Posts Tagged ‘senior dogs’

Way to Go AVMA!

Sunday, January 15th, 2012

The Executive Board of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recently approved the content of the following brand new, hot-off-the-press pet ownership guidelines. Have a look and see what you think.

Photo Credit: Elisabeth Sherman

Guidelines for Responsible Pet Ownership

Owning a pet is a privilege and should result in a mutually beneficial relationship. However, the benefits of pet ownership come with obligations.

Responsible pet ownership includes:

• Committing to the relationship for the life of the pet(s).

• Avoiding impulsive decisions about obtaining pet(s), and carefully selecting pet(s) suited to your home and lifestyle.

• Recognizing that ownership of pet(s) requires an investment of time and money.

• Keeping only the type and number of pets for which an appropriate and safe environment can be provided, including adequate and appropriate food, water, shelter, health care and companionship.

• Ensuring pets are properly identified (i.e., tags, microchips, or tattoos) and that registration information in associated databases is kept up-to-date.

•Adherence to local ordinances, including licensing and leash requirements.

• Controlling pet(s) reproduction through managed breeding, containment, or spay/neuter, thereby helping to address animal control and overpopulation problems.

• Establishing and maintaining a veterinarian-client-patient relationship.

• Providing preventive (e.g., vaccinations, parasite control) and therapeutic health care for the life of the pet(s) in consultation with, and as recommended by, its veterinarian.

• Socialization and appropriate training for pet(s), which facilitates their well-being and the well-being of other animals and people.

• Preventing pet(s) from negatively impacting other people, animals and the environment, including proper waste disposal, noise control, and not allowing pet(s) to stray or become feral.

• Providing exercise and mental stimulation appropriate to the pet(s)’ age, breed, and health status.

• Advance preparation to ensure the pet(s)’ well-being in the case of an emergency or disaster, including assembling an evacuation kit.

• Making alternative arrangements if caring for the pet is no longer possible.

• Recognizing declines in the pet(s) quality of life and making decisions in consultation with a veterinarian regarding appropriate end-of-life care (e.g., palliative care, hospice, euthanasia).

“AMEN!” is my response to these guidelines and kudos to the AVMA for issuing them forth to the public. Now, if only they were rules rather than mere guidelines! With all due respect to the AVMA, I would add one more item to their guidelines as a means of working towards the extinction of puppy mills. That item would be, “Never, ever purchase a puppy from a pet store or online site and sight unseen.”

What do you think of these AVMA guidelines for responsible pet ownership? Do you have any suggested additions for the AVMA to consider?

Best wishes for a happy new year,

Nancy Kay, DVM

Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Author of Your Dog’s Best Health: A Dozen Reasonable Things to Expect From Your Vet
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health.   There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot and Your Dog’s Best Health are available at www.speakingforspot.com, Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

 

Age is Just a Number

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

When my clients make decisions on behalf of their senior dogs and cats, they routinely factor in their pet’s age.  I often hear statements such as, “I would pursue a diagnosis if only she weren’t so old.” and “I would treat him if only he were younger.”  When my clients voice such “senior objections” I gently encourage them to consider the situation a bit more objectively by considering their pet’s functional age rather than their chronological age.  For example, it might be far safer for me to anesthetize the vigorous, playful thirteen-year-old Labrador with normal liver and kidney function I evaluated on Monday compared to the debilitated eleven-year-old Labrador with impaired kidney function I examined on Tuesday. Functionally speaking, the thirteen-year-old is, by far, the younger of the two.  When making decisions, savvy medical advocates evaluate the whole package- spryness, organ function, overall comfort, joie de vivre- rather than considering age alone.  Just because a dog or cat is, by definition, a senior citizen doesn’t mean their body is functioning like that of a senior citizen.

I thoroughly enjoyed explaining this point on NPR’s popular show, Fresh Air With Terry Gross. “Terry, you and I could both be 80 year old women in need of knee replacement surgery.  You might be a terrific candidate for surgery, whereas I might be a horrible candidate!”

When making medical decisions, my clients frequently ask about their pet’s life expectancy. Life expectancies for cats and dogs of varying breeds are nothing more than averages.  This means some individuals will never reach “average” and others will far exceed it. 

