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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 to keep your pets safe around wild animals

What to do when you encounter a wild animal with your pet

When living in Arizona, encountering a wild animal with your pet isn’t an uncommon phenomenon. Depending on where you live in the Valley, your pet may be more or less likely to share the backyard with many different guests during the fall season. While these wild animals may look cute and tame, they can often pose a threat to your domesticated pet if they feel threatened. Here are a few tips for pet owners to ensure that both your animal and those in the wild are safe from harm.

Hiking safety 

It can be tempting to let your dog off-leash when hiking in wooded or desert areas, but this can be dangerous. When roaming freely, you never know what your pet may confront or be exposed to if the opportunity arises. Without the restraint of a leash, dogs encountering a wild animal for the first time can be aggressive and fearless. Unfortunately for Fido, these animals often have pokey quills, strong hooves, fangs, or other defense mechanisms. Giving wild animals enough space – think of it as a buffer zone – is another way to reduce you and your pet’s risk of injury. Keeping your dog on a leash ensures that they won’t run off and potentially spook an animal.

  • If you want to take more than one of your pets on a hike, bring another person along! Attempting to manage more than one pet alone while hiking through the desert can be challenging, so having an extra set of hands can help you act in an emergency, and of course, keep you and your pets as safe as possible.

Backyard safety

Your backyard may seem like a safe place for your pets to roam about, but there are still a few things you should keep in mind when it comes to wild animal safety.

  • No food left behind. Wild animals are curious, especially if there’s food involved! Make sure to take food bowls back into the house after mealtime, and minimize human clutter that could potentially attract unwanted wild animals to your backyard.
  • Scoop the poop. Pet waste is another drawing factor that piques the interest of animals near and far — picking up after your pet keeps your yard clean and free of wild visitors.
  • Pet supervision. Wild animals are most likely to be in the neighborhood in the early morning and late at night. Accompanying your pet outdoors during these times is a great safety measure to reduce the chance of harm coming to your animal. If you do happen to confront an animal, try to  stay as calm as possible, make yourself appear as big as possible, and make loud noises to deter the animal from approaching.

What to do if your pet is injured 

Most wild animals are more afraid of you than you are of them; and while the odds of your pet getting hurt by a wild animal are relatively slim, it absolutely can happen! In the event that your animal is injured by a wild animal, it is essential to be cautious. Pain and fear can make even the tamest pet act aggressive and snappy. First, ensure that the danger/threat has passed. Second, assess the injury carefully while limiting contact with your pet in order not to aggravate the wound or pain. Third, before moving your pet find a veterinary location near you immediately (if possible) and call to notify the staff you will be bringing the injured pet to the clinic. Never delay in obtaining treatment for your pet.

Also, remember to remain as calm as possible in order to help reassure your pet that they are safe, and that you are there to care for them.

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.