Category Archives: askbiggervet

#askbiggervet – October 15, 2014

This edition of #askbiggervet is all about senior pets! Get answers to your questions about noisy breathing, spaying older female dogs, and dental care for seniors!

Is noisy breathing in older dogs normal?
Courtney asked:

“Is noisy breathing in older dogs (12 years old) ever a normal occurrence? My dog snores and just has noisy breathing most of the time.”

Dr. Blakelock answers: Noisy breathing in older dogs is not uncommon, but it is not necessarily normal. It can be caused by various things such as laryngeal paralysis or an elongated soft palette. Any breathing changes should be evaluated by your veterinarian to make sure it is not anything serious and whether there is any treatment indicated.
If this still doesn’t work or your pet has dietary restrictions ask your veterinarian for other options.

Is it ever too late to spay a female dog?

Alysia asked:

“Do older female dogs experience doggie menopause? At what point is the risk greater than the benefit to spay an aged female? My 9 1/2 year old Komondor is having some weird symptoms I can’t figure out. I swear she was just in heat.”

Dr. Blakelock answers: Older intact female dogs are at risk for pyometra (infected uterus), which is life threatening and requires immediate surgery. Any changes warrant an examination by your veterinarian. As far as risk versus benefit if a dog is otherwise healthy than there should be minimal risk with spaying, while being intact is being at continuous risk for a pyometra.

What are the risks and benefits of extensive dental treatment on an older dog?

Shannen asked:

“What are the risks and benefits of extensive dental treatment on an older (8+ years) dog? What are some things to try to improve dental health in general?”

Dr. Crocker answers:

Great question, Shannen!

This is an important topic because dental disease affects approximately 80% of dogs and cats, and many times it goes unnoticed by the pets’ owners.

If a pet is suffering from dental disease, usually the benefits of providing relief outweigh the risks. People are often concerned about the general anesthesia required to treat dental disease in pets. However, age by itself is not generally considered to be a risk factor. If your pet’s overall health is good, heart is normal, and testing reveals normal organ and bone marrow function, anesthetic risk is very low when performed with appropriate safety measures. Benefits of treating diseased teeth include improved energy level, improved quality of life, better breath, and removal of pain.

Pain is a tricky thing to measure in pets. Pets with dental disease will often suffer in silence and show minimal or no outward signs of distress. Dogs feel pain just like we do, they just don’t show their pain in obvious ways. So if a tooth root infection would hurt you, you can bet it will hurt your pet.

One reason I am so passionate about providing good dental health to pets is that I have seen first-hand the sometimes dramatic improvements in pets’ lives I can give them by treating their dental problems.

The best things owners can do to promote their pets’ dental health are to begin brushing their pets’ teeth early in life, while developing a strong routine to continue throughout the pet’s life, and to have their pets examined at least annually by their veterinarians to look for hidden signs of dental disease.

More #askbiggervet
  • #askbiggervet – October 15, 2014 (10/15/2014) - This edition of #askbiggervet is all about senior pets! Get answers to your questions about abnormal breathing, spaying older female dogs, and dental care for seniors!
  • #askbiggervet – September 24, 2014 (9/21/2014) - In this edition of #askbiggervet, we tackle itching, picky eaters and the importance of year-round heartworm prevention!
  • #askbiggervet – September 11, 2014 (9/11/2014) - In the first edition of #askbiggervet, we're taking on how to dose flea, tick & heartworm prevention, how much to feed your cat, how far is too far to run with your pup, and more!

#askbiggervet – September 24, 2014

In this edition of #askbiggervet, we tackle itching, picky eaters, and the importance of year-round heartworm prevention!

Why is my dog itching?
Marietta Hail-Leesemann asked:

“my Maltese Shih Tzu has been treated with frontline every month and was checked for fleas and ticks and scratching insistently. I tried an apple cider vinegar rub and no relief ?”

We know how terrible itching can be! There can be many potential causes of itching besides fleas, and they are very much individual to the pet. Environmental or food allergies, behavioral issues, along with fleas and other pests can all cause problem itching. We have seen certain products simply not work the same for all pets. If you’re still seeing fleas give us a call and we can try another product. If the itching is still bothering him, we recommend having him seen for an accurate diagnosis so we can get him feeling better quick.

How do you convince a finicky senior pet to eat?
Jason Knippen asked:

“How do you get a senior dog to ear their food. They still beg for human food and treats but not dog food even when mixed with wet food.”

