Itchy Pets and Constant Licking in Elderly Pets

Many dogs lick and scratch as result of itching (also called pruritis). The most common cause of itching is allergies, skin disease, dry skin, external parasites, infections and in rare cases, skin cancer. Elderly pets lick and scratch as they age if any of these conditions occur and can be treated with the help of your vet. It’s important to monitor your pet if they are constantly itching, licking or scratching.

Oftentimes, bathing your elderly pet can help alleviate the symptoms that are causing the itching. However, in some cases, long term antibiotics may be necessary in the case of a staph infection, or a medicated bath might be necessary in the event of fleas. Your vet can help determine what is the root cause of the itching and can help alleviate the symptoms. Prescription allergy medication can also help if it is deemed that your elderly pet is suffering from allergies.

The bottom line there is no need for your pet to lick and scratch, especially if it is on a regular basis and especially if they seem agitated from the itching, scratching and licking. Skin infections are a common cause of scratching and often a month long round of antibiotics can do the trick. You can often see skin infections by looking closely at your pet’s skin; especially if you see dry patches and flaking. Talk with your vet if your pet’s licking, scratching or itching become troublesome for your pet. In time, your pet’s irritation can be resolved and he can go back to living without constant itching and will be more comfortable.

 

Easy Peanut Butter Treats for Elderly Pets

Many elderly pets develop illnesses or become finicky as they age. Homemade dog treats are a much better alternative to store bought treats that are full of preservatives that are not great for pets, especially if your pet has developed sensitivities to certain foods or preservatives. 

These treats are easy to make with just a few ingredients and cost just pennies per treat.  Here’s our favorite recipe for healthy, preservative free dog treats.

Preheat oven 350 degrees

In a stand mixer, blend together flour and baking powder. Add water, peanut butter and egg then mix for 2 minutes until well blended. Mixture will be somewhat sticky but pliable. 

Roll out treats on floured parchment paper to approximately 1/4″ thickness. Use whatever size bone shaped cookie cutter is appropriate for your pet. Gently press the cutters into the dough then re roll the dough several times until most of the dough is used. Treats can also be rolled and cut into simple rectangles with a serrated knife if you do not have cookie cutters or if you prefer a very small treat. 

Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes and allow to cool thoroughly before giving to your pet.

Treats will be soft and can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks. Because there are no preservatives, these treats must be refrigerated to preserve freshness. Adding a paper towel to the sealed container will absorb moisture and help prevent them from getting moldy. Put the date they were baked on the treat container and discard after two weeks, if not sooner if any mold forms on the treats.   

Enjoy!

The bone shaped cookie cutters below come in a set of 6 assorted sizes that are perfect for a variety of size treats. 

Does Cataracts Equal Blindness in Pets?

Many people think that when a dog or cat develops cataracts, it means the pet may go blind. In many cases, it is true, cataracts can lead to blindness in animals. However, what many people don’t know is cataracts can often retract over time. This was the case with one of our pets, who developed cataracts as a result of diabetes. He got cataracts in both eyes and in one of the eyes, he had a lot of issues. The eye developed glaucoma and he eventually went blind in that eye. The other eye however, retracted to the point where he could actually see again. Where the cataracts had initially obscured his vision, he was later able to navigate much better because the retraction left his view partially visible again.

So just because a pet has cataracts does not necessarily mean they will go blind. Some cataracts start small, with only minimal decline in visibility. They may have challenges, for sure, because their vision, at the very least will become somewhat obstructed. Over time, cataracts can get worse and worse and as they worsen, vision can decline. But if the cataracts retract, pet’s vision may actually improve. Although the animal’s vision may never be perfect, they may still be able to navigate their world better than when they originally developed the cataracts.

Of course, this is not a guarantee, because not all cataracts retract, but in some cases they do and the pet’s vision can actually improve from its original condition when the cataracts first appeared.

There are also medical procedures for cataracts, to correct before a pet is blind. If your pet has symptoms of cataracts: cloudiness or opacity in pupils or if your vet has confirmed cataracts, it doesn’t necessarily mean your pet’s vision is totally obstructed or that they will go blind from the cataracts. Speak with your vet about your options and should you decide to have the cataracts removed, surgery is typically the course that a vet would recommend. Since most cases of cataracts are hereditary, there is little that can be done to prevent them, although some vets suggest that diets rich in fish oil (omega 3 fatty acids) can help with eye health. Limiting sun exposure while outside can also help limit sun damage to the eyes, which can also cause cataracts.

