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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!

Dogs and Boating Safety for Summer Outings

From puppy life vests to safety kits, here are a few ways to keep your dogs safe on boat trips

Check Your State Laws

While federal law does not outline specific regulations regarding dogs on boats, certain local laws may restrict dogs at particular boat landings or parks, and set temperature cutoffs for taking your animal outdoors. With sometimes unbearable summertime heat, under Arizona law, pet owners are required to provide clean water and shade for pets outdoors. This means finding a covered, comfortable area on the boat where your dog has plenty of room to cool down. Dogs are significantly prone to heatstroke and need to stay hydrated, so it’s important to know the signs. More information on heat stroke in pets.

Invest in a Dog Life Jacket or Vest

Do dogs need life jackets to be on a boat? While state law requires a life jacket for everyone on board a vessel, it doesn’t specifically mention dogs. Your pet is a member of your family, however, so why wouldn’t you protect them, too? It’s tempting to take a shortcut and order a life vest online to save time and money. Problem is — dogs come in so many shapes, weights, and sizes, you’d be better served by making a trip to a sporting goods store or pet store to test it out for size and fit. 

Here are a few tips on choosing the best dog life jacket for your furry friend; and remember, taking the time to get one that fits properly could save your pet’s life! 

    • Get a life vest with a handle. A handle ensures you can fish your four-legged friend out of the water if they go overboard. 
    • Look for a  D-ring. The D-ring allows you to attach a leash to your dog’s newest life jacket.
    • Know the difference. While they may seem similar, life jackets and vests are two different products. A life jacket acts as a full-body harness that provides better floatation and visibility. Life vests provide less coverage for your dog, but they also allow your dog more mobility in the water. If your pup is a strong swimmer, this is certainly one good option.

Once they’re tricked out in a heavy-duty accessory, your dog might need a friendly little nudge to encourage them to wear the look properly. One great tip is to introduce the dog to wearing the life vest before you go on the boat. That way, your pet won’t be overwhelmed by too many new things happening at once.

Another necessity is a restraint to ensure your pooch doesn’t fall overboard. Opt for a harness, rather than a collar, so the movement of the boat doesn’t pull your dog by the neck. Harnesses can typically fit under or over a life jacket. If your dog’s jacket has a D-ring, it’s best just to attach your leash straight to the jacket, so you avoid the hassle of too much equipment. 

Make a Test Run

Not all dogs are going to be comfortable on a boat, so it’s wise to keep the first outing a short one.  Allow your dog to get acclimated to the boat BEFORE you head for water, or while you are still docked. Once you’re on the water, watch your dog carefully for signs of sea/motion sickness. Symptoms of motion sickness can include: 

  • Inactivity
  • Listlessness
  • Uneasiness
  • Yawning or panting
  • Whining
  • Excessive drooling
  • Vomiting (even on an empty stomach)

It’s safe to say that bringing your pet along for the boat ride can be a great time – so long as you follow these few safety tips to ensure you and your pet enjoy the water. If you have any suggestions on how to keep your dog safe while boating, leave them in the comments below! 

What To Do If Your Dog, Cat, or Smaller Pet Gets Lost and How to Find Them

Your Dog, Cat, or Smaller Pet Gets Lost, What Do You Do Next?

Having a beloved pet go missing is a painful experience, and it’s one that no pet owner should ever have to experience. The good news is that there are various preventive measures you can take to help ensure that your furry friend doesn’t get lost. Here are some tips from the AZPetVet team:

Get Them Microchipped 

Getting your pet microchipped is the simplest and quickest measure to take in helping to prevent your pet from getting lost. Whether or not your dog or cat is a runner or a homebody — be sure to get your friend microchipped during their first vet visit. This will allow others to help your pet find its way home if it does run away or accidentally get out. After your pet is microchipped, be sure to always keep your contact information up to date to ensure anyone who finds your pet will have your current information available. Since pets like hamsters, turtles, or birds spend much of their time in their cages, aside from monitored adventures around the house, it isn’t as crucial for these pets get microchipped; but it is available. Outdoor tortoises have been known to escape from the yard, so you can definitely have them chipped as a precautionary measure.

Collar & Tags

Make sure your pet always wears a collar with tags that have updated contact information. When buying a collar and tags, try to find something that is durable and weather-resistant, so it will last. 

