Caring for your Senior Pet

For many pet lovers, watching our companions grow older is a comforting, rewarding experience. Hard to believe the same bundle of energy tearing around the yard so many years ago is now the calm and kind old friend curled at our feet.

Old age itself is not a disease but we are aware that certain diseases can be age related. Older pets need more extensive examinations, more often. This is why we recommend having senior check-ups for your older pets.

A properly formulated diet will have a significant impact on the health of a senior pet and our health care teams are trained to advise you on the best nutrition for your companion.

The approach to your senior pet is that of a pet care partnership combining your observations at home with an examination. Typically most of the diseases we are keeping an eye out for in senior pets are controllable with simple diet changes and/or medications.

 

What to look out for

As your pet's owner, you are in the best position to look out for the early warning signs of aging and age related diseases. Here are some of the signs that can indicate change and require action:

  • Change in appetite
  • Discomfort on rising or after exercise
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Loss of housetraining6737182_s
  • Excessive drinking and/or urination
  • Bad breath, plaque, or bleeding gums
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Persistent cough
  • Change in sleep patterns
  • Appearance of lumps and bumps

 

What we can do for your pet

At the senior check-up vets are identifying subtle changes in body function. If there are abnormalities detected in initial testing, further investigation or more frequent testing may be recommended.

What should your Senior Check Include?

  • Wellness overview - a chance for you to tell your veterinarian any changes of behaviour or physical appearance you have noticed. Use our checklist as a reminder of the changes you should be looking out for.
  • Hands on physical examination - your veterinarian will palpate or feel your pet's musculoskeletal system, abdomen, and head and neck areas for abnormalities. A stethoscope will be used to listen to your pet's heart and lungs. Your pet's eyes, ears, and mouth will also be checked for age-related problems, such as cataracts, dental problems, and ear canal disorders.
  • Diagnostic tests - such as blood work, urinalysis and possibly x-rays (based on your veterinarian's recommendations).

 

Ongoing monitoring allows your veterinarian to ensure they have the correct combination of treatment in place for your pet. As well as assisting you to provide the best lifestyle and home environment possible.

The aim of the Senior Program is to make the life of your furry companion long and healthy. We take pleasure in helping you to achieve this.

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For additional questions or to book your Senior Pet in for a health check please contact your local Best for Pet veterinarian.

http://bestforpet.com.au/our-clinics/


The benefits of obedience training

A necessity for all of our favourite animals, dogs especially benefit from obedience training, which teaches our furry friends to be social, safe and easily managed animal companions.

From going to the park without having to worry about your animal getting angry at other pets, to stress-free meal times and carefree cuddles without ruining your furniture, there are countless reasons why your animal needs obedience training, no matter what their age.

Although it’s best to start when young, dogs of any ages can learn a lot from obedience training, (a service which is available at most Veterinary practices) and it is a fun and beneficial way to not only train your animal but to have some quality time and bond with them as well. You’ll be surprised at how simple techniques, food or toy incentives can encourage your dog to behave in certain ways that make both your home life and social life much easier.

If you’re still not convinced, here are a few reasons why you should take your animal to obedience training:

Easy Management

Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of taking your dog to obedience training is that you can easily manage your animal throughout everyday tasks. Your animal will learn everything from basic commandments like sit, drop and stay, to walking comfortably and safely on a leash and greeting other animals and people in a calm and controllable way.

Social and friendly animals

When your animals learn basic commandments they become less anxious and stressed, making them much more social and friendly. Taking your animals to parties, family events and social functions no longer needs to be feared, as obedience training will condition your animal to enjoy the company of others without getting too overwhelmed or excited and they will learn to listen to you when they do.

Safety

After attending training, your animals are much more likely to be safer around other animals, people and outside environmental factors. Simple things like returning to you when called, or sitting calmly next to you when a bigger or more anxious dog walks past is an undeniable benefit, making play time a whole lot less stressful for both you and your pet!

Bonding

With countless behavioral benefits, obedience training is also a great time for you to bond with your pet through a series of fun and relaxed exercises.  Research shows that animals that have had discipline training are more responsive to their owners, making you less stressed and more loving towards your pet without any unwanted frustration!

Community Involvement

Although it may be time consuming for some, the overall benefits of taking your animal to obedience training is huge and are not just for your favourite furry friend! Obedience training is a great chance to develop and grow your animal’s skills and behaviour as well as a chance for you to meet new likeminded pet owners. Get social one night a week, with a great group of Vet nurses and pet owners while spending quality time with your favourite animal companion – what more could you want?