Cataract surgery for pets can run into the thousands of dollars, for the actual surgery, follow up visits and for special medicated drops that the pet will need for a long time. Pet insurance can help pay for expensive surgeries and continued treatment and examinations that will likely be needed, so long as the policy is in place before the diagnosis is made.

For more information about why you should consider pet insurance, please read our blog. 

Is the Anti-Vaccine Movement Hurting Pets?

Vaccines are health products that trigger protective immune responses in pets and prepare them to fight future infections from disease-causing agents. Vaccines can lessen the severity of future diseases and certain vaccines can prevent infection altogether. Today, a variety of vaccines are available for use by veterinarians. But with more and more people opposed to vaccinations, more and more pets are at risk for life threatening illnesses.

Pets should be vaccinated to protect them from many highly contagious and deadly diseases. Experts agree that widespread use of vaccines within the last century has prevented death and disease in millions of animals. Even though some formerly common diseases have now become uncommon, vaccination is still highly recommended because these serious disease agents continue to be present in the environment.

Just because a pet stays at home and does not interact with other animals, does not necessarily mean the pet should not be vaccinated. Vaccines have protected millions of animals from illness and death caused by infectious diseases. All medical procedures, however, carry with them some risk. Fortunately, in the case of vaccination, serious adverse responses are very infrequent. Veterinarians minimize risk by carefully selecting vaccines on the basis of a pet’s individual needs and by choosing appropriate injection sites.

The bottom line is if your pet is vaccinated, he can be protected from life threatening illnesses, and more importantly, he can protect other animals he may come in contact with. As pets age, they become more vulnerable and in some cases, their immune systems can become compromised – making them more vulnerable to illnesses especially if they are not vaccinated and protected.

Diabetes in Older Pets

Diabetes is more common in older pets, but it can also occur in younger or pregnant pets. The disease is more manageable if it is detected early and managed with the help of your veterinarian. The good news is that with proper monitoring, treatment, and diet and exercise, diabetic pets can lead long and happy lives.

Diabetes in dogs and cats can occur at any age. However, diabetic dogs are usually 4-14 years of age and most are diagnosed at roughly 7-10 years of age.  Most diabetic cats are older than 6 years of age.  Diabetes occurs in female dogs twice as often as male dogs. Certain breeds of dogs may be predisposed to diabetes.

Noticing the early signs of diabetes is the most important step in taking care of your pet. If you see any of the following signs, your pet should be examined by a veterinarian. The earlier the diagnosis, the better chance your pet may have for a longer and healthier life.

  • Excessive water drinking and increased urination
  • Weight loss, even though there may be an increased appetite
  • Decreased appetite
  • Cloudy eyes (especially in dogs)
  • Chronic or recurring infections (including skin infections and urinary infections)

Once the diagnosis is confirmed, your veterinarian will prescribe an initial dose and type of insulin for your pet. Insulin cannot be given orally – it must be given by injection under the skin. Your veterinarian or veterinary technician will teach you how to give the insulin injections, which involve a very small needle and are generally very well tolerated by the pet. It is not a one-size-fits-all treatment, your veterinarian may periodically need to adjust your pet’s treatment regimen based on the results of monitoring.  Dietary recommendations are an important part of treatment.

Successful treatment of diabetes requires regular examinations, blood and urine tests, and monitoring your pet’s weight, appetite, drinking and urination.

It is very important to maintain the proper insulin and feeding schedules recommended for your pet. It is also very important that your pet maintains a normal appetite while on insulin therapy, or you risk hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) if your pet is not eating and absorbing enough sugars to balance the insulin’s effect of removing the sugars from the bloodstream. You will also need to regularly check your pet’s blood and urine sugar levels. Regular examinations and testing performed by your veterinarian may be supplemented by at-home monitoring of your pet’s blood and urine glucose levels at home.

Because older dogs and cats are more likely to develop age-related diseases or conditions, some of which could be confused with diabetes, regular examinations by a veterinarian can keep your pet healthy and detect problems before they become severe.

Diabetic dogs and cats can live long and healthy lives with proper management and veterinary care. If you notice any changes in your pet’s behavior or weight, consult your veterinarian.