When someone we love – such as a beloved pet – dies, the loss often causes grief and intense sorrow. By physically showing your grief, you actively mourn the death of your beloved pet. This active mourning will move you on a journey toward reconciling with the loss of your pet.
What Should I Do?
Your journey of grief will not take on a prescribed pattern or look like stages. During the period when you are actively mourning your loss, it may help to consider the following:
Acknowledge the reality of the death
Acknowledging the full reality of your loss may take weeks or months, but will be done in a time that is right for you. Be kind to yourself as you prepare for the “new normal” of a life without your beloved pet. Just as it took time to build the relationship with your pet, it will take time to get used to him or her not being there.
Move toward the pain of the loss
Experiencing these emotional thoughts and feelings about the death of a pet is a difficult, but important, need. A healthier grief journey may come from taking your time to work through your feelings rather than trying to push them away or ignore it.
Continue your relationship through memories
Your memories allow your pets to live on in you. Embracing these memories, both happy and sad, can be a very slow and, at times, painful process that occurs in small steps. For example, take some time to look at past photos, write a tribute to your pet, or write your pet a letter recalling your time together.
Adjust your self-identity
Part of your self-identity might come from being a pet owner. Others may also think of you in relation to your pet. You may be “the guy who always walked the big black dog around the neighborhood” or “the friend whose cat always jumped on laps.” Adjusting to this change is a central need of mourning.
Search for meaning
When a pet dies, it’s natural to question the meaning and purpose of pets in your life. Coming to terms with these questions is another need you must meet during your grief journey. Know that it is the asking, not the finding of concrete answers, that is important.
Receive support from others
You need the love and support of others because you never "get over" grief. Talking or being with other pet owners who have experienced the death of a pet can be one important way to meet this need.
Things to Remember
The experience of loss is different for everyone and can present unique challenges.
The deafening silence - the silence in your home after the death of a pet may seem excruciatingly loud. While your animal companion occupies physical space in your life and your home, many times their presence is felt more with your senses. When that pet is no longer there, the lack of their presence – the silence - becomes piercing. It becomes the reality of the “presence of the absence.” Merely being aware of this stark reality will assist in preparing you for the flood of emotions.
The special bond with your pet - the relationship shared with your pet is a special and unique bond, a tie that some might find difficult to understand. There will be well-meaning friends and family members who will think that you should not mourn for your pet or who will tell you that you should not be grieving as hard as you are because “it’s just a cat” or “just a dog.” Your grief is normal and the relationship you shared with your special friend needs to be mourned.
Grief can’t be ranked - sometimes our heads get in the way of our heart’s desire to mourn by trying to justify the depth of our emotion. Some people will then want to “rank” their grief, pitting their grief emotions with others who may be “worse.” While this is normal, your grief is your grief and deserves the care and attention of anyone who is experiencing a loss.
Questions of spirituality - during this time in your grief journey, you may find yourself questioning your beliefs regarding pets and the after-life. Many people around you will also have their own opinions. It will be important during this time for you to find the answers right for you and your individual and personal beliefs.
Obesity is defined as the accumulation of excessive amounts of adipose (fat) tissue in the body. It is one of the most common conditions that we see in pets. There are a number of things that can predispose a pet to being overweight or obese. These include genetics, being spayed or neutered, being on a diet that is too high in fat or calories and also living a non-active lifestyle.
So how can you determine if your pet is overweight? The first thing to do is look at the ribs. If you cannot feel the ribs when you slightly press over the side of your pet's chest, then your pet is most likely overweight. Pets that are overweight also can have extra fat accumulate around the tail and typically do not have a waist.
When examining your pet, Veterinarians can use one of two scales to determine the Body Condition Score of pets. The first scoring system is a scale of 1-5 with 3 being ideal weight and 5 being obese. The other scoring system is a scale of 1-9; when 4.5 is ideal weight and 9 is obese.
Why is it so bad for our pets to be overweight? They are predisposed to a variety of health conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease and they can overall have a decreased life expectancy.
What can pet owners do if they feel that their pet is overweight?