Despite the age-old saying, even if your dog is no longer a puppy, it can still learn new tricks! While the younger they are, the more likely they are to learn the required training faster and easier, there are still plenty of ways to teach older dogs discipline with similar food and toy incentives and disciplinary techniques.

Get in touch with your local vet to discuss your pet’s obedience training needs and for more information on classes and available services.


Settling your dog into a new home

So you are about to move house and concerned about settling your dogs into their new environment? Here's some handy tips on making the transition stress free and as safe as possible for your pet.

Dogs can sometimes be more difficult to settle into new routines, particularly those that have the run of the house or are used to more space. Taking your dog for walks around your new area, will give him/her both the mental and physical stimulation they need as well as familiarise them with their new surrounds. Walk your dog at least once daily, especially in the mornings before they are left alone. This will help reduce any excess energy that they have.

Avoid making a fuss of your dog when you arrive home and leave home. Your dog may interpret the fuss incorrectly, and begin to worry unnecessarily. You do not want him/ her to wait all day for an exciting event (ie. your arrival). If you get home and nothing exciting happens, your dog will start to think it is not the best part of his day and will stop pining for that moment.

Owners are often tempted to replace the dog or cat's bed when they move into a new home. If you can resist the temptation, provide them with a bed, toys, food and water bowl they are familiar with.

Barking, digging and more

Most dogs only bark, dig or develop destructive behaviours when they are bored so keeping your dog busy is the main priority.

Make sure your new home is safe

Before you let your pet into a new environment, do a simple check for the following:-

  • Poisons - check your shed, garden and shelves for anything left at 'nose' level. Also check the garden beds for any rat or snail poison left in the yard by previous owners.
  • Fencing - do a backyard check to make sure you have no escape holes.
  • Remove chewable objects - to prevent obstruction injuries (injuries that could choke or damage your pet's gastrointestinal system) remove suspect items from your yard. Disgard any old bones, small balls and anything your pet maybe attracted to.
  • Identification - Ensure your pet is wearing a collar, and has an identification tag with your new phone number. If your pet is microchipped, contact the relevant microchip registry to change your contact details. Finally contact your local council to update your pet's registration details.

If your dog is having trouble, or you know he or she may have trouble settling in, a calming pheromone dispenser may help considerably, please call your local vet to discuss this.

And just remember, patience, patience, patience... and you will enjoy your new home together in no time.


The perfect pets for retirees

Retired and looking for a furry companion? An extra special sidekick to spend your days with?

It’s the time you’ve waited for when bumper-to-bumper in peak hour traffic, packed like a sardine on your daily train commute or when hurriedly eating lunch at your desk or taking minutes in meetings. We’re talking retirement. And it’s finally here. Only there’s just one thing …

When you’re home alone drinking your umpteenth cuppa, you miss mid-morning banter around the water cooler. When you’re out pumping the pavement on an afternoon walk, you miss knocking off on Fridays and after work drinks. You miss the contact, you miss the company and above all, maybe feeling a little lonely…

Problem solved. Insert a furry friend!

There’s no better time than retirement to introduce a four-legged friend into your home, your heart and your spanking new lifestyle. With more time up your sleeve to care for a pet, welcoming one into your home will not only give you a sense of purpose in what can be a daunting new chapter, welcoming a pet into your home ensures you’ll always have a trusty sidekick to share in the newfound memories you’re making.

Choosing a pet for retirement

When choosing a pet for retirement, as with choosing a pet in general, there are a few things to consider so that your pet doesn’t turn into a full-time job you can’t resign from!

  1. Consider how you wish to enjoy your time and find a pet that’s suited to the life you wish to lead. If you’re outdoorsy and active, perhaps a feisty pup that loves to run? If you enjoy reading and afternoon naps, perhaps a lop-eared rabbit who loves to cuddle?
  1. If travelling is an important part of your retirement plan, ensure you introduce a pet into your life that is capable of caring for itself in your absence, such as an aquarium of fish, or is able to easily be cared for by family, friends or local pet boarders, such as a calm breed of cat.
  1. Consider the costs involved in being a pet parent, including vet visits checkups when assessing if the pet you have in mind will meet your budget.
  1. With retirement come relaxation, and to ensure it stays that way, ensure you choose an animal whose upkeep you’re happy to meet. While budgies and birds are manageable for most, it takes a passionate person to take on the maintenance of a merino sheepdog’s mane!

