As they age, our four-legged loved-ones need additional attention and care to make sure that they are happy and comfortable during their senior years. Most pets tend to slow down some as they age, however age is not a disease… but diseases occur more commonly with age.
What to be on the look-out for
Symptoms of disease in pets can be subtle and often can go unnoticed. The following are symptoms that every pet parent should be on the look-out for in their senior pets:
- Weight loss, especially in the face of a good appetite
- Increased thirst and urinary frequency
- Decreased appetite
- Poor grooming habits
- Dull, dry, unkempt haircoat
- Being slow to rise
- Reluctance to climb stairs
- Reduced energy / activity level
- Confusion / behavior changes
Common medical issues
Common medical issues that occur in our pets as they age include arthritis, thyroid disease, kidney disease, heart disease, decreased hearing, and cognitive dysfunction. As previously mentioned, symptoms can be subtle and overlooked during busy daily life at home. This is why having wellness examinations at least every 6 months by your veterinarian is exceptionally important for our older pets.
What can you do?
In addition to biannual wellness examinations, regular screening lab work is vital to help diagnose illness early on the disease process. Early intervention is key to stop or slow down disease, as well as to improve your pet’s quality of life and longevity. We recommend annual blood work screening including chemistry profiles, complete blood counts (CBC), thyroid levels, and urinalysis. Other diagnostic testing that can be important are x-rays, eye pressure checks, and ultrasound.
Have you ever wondered, “Why should I vaccinate my pet?” Administration of appropriate vaccinations to our canine and feline family members is of vital importance to your pet’s health. As it is in people, vaccination helps to reduce possibility of infection, reduces symptomatic disease, decreases spread of disease through a community, and increases the likelihood of a longer & healthier life. Depending on disease prevalence, climate, elevation, and other environmental factors, your veterinarian will recommend certain vaccinations for your pets. At Hampton Veterinary Hospital in Hampton, NH, we recommend the following vaccinations:
Due to the fact that Rabies is of public health concern for humans, cats, and dogs, Rabies vaccination is required for ALL PETS in the state of New Hampshire (and all other U.S. states). There is no exception to this, regardless of whether or not your cat goes outdoors. Bats, rodents, and other mammals with Rabies could enter your home and infect your pet… and then possibly you. Hampton Veterinary Hospital vaccinates our feline patients yearly against Rabies. Please contact your veterinarian if you are unsure as to whether or not your cat is up to date on their Rabies vaccination.
FVRCP/ Feline Distemper (Rhinotracheitis, Calcivirus and Panleukopenia)
This is a combination vaccine against a number of common viruses that cats can be exposed to. We recommend FVRCP to be up to date on all cats because many of these viruses are quite hardy in the environment; so we can inadvertently bring one of them into our home on our clothing, shoes, bags, etc. Once a kitten has had their series of FVRCP vaccinations, as adults we vaccinate cats with this vaccine every 3 years.
FELV/ Feline Leukemia Virus
This is a deadly virus that has no cure. Once a cat becomes infected with FeLV it will significantly shorten their life span (< 3 years). We recommend vaccinating all kittens when they are younger, just in case they ‘demand’ to go outdoors despite good intentions of keeping them inside. However, we do not usually recommend vaccinating adult cats who are indoor-only, as this is not a hardy virus where they can only become infected through direct contact with an infected cat.
(see above) — Puppies are vaccinated once between 12 and 16 weeks of age, per law, and this first vaccine is protective for 1 year. Their subsequent vaccinations are then given every 3 years (per NH state law).
DHPP/ Canine Distemper (Distemper, Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Parainfluenza)
This is a combination vaccine against a number of common viruses that dogs can be exposed to. We recommend DHPP to be up to date on all dogs regardless of lifestyle. Once a puppy has had their series of DHPP vaccinations, as adults we vaccinate dogs every 3 years. This vaccine is usually required to be admitted to boarding kennels, doggie-daycare facilities, and grooming parlors.
Bordetella/ Kennel Cough
Bordetella is a highly contagious upper respiratory bacterium, and it is the most common cause of “Kennel Cough”. Since Bordetella is so contagious between dogs it is required to be admitted to boarding kennels, doggie-daycare facilities, and grooming parlors. We recommend it for all of our canine patients because it can be transmitted during visits to the beach, dog parks, walking on the street, and even when coming to a veterinary office. There are different ways this vaccine can be administered, but we prefer to use the more common intra-nasal route.