First, talk with your veterinarian about your pet. It is important to have your pet examined to ensure that they are otherwise in good health. With your help, your veterinarian can help you develop a weight loss plan. This includes calculating the amount of calories your pet needs based on their ideal weight. It will also include a discussion about activities to do with your pet.
Sometimes a diet change may be beneficial. It is always a good idea to decrease the daily amount of treats and snack that may be 'human' food. Sometimes one treat can be the equivalent to humans eating a candy bar. Some owners may feed 4-5 treats per day (that would be 4-5 snicker bars in a day!)
Ways to increase activity include daily walks, daily trips to a dog park and playing fetch for our canine companions. For cats, we recommend moving that food dish around to different spots, using toys that encourage movement and provided cat trees or places to climb.
Veterinarians are there to help pets live as long as possible. They can help you determine the best plan for your pet. There are wonderful stories of pets losing weight and feeling like young puppies again just from the weight loss. Visit petobesityprevention.org for other ideas and resources.
Source: The Growing Problem of Obesity in Dogs and Cats1-3 Alexander J. German4
As your pet ages, many of his basic needs, from diet to exercise, will begin to change. Pets are very good at hiding their health problems, and as an owner, it is our responsibility to keep an eye on them to ensure that you are adjusting his routine to match changes in his body and immune system that make him less able to cope with physical and environmental stresses. Routine exams, preventative medicine and adjustments to your pet's lifestyle can help him stay healthy even as the years creep up.
Different sized dog's age at varying rates, with larger dogs reaching senior status much sooner than smaller dogs. While each dog reaches 'seniorhood' at a different age, most canines become seniors after seven years including cats. It is important to know your pet's age so you know when he becomes a senior and can ask your vet about when you're pet's needs may begin to change.
Many different diseases must be accounted for as your pet ages. Such diseases include arthritis, cancer, cognitive disorders, vision and auditory problems, liver, kidney and dental disease, diabetes, and heart disease. Just as with people, regular health checkups become increasingly important as pets grow older and should be seen at least once every six months. The purpose of these wellness exams is to promote your pet's health and longevity, recognize and control health risks and detect any illnesses in early stages, which may improve treatment options. A typical exam will include health-related questions in order to build a snapshot of your pet's medical history. During the check-up, the vet will check for body tumors, signs of pain, body appearance and condition along with examining the eyes, ear, nose, and mouth for irregularities as well as listening to the heart and lungs. Many times a number of diagnostic tests will be ran including CBC (complete blood count), chemistry screen to check the liver and kidney, urinalysis, thyroid function, and heartworm and fecal test. Baseline laboratory tests should be ran early before your pet becomes a senior as this allows your vet to monitor any developing trends in your pet's health status as it changes from year to year.
As an owner, you should consistently monitor your pet's health between vet visits. Signs to look for include incontinence, lumps, constipation or diarrhea, breathing abnormalities, coughing, weakness, changes in appetite, water intake or urination, stiffness or limping, increased vocalization and uncharacteristic aggression or behavioral changes. Fluctuations in weight can be an early sign of an underlying disease and should be checked frequently. By keeping a close eye on your pet, this will allow a better insight for your veterinarian to be able to recognize abnormalities.
Adjusting your pet's nutrition is very important as these senior foods are designed to have less fat and salt, therefore decreasing the stress on the different body systems. Frequent bathroom breaks are also warranted for a smooth transition into those elderly years to come. These may seem like simple adjustments but they are very important for a happier healthier companion.
Along with being more watchful over your senior pet's health, it's crucial that you keep up with routine preventative care such as parasite prevention, dental care, vaccinations and nutritional management. As your pet's immune system weakens with age, the importance of routine basic care only increases. Always create a comfortable environment for your ageing pet with easy access to food and water and supportive bedding along with old fashioned TLC which is beneficial to both you and your pet.
Undoubtedly, your veterinarian is key to helping in your pet's transition through these senior years, but as an owner, you are also key to your pet's life. Together, your pet is on track for a long and healthy life.
Call today and scheduled your pet's appointment and make sure they are on the healthy track to living a long and happy life.
If you have ever lost your pet, you know that terrible feeling at the pit of your stomach that you may never see them again. Microchipping is the best way to make sure your pet makes its way back home.