Sharing your new life as a retiree with a pet will be the most pleasurable and rewarding if you take some time to consider your lifestyle, your financial situation and level of commitment prior to bringing them home. As with any relationship, if the one you build with your pet is based on a solid foundation, it will last the test of time and bring a lifetime of happiness.


10 facts about dogs that you didn't know about

A man’s best friend and a common companion for many families and households, is the energetic and lovable dog. While you may think you know your dog pretty well, you’d be surprised to find out there are many little known facts about dogs that may explain part of their behaviour, habits or appearance.

Want to know more? Here are 10 little known facts about dogs:

  1. Dogs have been around for over 40,000 years

Your favourite pooch has had a long history, with archaeological evidence suggesting that dogs might have come from the wolf family up to 40,000 years ago. This is most noticeable for specific dog breeds like the German Shepherd who still seem to have a noticeable wolf like appearance.

  1. Not all dogs have pink tongues.

Nearly all but two breeds of dogs have pink tongues. The Chow Chow and the Shar-Pei are exceptions as they both have black tongues. How cool is that?

  1. There are more than 150 dog breeds, divided into 8 classes.

These include: sporting, hound, working, terrier, toy, non-sporting, herding, and miscellaneous dogs.

Determining dog types isn’t as simple as you thought! While we commonly distinguish dogs by their size, general appearance or hair length, it seems there is a lot more to it than that. There are approximately over 150 dog breeds, all with distinct physical, behavioral and mental characteristics.

  1. Dogs can hear amazingly well.

All dogs have amazing hearing that allows them to locate the source of a sound in 6/100ths of a second. That means they can tell instantly when you are opening their dog food (or any other kind of food!) and will come chasing in no time!

  1. Dogs curl up to protect themselves (not to just look cute).

We love the look of our favourite pooch curled in a ball on the bed, couch or pretty much anywhere else, however it isn’t just to look cute! Dogs curl up as a natural instinct to keep themselves warm and to protect their vital organs when they sleep.

  1. Dalmatian puppies are actually born completely white!

They certainly didn’t teach us this one in Disney’s 101 Dalmatians! The gorgeous Dalmatian puppies are born completely white and they develop their black spots over time.

  1. Puppies can’t hold on over night.

No matter how hard you try, you cannot teach your brand new puppy to hold off from going to the toliet throughout the night, never fear it’s not your fault! Puppies actually have an inability to hold on until they are about four months old.  Although this may cause a little stress and havoc during the beginning, it is a lot less time than it takes to toilet train a newborn human baby!

  1. They can smell a lot better than you think.

We know our dogs love to sniff pretty much anything, especially when you take them somewhere new, but did you know that their sense of smell can be between 1,000 - 100,000 times stronger than the average human? That means there’s no fooling them when you have their bone or are hiding food, chances are they are smell it from a mile away!

  1. The Norwegian Lundehund is the only breed that has six toes on each feet.

The small breed is different from its furry friends as it has not five but six toes on each foot. How cute is that?

  1. Dogs have an amazing internal clock.

If you keep to a fairly regular schedule, dogs learn to know exactly when it’s walk time, eat and sleep time and when you’re due to get back from work.


Assistance Dogs in the Community

Pets and people go together like bread and butter, as much as we like to talk about enriching our pets’ lives with toys and play, the truth is the very presence of a dog can often enrich human lives. They are man’s best friend after all! Assistance dogs are living proof of this. When it comes to the elderly, disabled, or otherwise impaired, there’s nothing quite like an assistance dog to not only help out with basic tasks and chores but add quality of life and sociability to those in need.

Assistance dogs are a heavy investment. Disability services such as Guide Dogs Australia often require up to or more than $25,000 to train an assistance dog, depending on the particular training required. However, once trained assistance dogs can perform the following tasks:

  • Open doors
  • Pick up items
  • Do laundry/fetch other items necessary for housework
  • Alert bark to alert the owner of danger, guests or other things that require immediate attention
  • Help owner cross roads by pressing buttons at traffic lights
  • Pay cashier at stores

For providers of assistance dogs it often takes a long time to match up the right dog to the right person. Those companies that provide assistance dogs try carefully to match the personality and training the dog has undertaken to the personality and needs of the person needing assistance.

