indoors. Additionally, if you live in an apartment complex, know the management’s policy on dogs. The ‘perfect dog for me’ might not be the ‘perfect dog for your housing complex’. Instead, mix the demands of your family with the demands of your complex when choosing the best type of pet for you. If your complex only allows for small dogs, then breeds such as German shepherds and Huskies will not be allowed. Consider the long-term living arrangements with your furry friend and how large they are expected to grow.

For small apartments, Boston terriers, chihuahuas, pugs, Basenjis, and similar small dogs may be the best type of pet for you. For a large home, you don’t really face any constraints.

  1. Lifestyle

Your lifestyle and living arrangement can supplement each other at times. Back to the bulldogs and greyhounds — while they are more than happy to relax around the house, they will require daily physical activity such as long walks or trips to the dog park.

When choosing a pet, you must consider your lifestyle. If you are the type to naturally be active (or have a family that is more than willing to take their turn walking the dog), then a more active dog that can accompany you on walks and runs will be the best type of pet for you. These include Huskies, German shepherds, golden and lab retrievers, border collies, and more! For dogs requiring less exercise, consider English bulldogs, chow chows, Boston terriers, pugs, and more. Note that some of these breeds will still require a walk at least once a day, but every dog is different and has different needs. Look into breed characteristics to figure out the best type of pet for you.

  1. Time Allocated

Similar to lifestyle, you should know how much time you can dedicate to your pup. For instance, will someone (not necessarily you at all times) be around your pup? Will your dog have to deal with perhaps 2-3 hours of alone time or will it be closer to 8 hours? When asking ‘how to choose a dog’ for you, it’s important to consider both what you need and also what your dog will need. Of course, if you have to leave your dog home alone for 8+ hours a day, your dog will manage; however, there are some dogs that are better equipped to stay at home alone for longer periods of time. These may be the “perfect dog for me”. The best type of low maintenance breeds include Labradoodles, Boston terriers, English foxhound, Shiba Inu, and chows. Depending on the breed, consider getting a doggie door. While the addition of a doggie door can create additional safety considerations, often these can be helpful in ensuring your pet has the opportunity to potty and get some exercise on their own.

Alternatively, there are options to get your dog exercise while you’re at the office. For instance, apps like Wag! or Rover have people standing by to walk dogs for about $20 a walk. Or, if your office is dog-friendly (and you are opting for a dog that can be trained more easily), you can bring in your pup.

  1. Any Siblings?

Will Fido be introduced to small children, other dogs, cats, and/or smaller pets like birds or snakes? Because there are different things you should know about each sibling, we’ll break down the differences when choosing a pet for you.

Children. There has been some back and forth on when you should introduce a dog to a child. Is 1-years-old too young? How about 5-years-old? A good rule to follow is that for families with children under 6 years old, you may be able to adopt a dog over 2 years old. Why not a puppy and a child at the same time? A puppy — even a breed that tends to be lower maintenance — requires more time and energy during their growing years than adult years. You will be constrained for time and need to allocate resources carefully. Additionally, puppies go through a teething phase that may be harmful for new children and toddlers. Additionally, anything from rough play to growing dogs ~unaware of their own growth ~ can pose a risk to smaller children.

Other Dogs. When choosing a pet, it’s important to note that some dogs are lone wolves. Some breeds prefer human companionship to other dogs and may even be jealous when you’re at the dog park petting another dog. Border collies, Australian shepherds, German shepherds, Samoyed, pugs, and poodles are just some of the people-focused dog breeds. This isn’t to say they do not do well with other dogs; many do. You just need to properly socialize them and get them accustomed to sharing attention with other dogs.

Cats. There are ways to socialize and safely introduce cats and dogs that are unfamiliar with each other. Again, a lot of this will depend on the nature of your dog and cat, but there may be a considerable amount of time investment. For instance, one animal may send a ‘play’ signal that the other species interprets as threatening or dangerous. It’s important to know the socialization steps involved with introducing a dog to a cat. If you have the time and resources to do this, then here is a nifty guide on starting the process. It’s also important to see if a dog can handle co-opting a space with a cat.

Small Animals. When it comes to a dog co-opting a space with a bird, iguana, or turtle, you’re facing an uphill battle. There will be a lot of time that you’ll need to dedicate to training your furry friend as to not harm your other critter at home. Teaching your dog commands such as ‘leave it’ or ‘out’ (spit out) may be handy in training your dog on what they can or cannot do.

That’s Just The Tip of the Iceberg

Obviously, there will be many more things to consider when it comes to picking the best type of pet for your home. It may seem like an exhaustive search; however, when it comes to choosing a pet, remember that you are bringing a new member into your family so it’s important to make sure it’s a good match. There are many questionnaires and quizzes for you to check out to get you closer to your next match! Check out IAMS, American Kennel Club, Pedigree, and Purina to help close the gap between you and your next best friend!

In Celebration of Professional Pet Sitters Week

In honor of the 25th Annual Professional Pet Sitters Week, here are a few reasons why you might need to call a professional pet sitter:

  • If you’ve ever had to drop everything to travel at the last minute for work or an emergency
  • If you’ve ever needed someone to take care of your pet while you go on vacation
  • If you’ve ever felt like you can’t travel because you have no one to look after your pet
  • If your pet is older and gets stressed out by change in environment or travel
  • If your pet has health issues and can’t risk exposure to other animals
  • If you get stressed out thinking of leaving your pet in a kennel

Reasons to love professional pet sitters while you’re away for a few days or even longer:

  • No disruption to your pet’s daily routine
  • No stressful environment changes for your pet
  • No calling in favors with family, neighbors or friends
  • No wrestling with pet carriers or potentially stressful car rides
  • Your pet will have regular attention, exercise, and TLC
  • Your pet’s medications and health will be monitored
  • You’ll get regular updates, so less to worry about
  • Your home will look lived in, so less risk of crime

Thanks to all the Professional Pet Sitters!