What is a Microchip?
A microchip is a permanent identification that is placed just under the skin of your pet. If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read a unique ID code. Each ID code is tied to a database with their owner's name, address, and contact information so you can easily be contacted when the pet is found. The best part, it's affordable!
How is it implanted?
It may sound "high-tech," but placing a microchip is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects the microchip (which is about the size of a grain of rice) beneath the surface of your pet's skin between the shoulder blades. The process only takes a few seconds and is similar to a routine shot. Bonus: No anesthetic is required!
Not sure where your pet's chip is registered?
Visit the AAHA Universal Pet Microchip Lookup Tool at petmicrochiplookup.org. To update your pet's registration, you'll need your pet's microchip number.
If you haven't already created an account with the manufacturer, you'll need to do that as well so you can access the registration in the future to update their information. Make sure all of the information, particularly your phone number(s) and address, is correct.
Can I track where my pet goes if they are microchipped?
No, the microchip is not a tracking device. Only your veterinarian or a location with a universal scanner can scan your pet's microchip.
A microchip only works if its registration information is accurate!
Take advantage of our Microchip special April 24th- 28th
Normally $60 now ONLY $34.99 (HomeAgain Microchip registration and enrollment included.)
We are approaching some of the most popular holidays of the year, Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, which are full of fun decorations and yummy holiday treats. Celebrate the holidays safely by avoiding this list of poisonous or hazardous materials found around your house this holiday season.
Question: My ten year old dog seemed sore after a walk and is now limping on the left hind leg. I gave him an aspirin the last two days, is this something I can continue for his arthritis?
Answer: It has been thought, over the years, that dogs can tolerate and should be given aspirin for pain. In recent years it has been shown that even one microscopic dose of aspirin can cause ulcers and gastrointestinal bleeding. Once in their system, aspirin is slowly excreted causing it to linger for almost seven days. Aspirin cannot be combined with many other pain medications that we tend to prescribe. For arthritis in pets, I strongly recommend scheduling a consultation appointment where we assess the source of pain and get the pet started on safer medications. These medications may often be used in conjunction with other joint supplements so we can provide maximum comfort levels while minimizing the risks of long term effects to overall health. In addition to these items, ice and rest do wonders to alleviate some mild cases of discomfort.
If you think that your pet is experiencing discomfort from arthritis or another reason, please give your vet a call to discuss options prior to administering anything from home.
Question: I’ve heard that sugarless gum can be toxic to my dog, is that true?
Answer: There are a lot of myths out there regarding things that can be bad for your furry friends, but unfortunately, this one is indeed true. Sugarless candy and gum can contain an ingredient called xylitol, a common sugar substitute.
There are two different ways that xylitol can have potentially fatal effects. First, the pancreas confuses xylitol with real sugar and then releases insulin to store the “sugar.” The insulin then removes real sugar from the blood stream instead, leading to hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This causes disorientation, weakness, tremors and even seizures.
Higher doses of xylitol can actually cause destruction of liver cells. In the worst cases, this can lead to an inability to clot blood and internal hemorrhage. It is still not understood how xylitol causes liver damage, and not all dogs will experience signs of low blood sugar first before liver damage occurs.
As little as one stick of gum could cause hypoglycemia in a 10 pound dog. It takes about ten times that amount to cause liver damage in a 10 pound dog. If your dog ingests sugarless gum, it is best to get them to their veterinarian right away so that vomiting can be induced. IV fluids and blood monitoring may also be necessary. As always, call you veterinarian if you have any questions.
Question: Why does my animal itch so much?!
Answer: Unquestionably, this is a loaded question, but we can break it down into three basic categories of why your animal might be itching. The categories include, but are not limited to, allergies, skin parasites, and skin infections. Skin allergies can be broken down into a food allergy or an environmental allergy. Environmental allergies are diagnosed by doing a skin test (similar to a scratch test in humans) to find out what the animal is allergic to. Once completed, allergy injections are then given to hyposensitize the patient. A food allergy is treated by feeding a hypoallergenic diet with single unique protein ingredients such as fish, rabbit, duck or venison with a single carbohydrate such as potato or rice and no other treats or chewable supplements can be given for a minimum of eight weeks.