Types of Assistance Dogs

There are many types of assistance dogs.

Those specifically trained to aid the hearing or vision impaired. These dogs are specifically trained to use different alerts for sounds, such as touching (nudging) or licking in order to show the owner there is something needing their attention.

A mobility assistance dog can help with walking and/or pulling a wheelchair.

A dog specifically trained as an autism assistance dogcan use a technique such as deep pressure, i.e sitting on the child’s lap or chest, in order to calm them down, and to run after them if the child runs away. These dogs are best kept in a harness and in constant connection to their charge in order to keep the dog in the child’s mind as much as possible.

Assistance dogs can aid the impaired by providing greater freedom, independence and personhood. A valuable trait for those already struggling with mental and physical handicaps such as paraplegia, quadriplegia, autism spectrum disorders and even post-traumatic stress disorder. Not only do they make great carers, but assistance dogs can also be taken to hospitals, hospices and old folk’s homes, providing an affectionate and adorable treat for sick children, adults and the elderly.

A licensed assistance dog is granted public access rights, it is illegal to refuse entry to an identified assistance dog and any person/proprietor who does so can be charged, therefore assistance dogs are the perfect guide to take to appropriate social outings.

Guide dogs are well-equipped and trained to deal with emergency situations. Training allows them to navigate quickly through crowds, find emergency exits and bring medication to owners/patients. A guide dog can also be trained to calm down someone with post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety or another mental illness during a panic attack.

Pets in general, dogs especially, are known to improve sociability among communities, with many dog owners suggesting that they might not have met many people in their neighbourhoods without their canine on hand. The quality of life that comes with this kind of improved sociability is invaluable for those whose age, illness or mental difficulties can limit their interactions with others, time spent outdoors and time generally being active.


Welcoming an adopted pet into your household

Visiting a shelter, rescue home or a veterinarian to adopt a new pet is an exciting time for any new pet owner. There are so many things to think about when welcoming your new pet into your family, so we have picked five of the most important things to consider:

1. Make sure everyone in the house is prepared for the new pet

Prior to bringing home your new pet, discuss with your family any changes that may need to take place as well as committing to a consistent approach to training, using positive reinforcement and acceptable boundaries and rules for your new addition. This important step will prevent frustration and confusion and will also setup your new addition for success.

Here's a few things you might want to discuss and allocate responsibility to:

  • Feeding times and location - including a daily ‘treat budget' so your new addition stays trim and terrific
  • Exercise and playtime
  • Training (use positive reinforcement and a consistent approach for everyone )
  • Water - daily bowl change
  • Medication or prevention treatment e.g. providing regular doses of flea/ heartworm/ worming treatment
  • At home healthcare - checking teeth and providing dental care such as brushing teeth or feeding dental chews where required, checking ears and eyes and any other problem areas.
  • Grooming (such as brushing and washing)
  • Litter removal and disposal
  • Laundry for clean bedding
  • Veterinary care schedule (for regular check-ups and vaccination boosters)

2. Patience and persistence

When it comes to training and getting to know your pet's new personality and behaviour, patience is the key. It is possible to train an older pet but you will need to be persistent and positive!

3. Pet proof your home

If you are bringing home your first pet, you will quickly learn to be cautious of leaving things lying around the house. A chicken sandwich left on the kitchen counter may soon be your pet's next lunch. We recommend checking your home, garden and shed for potential poisons which could harm your pet. Also, check your fence and gates for escape routes as well as the fence height for dogs that are able to jump.

4. Go slowly when introducing your new pet to friends and family

t can take several weeks for a pet to relax in a new environment. It is a great idea to keep cats in a secluded room with all of his/ her goodies (toys/ scratching post/ litter tray) until he/ she is familiar with their new surroundings. Socialisation is important, but take it slowly for older pets.

5. Consider more than one pet 

In particular cats require exercise, mental stimulation, and social interaction which can be provided by having two cats. Similarly if your dog is left at home whilst you are at work during the day, another pal is a great idea. In saying this, every pet is different and some pets are more than happy to be left at home alone.

Finally, congratulations if you are already on a journey of pet adoption. No doubt your pet will bring you many moments of joy and become your new best friend. If you have any questions about adoption or how to care for your new pet please contact our pet health care team.