It’s A Dog’s Life
It seems that pets these days are living longer than ever thanks to advances in veterinary medicine and investment in care from animal owners. It is not unusual to see a dog that is in their teen years still active and relatively healthy. I say relatively because with age comes a few bumps in the road (so to speak). There are a variety of management techniques that can help families with older pets live an awesome quality of life through their golden years. Because that is what we all really want for our animal companions, isn’t it? We want them to have full and happy lives for the short time that they are with us.
1. Watch Their Weight!
Older dogs generally move less and have a slower metabolism than when they were younger. This means that they can pack on the pounds quickly. This can start a vicious cycle of gaining weight and then not moving well which leads to more weight gain and so on. Activity is important to weight management but the key to weight loss is controlling calories. Lean body condition is very important to general health, especially if there are mobility issues. With that thought in mind, make sure that the food that your geriatric companion is eating is of good quality, easy to digest, and not filled with empty calories from endless treats. Just like with humans, a healthy diet is important for basic wellness and a strong immune system.
2. Keep Them Moving.
Daily, regular exercise is important for mental stimulation as well as muscle strength. Muscle loss and hind end weakness are a common issue on our older pets. Give your animal companion a reason to get up and moving each day because once they go down (or don’t get up), things can progress quickly in a direction that we don’t want to go.
One option to consider is aqua therapy. Both the underwater treadmill and pool are great for holding on to muscle mass and for getting stiff joints moving again. Sessions every one to two weeks can set a healthy foundation for better walks at home. Remember the old saying, “A body in motion stays in motion”. Continue…
Adding a new pet to your family can be a wonderful and confusing experience for many people. Here you have this squirming bundle of furry joy already stealing your heart one kiss or snuggle at a time but then comes the not-so-fun decisions of health care and vaccines. What food should they eat? How should I potty train them? What about doggie school? What the heck is that vaccine that they need? Distemper something or another. Does this have to do with their temperament? Someone explained it to me once but all I heard was blah, blah, blah..your dog needs them every so often…make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Well, here is a basic rundown of our hospital’s core canine vaccine, the distemper combination ( DHPP or DHPPL depending on your pet’s needs). This basic but important vaccine is started at 8 weeks of age and boosted every 3-4 weeks until 16-20 weeks old. The vaccines are given in a series because a puppy’s immune system is ever changing and some early vaccines are not completely protective thanks to their mother’s antibodies. This is why a young dog who has had one vaccine can still become infected with diseases such as parvovirus. As an adult, the distemper combination is boosted at 12 months old and then every 3 years. There are other vaccines available such as the rabies vaccine (required by law), kennel cough, canine flu, and lyme , but we are not going to focus on those today. Continue…
1. Why do I have to get my puppies and kittens a series of vaccines instead of just one?
When puppies and kittens are born, they are able to share some of their mother’s antibody protection against diseases such as parvo virus and distemper through nursing milk. As time goes on (over the next few weeks to months from birth), the young pet’s own immune response kicks in and the mother’s protection decreases. A series of two vaccines are needed at any time a vaccine is started(except for the Rabies vaccine) to formulate a strong immune response, but the question is- When should those vaccines be given? If given at too young of an age, the mother’s immunity blocks the vaccines from being effective. If given too late, there is a risk of the mother’s protection being too weak or gone and the pet is exposed to a virus before the immune protection benefit of the vaccine. To manage this immune delemma, we vaccinate puppies and kittens every 3-4 weeks starting at 8 weeks of age until 16-20 weeks old.
Do you have a cat or dog that is not a youngster but never vaccinated? They still need a set of two vaccines 3-4 weeks apart to be protected (again, the Rabies vaccine is a single booster and an exception to this rule). Some vaccines last 6 months, some are good for 3 years. It is up to your veterinarian to set a schedule of reminders so that you can keep track of your pet’s preventive needs.