Skin parasites include fleas and a variety of mites which can be diagnosed through a physical exam and skin scraping. Parasitic skin infections are treated with dips and oral anti-parasitic medications. Skin infections are usually secondary to skin allergies and parasites and require antibiotics to resolve it. Without a doubt, skin issues can be very frustrating and time consuming to treat, but there is light at the end of the tunnel with some patience and persistence. Contact your veterinarian if you have any questions, or if you think your pet may have a skin condition.
Question: My cat hates to go to the vet. I have such a difficult time getting her into the carrier, and then when we get there, she hisses and spats at the vet and me. Is there anything I can do?
Answer: I am sorry to hear that your cat gets so anxious and nervous about coming in for a visit. There are some things that can make the experience better for both of you.
First, make sure to get your carrier out a few days ahead of time. Put it in an area that your cat enjoys. You can even place a few treats inside the carrier to encourage her to go inside.
Place a towel in the carrier to make it more comfy for your kitty.
I also recommend purchasing a product called Feliway. It comes in a spray as well as a diffuser. You will want to get the spray. Feliway is a cat pheromone product that can help a cat feel more relaxed. About one hour prior to your veterinary appointment, spray the inside of the carrier with Feliway. About ½ hour prior to your appointment, place your cat within the carrier. Do not feed your kitty the day of the appointment, so that she will be more interested in treats.
When you’re at the veterinarian, check to see if there are any dogs in the waiting room. If there are, ask to be put into an exam room right away.
In the exam room, make sure to open the carrier right away. You can give your cat some treats to help make the experience pleasant. If you have a carrier that the top comes off easily, remove the top. Many times the veterinarian can examine the cat while in the carrier. Let your kitty explore the exam room. Encourage her with praise.
With these tips, your next visit should be a good one.
Question: I have a litter of baby kittens with red weepy eyes. Can I get an antibiotic ointment for them, or what can I do to help keep them comfortable?
Answer: At this time of the year we see many kittens with eye problems. Most of the eye problems begin when the kitten becomes infected with a virus- often a Herpes type upper respiratory virus. This virus typically causes inflammation of the eyes resulting in redness, irritation and discharge. We often see sneezing associated with this virus as well. If the discharge from the eyes and nose stays clear, it usually indicates that we are only dealing with a virus- which will need to run the course. Applying a warm wet washcloth to the eyes while they are irritated helps to decrease the inflammation present. The warm compresses also help to clean the discharge and keep any skin infections from occurring due to the excess moisture. If the eyes or nose develop a green or yellow discharge, I would recommend scheduling an appointment for the kitten as there is probably a secondary bacterial infection now present; this infection would need antibiotics to help clear. Even if the eye discharge stays clear, if it is not improving or worsens at any time I would also recommend examining the kitten as there are many other things which can cause red eyes such as corneal scratches or ulcers.
Question: Do I really need to have my cats teeth checked and cleaned yearly? He seems to be eating fine!
Answer: Without question, it is very important to have your cat’s teeth cleaned yearly! Most cats do not allow us to do a complete oral exam like when we go to the dentist. Therefore, performing a yearly dental allows us to address any oral abnormalities that may be causing your cat pain. Cats can develop various oral abnormalities at any given time including stomatitis, Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORL), pathologic jaw fractures, fractured teeth, tumors, etc…. Cats are very stoic animals and majority of the time they do not stop eating because of mouth pain which makes it difficult to know if your animal is hurting. This is why it’s essential to have a dentistry done yearly!
If you’ve ever lost your pet, you know that terrible feeling at the pit of your stomach that you’ll never see them again. Pet parents find themselves running around plastering posters all over the neighborhood to no avail. Micro chipping is the best way to make sure your pet makes their way back home. A microchip is a permanent identification that can be placed in your pets. If your pet gets lost and is taken to an animal shelter or veterinarian, they will scan the microchip to read its unique dog or cat ID code. And the best part, it’s affordable!
