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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!

How Do You Brush a Cat’s Teeth?

The Best Ways To Care For Your Feline’s Adult Cat Teeth

How Many Teeth Do Domestic Cats Have?

Cats have 30 adult teeth and 26 baby teeth. Regular brushing at home combined with dental cleanings at the vet help to reduce the presence of plaque and tartar, both which kickstart inflammation and potential diseases. So how can you tell when your cat needs a good clean? 

As gross as it may seem, the smell of your cat’s breath is either a good indication of proper oral hygiene or prospective disease. Feline halitosis (as bad breath is scientifically referred to) can be caused by many different things. Most common is periodontal disease, a build-up of plaque that irritates the gums and can lead to infection. If plaque is not removed, it can harden into tartar, serving as a formidable base on which more plaque builds up. 

Is Bad Breath an Indication of a Bigger Problem? 

Although bad breath in cats doesn’t always mean something’s awry, bad breath can sometimes serve as a warning symptom for a much more significant health problem. If the root of the (tooth) problem is caused by oral cancers, this can severely impact both the comfort and life span of your cat.  

The smell of your cat’s breath can also predict conditions that extend beyond the surface of the mouth. A urine or ammonia smell coming from your cat’s mouth may signal kidney disease which requires professional care, so it’s best to take your cat into your local veterinary clinic as soon as possible.

Brushing Habits

So, how often should you brush your cat’s teeth? Ideally, to prevent decay and infection a cat’s teeth should be brushed just as often as human teeth. We understand that daily brushing can seem unattainable and unrealistic – especially if you want to avoid invading your cat’s personal space and risking their wrath every night before bed! So, as a supplement to regular brushing, you can consider dental cleansing treats; just be sure to discuss these with your veterinarian to ensure they are an acceptable part of your pet’s individual diet.  

Preventative Care

During a cat’s annual health check-up, veterinarians will check your pet’s teeth and gums for signs of disease. Looking at their gums for redness, yellow tinting, swelling, bleeding, and inflammation can help your veterinarian rule out gingivitis, liver disease, and poor oral care. Many domestic cats don’t get regular veterinary care until they are injured, or they show definite signs of being sick, so be sure to help keep your pet in good health with once-a-year wellness exams. Remember, your pet can’t tell you their teeth hurt, and cats are notorious for hiding pain. Don’t wait until your pet is clearly in pain or distress before bringing them in!

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!

Five Reasons Why You Should Get Your Pet’s Teeth Checked

Pet Dental Health MonthFebruary is Pet Dental Health Month, so if you haven’t made an appointment yet, it’s time. Here are five good reasons why you should get your pet’s teeth checked.

1/ If you’re like most people, you brush your teeth at least twice a daily because good dental care is essential to maintaining good health. But did you ever stop to think that your pet’s teeth need brushing, too? It’s best to begin when your pet is young by making it a regular part of your pet’s grooming routine. Your veterinarian can demonstrate proper techniques and recommend pet-friendly toothpastes.

2/ Animal lovers know there’s nothing quite like puppy or kitty breath. By the time their breath get a bit noticeable – and not in a good way – dental disease has gotten its first stronghold. In fact, by age three, nearly 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some form of dental disease.

3/ Pet dental disease could be a heartbreaking and expensive road leading to lost or broken teeth or even more serious problems. In fact, dental disease in pets has been linked to heart disease and other serious health conditions. The good news? Pet dental disease is preventable. With regular cleanings and veterinary exams, dental disease is also potentially reversible.

4/ Full grown cats have 30 teeth. Adult dogs have 42 teeth. In some cases, retained baby teeth can also cause problems. Regular veterinary care and routine dental cleanings can catch these issues early before they lead to more serious conditions.

5/ Remember, pets are masters at hiding pain. It’s part of their survival instinct. Changes in behavior like hiding, excessive drooling, or trouble eating hard kibble can signal dental problems like cracked or missing teeth. If you notice these or other behavior changes, make a veterinary appointment for a check-up.

During Pet Dental Health Month, AZPetVet is offering $50 off any dental service. Click here to find a location near you.

Tips For Preventing Pet Dental Disease

golden retriever smiles at cameraPeriodontal disease in pets (and people) can be prevented, treated and if caught early, even reversed. Here are some tips for preventing pet dental disease:

  1. Work directly with your veterinarian to protect your pet against the dangers of periodontal disease.
  2. Combine regular home brushing with veterinary cleanings and dental care to keep periodontal disease at bay.
  3. Brush your pet’s teeth daily with a toothpaste that’s just for dogs. Your vet can recommend one. Regular brushing helps reduce plaque.
  4. Give your dog dental chews and chew toys – the gnawing also helps reduce plaque formation on the teeth. Look for specially formulated dental chews that have special enzymes to impede the formation of tartar. These are not a replacement for brushing, but will help keep your pet’s mouth clean and fresh.
  5. Schedule regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian – at least once per year.

February is Pet Dental Health Month so it’s the perfect time to schedule a cleaning. Click here to find an AZPetVet location near you.

Pet Dental Health Month