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Silver Muzzles and Golden Years

 A baby’s first birthday is a bittersweet milestone for parents because it’s hard to believe how much their son or daughter changed in just a year. When compared with the lifespan of our pets, it’s important to note that our pets age more quickly than we do. Although our pets reach their “golden years” at varying times based on breed, size and species, at Westgate Pet Clinic  we recommend bi-annual preventive care exams starting when your pet reaches his senior years. Because of pet’s accelerated aging, new health concerns can appear in very subtle ways, and early detection is the key to keeping your pet as healthy as possible.

 

Most Common Health Conditions of Older Pets

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Dogs and cats experience many of the same age-related health conditions that people do. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, the most prevalent ones include:

 

Cancer: Cancer is the number one killer of both dogs and cats over age 10, with mast cell tumors most common in dogs and leukemia in cats. Some signs that your older pet could have cancer include slow-healing wounds, behavior changes, weight loss, fatigue, and lack of appetite.

 

Kidney disease: Healthy kidneys are essential for proper waste elimination. When the kidneys become diseased, your pet’s urine and feces remain trapped inside her body. This can cause significant pain, vomiting, weight loss, incontinence, and greater thirst.

 

Diabetes: Pets are becoming just as inactive and obese as people are. In fact, more than half of dogs and cats in the United States are overweight or obese. This increases the risk of diabetes, but a pet doesn’t have to weigh too much to develop the disease. Some signs to look for include increased thirst, increased urination, irritability, fatigue, weight loss, and vision disturbances.

 

Arthritis: Your pet can develop arthritis when cartilage, which acts as a cushioning between bones, starts to wear down. This results in the bones rubbing together and causing pain. You may notice that your dog or cat uses some limbs at the exclusion of others, walks with a stiff gait, seems reluctant to jump, or vocalizes loudly when you pick him up.

 

Senility: Mild cognitive impairment is so common in the senior years that approximately half of all dogs and cats show some signs of it. You may notice a change in personality or a regression in previously learned skills. It’s important to remain patient and not punish your pet for something she can’t control.

 

Maximize Your Pet’s Health in the Senior Years

 

Unlike people who can voice their discomfort, animals have a natural tendency to hide when they feel sick or in pain. Regular preventive care is essential because it allows us to detect health issues you could easily miss. Between appointments, you can improve your pet’s quality of life with joint medication, supplements, toys to keep cognition sharp, and many other supplies from our online store. Please don’t hesitate to contact us at (612) 925-1121 with questions about senior pet care or to schedule an appointment.

 

Image Credit:

Credit: jirousova/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

 

Halloween Can Be a Scary Holiday for Pets

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As much as you and your children might enjoy Halloween, this particular holiday can be a stressful one for pets. They don’t understand why you have decorations and carved pumpkins with candles in them around the house and naturally feel curious enough to investigate. Your dog or cat may end up swallowing something inedible or even starting a fire by knocking over a candle. These are just two of several Halloween safety concerns to keep in mind. Westgate Pet Clinic wants to provide the following safety tips to help keep your pets safe and happy during the month of October.

 

Don’t Share Your Candy

If anyone breaks out the treats before Halloween, instruct them not to share with the family pet regardless of how much he stares at them with sad eyes. Chocolate is especially problematic for pets because it can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and other symptoms associated with gastric distress. The artificial sweetener Xylitol may cause similar problems. If you really want to give your pet a treat, order something especially created for pets from our online store.

 

Pets Should Remain Indoors

The doorbell ringing and seeing groups of excited children at the door can be too much for your pet to handle. He may try to slip out the door or even become aggressive. To avoid these issues, plan to keep your dog or cat in an area of the house where you can close the door, and reduce noise and anxiety causing stimuli.  Be sure to provide his food, bedding, and toys while he stays in the room and check in frequently to make sure he’s okay. You can even buy food puzzles (which lengthen time your pet engages with his food) or toys from our online store to help pass the time.

 

Another reason pets should stay inside is that October 31 tends to bring out people who like to play pranks or are deliberately cruel to animals. Due to unfounded superstitions about them, this is especially true of black cats. The problem is so widespread that many animal shelters will not allow people to adopt a black cat on or near Halloween.

 

How to Choose a Safe Costume

Some stores sell such adorable Halloween costumes for pets that it can be hard to resist buying one. If you choose to dress up your dog or cat, be sure you’re always nearby to supervise. Ensure he has no breathing obstructions and can see clearly. Very importantly, watch him carefully for signs of irritation, discomfort or fear which may indicate that he is probably not enjoying being dressed up for the event. Also remember that your pet might chew on the costume and end up swallowing a piece of it. A close eye on your pet’s environment is definitely a “must” for Halloween.

 

Should you experience an emergency with your pet, call us at (612) 925-1121. If it is after hours, you’ll be directed for the appropriate number to call.  Happy Halloween from the staff of Westgate Pet Clinic!

 

 

Image credit:
JasonOndreicka / Stock / Getty Images Plus

Our Mission:

We provide the quality care our clients expect and their pets deserve, by relying on the expertise and
compassion of each team member.

 
 
 

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Westgate Pet Clinic
4345 France Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55410
Directions to Our Clinic
(612)925-1121
(612)925-6297 Fax
(612)568-1405 Pharmacy

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