How To Find Your Lost Pet

If you do find yourself in the terrible situation of a missing animal, there are specific steps to take to find your lost pet. For the most part, these rules can apply to any kind of pet — just with some slight variations. Here is what you should do if your dog, cat, or other pet gets lost: 

Make Posters

Be sure to include all of the most essential information when creating posters. People need to know your pet’s name, the cross streets of where you live, and your contact details. It’s also wise to include a current and clear photo of your dog or cat with a description, including weight, fur color, and any other physical features that will help people best identify your pet. Post this information around your neighborhood, local grocery stores, vet offices, pet stores, and community centers. 

Post On Social Media

Social media platforms can be a great tool to share pictures and information about your missing pet. Use your own personal accounts across various platforms to share photos and details about your pet. Through shares and comments, the news of your lost furry friend will likely spread, which will increase the chance of someone helping them find their way home. You can also use platforms such as Straydar and NextDoor, which have a community of highly engaged users who can help you in your search. 

Call Local Animal Control and Shelters

File a lost pet report with shelters and rescue organizations as soon as you notice your friend has gone missing. Once the report is filed, try to visit local animal shelters daily if possible.  

What To Do If Your Small Animal Goes Missing In Your Home

If you keep your small creature in a tank or cage inside your house, your pet likely hasn’t gone too far. Be sure to check in the little nooks and crannies in the room you keep them in — your furry friend could just be playing hide and seek!

If you lose your animal outside, it’s very possible they’re hiding under a bush or tucked away in another shady area. While searching, try placing tempting pieces of food into visible, open spaces. Small animals tend to have a great sense of smell and might make an appearance for a bite to eat. If you still can’t find your missing pet, start following the steps outlined above to ensure they get back home safely. 

Knowing what to do when your dog or other beloved pet gets lost is crucial to helping them find their way home. 

Hopefully, you never have to experience a pet running away or getting lost, but it’s always important to educate yourself on the preventative measures and steps to take so you can be better prepared to jump into action as quickly as possible. 

Know the Signs of Heat Stroke in Your Pet, How to Avoid, and Steps of Recovery

Preventing and Recognizing Heat Stroke in Your Pets

Heat stroke, or hyperthermia, is a real danger for pets and people.
Hyperthermia occurs when your pet’s body temperature rises dangerously
above normal, putting them at risk for multiple organ failure or death.
Unlike humans, who have sweat glands all over our bodies, cats and dogs
have very few sweat glands – they’re located in places such as their feet and
noses. As summer rolls around and temperatures continue to rise, you’ll
notice your pets panting more to regulate their body heat.

Since our beloved pets are more susceptible to heat stroke than us, we need
to be aware of the signs and symptoms so we can keep our furry friends safe.
Early recognition, and treatment of heat stroke can improve your pet’s
chances of making a quick recovery. Symptoms of heat stroke in pets include:

  • Excessive panting
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive drooling
  • Reddened gums
  • Reduced or no urine production
  • Rapid/irregular heart rate
  • Vomiting blood/black, tarry stools
  • Diarrhea
  • Changes in mental status (i.e., confusion and dizziness)
  • Seizures/muscle tremors
  • Wobbly, uncoordinated/drunken gait or movement
  • Unconsciousness/Cardiopulmonary Arrest (heart and breathing stop)

Seek Treatment for A Full Recovery

At the first sign of overheating, it’s essential to take steps to cool your pet
down gradually. Do NOT use ice or frigid water as it can cause shock and
other undesirable reactions. Here are some measures to take if you suspect
your animal is suffering from heat stroke:
1. Remove your animal from the heat immediately. Take your animal
inside or find some shade to allow them to cool off.

2. Spray your pet with cool water or wrap them in cold, wet towels and
use a fan for convection cooling.

3. Evaporative cooling can also be used by swabbing isopropyl alcohol on
foot pads, groin and under the forelegs.

4. MOST importantly, seek veterinary care and guidance as soon as
possible!

Even if your furry friend seems to be feeling better and starts acting normal
again, it is still crucial to take your pet to the nearest emergency veterinary
clinic. Vets will be able to determine the severity of the heat stroke and
provide the appropriate medical treatment. This can include medication,
cooling procedures, supplemental oxygen, and blood tests. Additional
monitoring may be required to ensure your beloved pet is back in tip-top
health.

Unfortunately, since our pets can’t communicate their exact feelings to us, we
need to be alert and aware of all of the signs of heat stroke in dogs and cats.
In case of an emergency, we need to be knowledgeable about the steps to
take for pet heat stroke recovery. Once we educate ourselves on the
symptoms, we can have a fun and safe summer with our furry companions.

 

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!