Lyme disease is HIGHLY prevalent in New England, as well as most other areas around the United States. It is a very difficult disease to treat in both humans and dogs, but at least with dogs we have a number of ways to proactively prevent Lyme disease. Yearly lyme vaccination is critical to help reduce the likelihood that your dog will become infected with and develop clinical Lyme disease. (Year-round administration of a safe and effective flea and tick preventative, such as every 12 week prescription Bravecto, is also key here.) The Lyme vaccine includes a series of two vaccinations, followed by yearly vaccination in adult dogs. For best protection, if this vaccine is not kept up-to-date, you may have to re-start the initial vaccine series if it is overdue by a few months.
This is a bacterium that is very prevalent in New England, however it is not as easy to identify as Lyme disease. Many different types of mammals and birds can harbor and transmit Leptospirosis from their urine to groundwater or the soil. All of our dogs drink out of various puddles, ponds, rivers, lakes, & streams — so they are all potentially at risk for becoming infected with Leptospirosis. This is a disease that at minimum causes diarrhea… but it can also cause both liver and/or kidney disease in dogs. If dogs become infected and do not receive appropriate care, they can die from Leptospirosis. People can also become infected with Leptospirosis and it is possible that a person can get Leptospirosis from their infected dog. The CDC reports about 100-150 people on average per year become infected with this disease. The good news here for our dogs is that we have highly effective vaccinations against Leptospirosis. The Lepto vaccine series includes a series of two vaccinations, followed by yearly vaccination in adult dogs. For best protection, if this vaccine is not kept up-to-date, you may have to re-start the initial vaccine series if it is overdue by a few months.
CIV/ Canine Influenza Virus
There are two different strains of CIV that have been identified in the United States in the past 10 years. Due to the fact that dogs have no natural immunity to either CIV strain, direct exposure to dogs with this upper respiratory virus will cause infection. Symptoms of CIV infection vary from a simple cough to severe illness & death. Up to 10% of non-vaccinated dogs that become infected with CIV have died in reported outbreaks. To date there have been no reported cases of CIV in New Hampshire; however, experts feel that it is only a matter of time until we see CIV here as well. Hampton Veterinary Hospital strongly recommends vaccination against CIV in dogs who are frequently around a number of different dogs (such as our personal pets who come to work with us every day), show dogs, agility dogs, and dogs who travel often with their families. If you frequently board your dog at any boarding facility (including ours), take them to doggie-daycare, dog parks, or grooming parlors you may want to talk to your veterinarian about vaccinating your dog against CIV.
Just as in people, there are potential risks for vaccine reactions in dogs & cats. However we see far less than 1% of our veterinary patients develop vaccine reactions. The high level of protection that vaccinations provide to our four-legged loved ones well out-weighs the low possibility of side effects. Our goal at Hampton Veterinary Hospital is to keep your pets happy & healthy as long as possible — routine vaccination is a vital way we help to achieve this for you and your family.
We all know that dental care for ourselves and our children is important. We brush at least two times a day, floss, and see our dentist twice a year for x-rays and a cleaning. But what would you say if we told you that pet dental care is just as important?
It’s true! Pets need healthy teeth and gums as much as we do, both for oral health and overall general health. If you never brushed or saw a dentist, you begin to get the picture of what skipping this preventive care can do. Regular preventive pet dental care can allow us to catch small problems before they become big, painful, and expensive issues.Continue…
Most of us have an intrinsic understanding of preventive care. We attempt to eat our fruits and vegetables, try to get enough exercise, and allow ourselves to be poked and prodded by our physicians and dentists, all in the name of good health.
Preventive care is just as important for the health and longevity of our pets. Regular physical examinations are one of the best investments you can make when it comes to pet wellness, and one that will have a huge impact on their lifelong health.
At Hampton Veterinary Hospital we recommend biannual wellness examinations for all of our patients, because pets age much faster than we do. They also hide illness and other medical issues from us at home that can be identified by your veterinarian on examination. Continue…