Category Archives: Senior Pet Care

Tips and Tricks for Pet Ear Cleaning

The special anatomy of cat and dog ears can create certain challenges. Infection and inflammation are common ailments that affect multiple parts of the ear, but injury can also occur. All problems in and around the ear have the potential for intense discomfort and should be properly addressed. Pet ear cleaning is just one way to promote overall health of this part of the body, and we’ve got some tips to help you get started!

A Closer Look

The outer ear is called the pinna. Dog breeds with long, floppy ears, those with a lot of hair around the ear, and swimmers are more prone to suffering ear infections. The pinna is also susceptible to bites, scratches, or abrasions.

The middle ear contains the fragile eardrum (tympanic membrane), small bones, an air-filled cavity, and a thin tube that leads to the back of the mouth.

The inner ear contains nerves and is comprised of the centers for hearing and balance. It also connects to the brain.

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Pet Nutritional Supplements: Necessary or Needless?

Many Americans take a multivitamin to supplement their diet, fish oil for heart health, or a joint supplement to quell arthritis pains. This habit of utilizing supplements to support overall health and well-being has crossed over into the world of pet products as well.

As you peruse pet-related blogs, online animal care communities, and the aisles of the pet store you may start to wonder whether you need to or should jump on the bandwagon. Are pet nutritional supplements necessary? Are they safe? How do you choose? Your friends at West Park Animal Hospital have the scoop!

What’s in a Supplement?

A supplement is something that completes or enhances something else (in this case, your pet’s diet). With nearly one-third of dog owners and one-fifth of cat owners purchasing one for their pet, it is important to understand why and how you might choose one.

Some pet nutritional supplements are more common than others. A few of the more commonly administered include:

Glucosamine/chondroitin — These ingredients are typically used to support overall joint health and ameliorate the effects of arthritis.

Fish oil — The long chain fatty acids in fish oil supplements have been shown to have some anti-inflammatory effects that may be helpful in the treatment of heart, skin, kidney, and joint disease when delivered in the correct doses.

Turmeric — Touted for its anti-inflammatory effects for arthritis patients and cancer-controlling properties, this herb has begun to make an appearance in the veterinary world.

Probiotics — Helping to support a healthy digestive tract can be important to overall health and immune function. Supplementing the gut with healthy bacteria has some obvious benefits

Hairball remediesSome cats routinely regurgitate hairballs, and many feline caretakers reach for these supplements designed to help hair pass more easily through the digestive tract.

When selecting nutritional supplements, it’s important to know the potential side effects of what you’re buying.Your pet depends on you in order to receive the best care possible.

Purchasing human fish oil capsules containing toxic Xylitol, not being aware of the fact that glucosamine can alter blood sugar metabolism, or being oblivious to turmeric’s anticoagulant properties can potentially cause great harm. Populating your pet’s gut with less-than helpful human bacteria doesn’t really reap any benefits, and trying to fix your cat’s inflammatory bowel disease with petroleum based hairball products could delay a proper diagnosis.

The Bottom Line About Pet Nutritional Supplements

Safety, efficacy, and quality control are huge concerns when it comes to pet nutritional supplements. Because they are not subject to the same FDA regulations as veterinary drugs, it can be difficult to know if what you are purchasing is pure.

This also means that just about any one can write just about anything about them. It can be next to impossible to sort fact from fiction.

As veterinarians and scientists, we stand behind evidence-based medicine and make our supplement recommendations based on what research is available to us. It is important to “first do no harm”, and we must recognize that supplements can have many different effects on the body.

When administering supplements to your pet, it is important to work with our veterinary team in order to select one. Our expertise can help with:

  • Deciding what, if any, supplements may be helpful for your pet
  • Arriving at correct and efficacious dose
  • Selecting a product with good quality control practices
  • Navigating any potential interactions with other medications or conflicts with existing health problems
  • Troubleshooting potential side effects
  • Avoiding possible toxicities

For some animals pet nutritional supplements can bring benefits to overall health. It is important, however, to assess their need and choose one in concert with animal health professionals.

If you have questions about supplements for your pet, call us today so that we can discuss the matter further. Adding supplements can have positive effects on your pet’s health, but only if done correctly and safely.

Managing Pain with Glucosamine for Pets

Glucosamine for Pets can help senior pet pain

Orthopedic problems are an incredibly common source of pain in pets, and managing these issues often requires a multi-pronged approach. One of the foundations in orthopedic pet pain management at West Park Animal Hospital often includes a joint support supplement. Glucosamine for pets can play a central role in helping our patients feel better.

What is Glucosamine?

Osteoarthritis is a progressive disease that results in degeneration of the joints over time. It is a common problem in our pets, with over 20% of the dog population being affected. The causes include:

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Food for Life: Why a Pet’s Life Stage is an Important Factor in Nutrition

Most of us would agree that good nutrition is the cornerstone of lifelong health, and the quality and quantity of the food we choose can make a significant impact on overall wellbeing and vitality. This is very true for our pets, whether we’re talking about an energetic puppy or kitten or a senior pet who has health issues that can be helped with a specific diet.

Your pet’s life stage is one of the most important factors in so many aspects of wellness, and choosing the right food based on this information is critical. Let’s take a closer look at why finding the proper diet is so important.

Life Stage-Centric Nutrition

Walk down any aisle with pet food and you’ll quickly notice whether an item is for an adult, a puppy/kitten, or a senior pet. There are even products for in-between stages and specifications based on activity level, breed, and so forth. Continue reading

The Golden Years: End of Life Care for Exotic Pets

Aging happens no matter if you are a human, dog, or hamster. At West Park Animal Hospital, we know that your pocket pet deserves the best during their golden years, just as much as any dog or cat. End of life care for exotic pets is important, too, and we are here to help your senior pet live with dignity and comfort.

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Help! My Pet Broke a Tooth!

Dogs and cats explore the world with their mouths, and chewing, biting, gnawing, and chomping are parts of that exploration. It probably comes as no surprise that chipped and broken teeth are common occurrences among pets that many veterinarians see on a weekly basis.

Besides being unsightly, a broken tooth can spell big trouble for a pet. If the pulp (internal blood supply of the tooth) is exposed, bacteria can gain access to the root, leading to tooth and bone loss. Systemic infection throughout the body may result as the bacteria leak from the root into the bloodstream.

What would you do if your pet broke a tooth? Call your friendly team at West Park Animal Hospital, of course!

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Your Lumpy, Bumpy Pet: All About Lipomas in Pets

It’s a common scenario; you’re peacefully brushing your pet, when you are startled to discover a soft lump under his or her skin. Your mind races, wondering what the lump could be and what could have caused it. Should you call the vet immediately, or is this simply a natural part of the aging process?

Many pets develop non-cancerous growths as they age called lipomas. While lipomas in pets are normal and usually benign, pet owners and veterinarians should monitor their growth over time, and intervene if needed.

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