It may sound “high-tech,” but dog and cat micro chipping is a simple procedure. A veterinarian simply injects the microchip (which is about the size of a grain of rice,) beneath the surface of your pet’s skin between the shoulder blades. The process only takes a few seconds, and is similar to a routine shot. Bonus: no anesthetic is required! Call your Veterinarian today to discuss getting a micro chip for your furry friend.
Question: My cat is vomiting all the time and losing weight. I think he may have hairballs, what is the best hairball remedy?
Answer: Is your cat’s hacking getting the best of you? There are many hairball remedies on the market. Some of these remedies work great, others not so much. Laxatone is a supplement which can be given to help lubricate the hairball and move it through the intestinal tract. Using Laxatone generously during an actual hairball episode can help to move the obstruction. Often this takes several teaspoons rather than just a small squeeze. Hairball treats are also marketed, often these require too many to be effective. Many cat food companies also make hairball foods which certainly can keep the number of vomiting episodes down in many of our cats.
The part of your question which concerns me is that you mentioned weight loss. Usually cats do not lose weight with hairballs unless significant or severe. I would recommend trying the hairball remedies first, but if it is not helping, bring your cat into your vet for a check-up. Diagnostic testing such as blood work and x-rays are sometimes needed to help find the answer to the vomiting. Diseases such as thyroid disease, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease or food allergies can all cause vomiting in cats and are often accompanied by weight loss. If you cat is eating things around the house- hair bands, string, toys/stuffing, the vomiting could indicate a blockage, either partial or complete, and the cat should be seen immediately.
Questions: Why do cats spray? How do I stop it?
Answer: First and foremost, one must differentiate if the cat is spraying (also called marking) or having inappropriate elimination. This differentiation is extremely important in order to diagnose the correct cause and administer the appropriate treatment. Urine marking consists of the cat standing with the tail up and twitching and usually has an underlying anxiety component such as moving to a new house. Where inappropriate elimination consists of the cat squatting to urinate and is due to either medical abnormalities like a urinary tract infection or undesired environmental factors like a dirty litter box. One must understand that urine marking is NORMAL feline communication and that the cat does not know it is undesirable to the owner therefore, punishment is NEVER acceptable in any circumstance! Thankfully, treatment is available and consists of environmental modification and/or pharmacological treatment which may include antibiotics or anti-anxiety medications. The sooner that treatment is initiated, the greater likelihood we have a chance to stop the inappropriate behavior.
Did you know, despite what we think, that cats NEVER purposely urinate in inappropriate places just to spite us. If you think about it, cats can’t talk! That’s no news to anyone! So they must communicate in a different way to let us know something is not quite right.
Cats don’t realize that urinating in places other than the litterbox is undesirable to us humans, but what they do know is something has made the litterbox unpleasant. Whether it’s behavioral or medical, both are treatable conditions! Behavioral conditions can include simple little changes that we many times don’t realize how stressful it can be to a cat. Such stressors include adding a new pet to the family, buying a different brand of litter or not having enough litterboxes available. Medical conditions include urinary tract infections, bladder stones, and so on. Without question, always, ALWAYS consult your veterinarian in times like this. We are more than happy to help in any way we can to make living with your pet enjoyable!
Question: My kitten has started meowing incessantly within the last few weeks. I also caught her urinating on the wall during one of these episodes. She is only 6 months old, do you think she has a urinary tract infection or could she be going into heat? Kris
Answer: Kris, the likely answer to your question is that your kitten is going through a heat cycle. Cats go through a heat (estrus) cycle around 6 months of age. Cats are induced ovulators which means that they will continue to go through heat cycles until bred. Urinating on vertical surfaces often is a visible sign of urine marking, her way of signaling for a mate. I would recommend that a vet take a look at her to be certain that there is not a more serious problem occurring. Once a normal physical exam is completed, you could get her scheduled for a spay. Often spaying is all that is needed to eliminate the urine marking, but should it continue to occur then we need to look at other methods of behavioral control. Be certain to clean the marked area with an enzymatic cleaner which breaks down the urine molecule thus eliminating odor and the urge to remark. If a standard household cleaner is used, the scent will fade but not be completely eliminated and the animal will often remark the area. If this inappropriate urination behavior continues- the sooner you address the problem, the easier it may be to correct.