Here’s the bottom line. If you have a happy, lively, interactive, and agile senior dog or cat on your hands, throw those age-related numbers and averages out the window.  Rather, I encourage you to observe your pet’s overall quality of life, share some nose-to-nose time with your best buddy, look deep into those beautiful eyes, and make important medical decisions based on what’s truly important rather than simply a number.  Have you ever needed to be a medical advocate for a senior pet?  If so, please share your story.

Best wishes for good health,         

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook         

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.

L.O.V.E. for Health

Sunday, November 21st, 2010

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified animal behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet products industry, and the award winning author of 23 pet care books and thousands of articles and columns. She hosts Pet Peeves radio at PetLifeRadio.com, and is the behavior contributor at cats.About.com, and publishes a free Pet Peeves newsletter available from www.shojai.com. Amy lives in N. Texas with a Frisbee-loving German shepherd named Magic and a crotchety old-lady Siamese wannabe called Seren.   I’m delighted to present her guest post and to participate in her Golden Moments Senior Pet Blog Tour.

Dr. Nancy Kay

Excerpted from

COMPLETE CARE for YOUR AGING DOG

CHAPTER 3—L.O.V.E. for HEALTH           

It is important to be tuned in to your pet’s needs at any age, but vital when she becomes a senior citizen. . . .A good way to remember the special needs of your older dog is to use the acronym L.O.V.E. That stands for Listen With Your Heart; Observe For Changes; Visit the Veterinarian; and Enrich The Environment.

Visit the Veterinarian: Well-Pet Exams

            An annual checkup for your dog is a good idea whatever her age. In the past, annual vaccinations were recommended, and that was a good reminder to get a physical examination at the same time. More recent studies indicate that annual vaccines may not be necessary. However, since dogs age so much more quickly than people do, an annual physical—or “well-pet” exam—is essential to ensure that she maintains good health.

            The well-pet exam becomes even more important for aging dogs, because they have fewer reserves and can become ill literally overnight. Each year, mature dogs age the equivalent of about seven human years, so waiting 12 months between checkups leaves them at risk for major health changes. A twice-yearly visit for dogs over the age of eight makes more sense.          That’s the equivalent to a middle-aged person getting a physical about every three years, says Dr. Tranquilli, a professor of veterinary anesthesia and pain management at the University of Illinois. “It makes all the sense in the world to get more aggressive with checkups, and for the veterinarian to ask appropriate questions with regard to overall behavior changes,” he says.

            A veterinarian has a more difficult time diagnosing problems if he only sees the pet when she’s sick and has no way to compare to well-pet behavior, especially when looking for subtle disease. “I want to see the pet every year so I’ve seen him when he’s healthy,” says Steven L. Marks, DVM, a clinical associate professor of critical care at North Carolina State University. “If something changes, I want to pick it up early.”

            A complete physical should include an oral exam, says Bill Gengler, DVM, a veterinary dentist at the University of Wisconsin. “You may not be able to do an in-depth exam until the animal’s asleep, but at least you can advise the owner that yes, there’s halitosis; yes, there’s gingivitis; and there’s calculus [tartar] on the teeth so we need to get it off.”

            The veterinarian will listen to the dog’s heart and lungs, check her eyes, ears and teeth, exam her for parasites, and make a note of any behavior changes you might have noticed that could indicate a problem.

            “As these animals get older, one starts looking at their liver, their intestinal track, their kidneys, at their heart, and various body systems, looking for those organs that could be failing,” says Johnny Hoskins, DVM, an internist and specialist in aging pets. “The number one cause of death in older dogs is cancer.” Looking at the outside of the dog and listening to her breathing and heart won’t detect organ failures or cancer. Geriatric screening tests help veterinarians go beyond the hands-on exam and take a look at the dog from the inside out.  

Complete Care for Your Aging Dog is a DWAA Maxwell Award Winner, and the 2010 Amazon Kindle Edition has been revised/updated with “hot links” to the experts cited in the book. Amy Shojai, CABC is the award-winning author of 23 dog and cat care and behavior books, and can be reached at her website http://www.shojai.com

Please visit the remaining blog stops on the GOLDEN MOMENTS SENIOR PET BLOG TOUR

NOVEMBER 23rd   Aging Dog/Cat articles on pet introductions, health benefits, and more at  www.cats.About.com

NOVEMBER 27th telephone interview www.PetHobbyist.com.

_____________________________________________________

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of  Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Become a Fan of Speaking for Spot on Facebook 

Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller. 

Free Christmas or Chanukah gift wrap with books purchased between now and December 25th (www.speakingforspot.com/purchase.html).