It’s very frustrating when a pet refuses to eat! If you are concerned that your dog is not eating enough of their food to have a balanced diet, please call and talk to your doctor, but here are some general tips for picky eaters:

  • Dogs tend to eat more readily when food is offered only at set times each day, and not left out all the time.
  • Adding warm water to dry food may entice a picky eater even if mixing it with wet food is not doing the trick. Pet stores also sell gravies that are just for pets and can be added to kibble, with a more potent scent and flavor than wet food. Sometimes senior pets need a bit of a stronger smell and taste to entice them.
  • Dogs will hold out for a long time if they know that you’ll eventually cave and bring out the treats or people food. At treat time, try using their regular kibble instead.

If these tricks don’t work please let us know and we can make some other suggestions.

Why do dogs need heartworm prevention year-round?
Zach Butts asked:

“I have a hard time understanding why do dogs need heartworm prevention in the winter when Mosquitos aren’t around”

GREAT question, Zach!

The most important reason is that there are many stages of the heartworm life cycle, some of which can’t be treated by the prevention products.

A gap in preventative use can allow an immature heartworm infestation (which may not have shown up on a heartworm test) to progress to a point where the prevention, when resumed, is ineffective or actually dangerous to the pet.

Of course, we also know that the weather in Ohio is erratic (to say the least!) and it’s hard to predict when mosquitoes may or may not be present in the environment – indoor or outside.

Most heartworm preventatives also protect against intestinal parasites, so if you are using one of those, it makes even more sense to continue year-round.

Heartworm disease can be fatal, even if treated and is really very hard on the dogs that get it.

More #askbiggervet
  • #askbiggervet – October 15, 2014 (10/15/2014) - This edition of #askbiggervet is all about senior pets! Get answers to your questions about abnormal breathing, spaying older female dogs, and dental care for seniors!
  • #askbiggervet – September 24, 2014 (9/21/2014) - In this edition of #askbiggervet, we tackle itching, picky eaters and the importance of year-round heartworm prevention!
  • #askbiggervet – September 11, 2014 (9/11/2014) - In the first edition of #askbiggervet, we're taking on how to dose flea, tick & heartworm prevention, how much to feed your cat, how far is too far to run with your pup, and more!

#askbiggervet – September 11, 2014

In the first edition of #askbiggervet, we’re taking on how to dose flea, tick & heartworm preventionhow much to feed your cathow far is too far to run with your pup, and more!

What is the best way to give your pet a flea/heartworm pill?
Mike asked:

“What is the best way to give your pet a flea/heartworm pill?”

Good question Mike. We know how hard this can be! Most of these pills need to be given with food, so use that in your favor. Offer them their pill in a delicious treat, right before their meal, so they are hungry and eager to eat.

If the traditional pill pocket style treat doesn’t work we suggest hiding the pill in a bit of bread, cheese, peanut butter, or even a marshmallow! You can try cutting the pill in half or quarters and giving it in smaller bites if need be. You might try offering a treat without the pill first as a “decoy”.

If this still doesn’t work or your pet has dietary restrictions ask your veterinarian for other options.

How do you know how much to feed your cat a day?

Jenice asked:

“How do you know how much to feed your cat a day?”

Another great question. While you can certainly start with the recommendations on the bag or cans, many cats have other needs to consider.

We customize feeding plans that take into account your pet’s current weight, ideal weight, age, lifestyle, and what you prefer to feed. That way we can meet both the needs of you and your cat!

We can send you a custom feeding plan today – it’s free – or we can put one together at your next visit.

Does filtered water help with bladder crystals?

Deborah asked:

“My cat get crystals in his bladder, he is on CD Hill’s Prescription Diet Urinary Tract Health food. I have been told from a friend that the crystals form due to calcium in faucet water. Is this true and if so what water is best for him? Would a pur water filter hooked up to my faucet be something that would take out the calcium?”

Deborah, while a water filter certainly won’t hurt, we don’t have any studies telling us it makes a difference in these cases. What we do have is lots of science behind how the prescription diets prevent cats from forming crystals.

However, because we want cats that form crystals to drink more water, our best suggestion is to offer the water he thinks tastes best! We find that many cats prefer a recirculating water fountain and recommend that owners try this to get their cats to drink more.

How far can my puppy run with me?

Jodi asked:

“Is 2 miles too long of a distance to jog with my 8 mos pit/lab mix puppy? She tolerates it well then still has energy to play at home, but I don’t want to harm her bones/growth?”

This is a really good question Jodi and we’re so happy that you’re including your sweet pup in your exercise routine!

When exercising outdoors with your dog you want to consider the same factors you would if you were exercising alone: temperature, hydration, paying attention to your body, and working up longer distances slowly.

The one additional thing you need to think about is the ground. Dogs can burn their paw pads on hot pavement, and if they aren’t used to running outside their pads may be tender and will need to toughen over time. Keep walks short or stick to the grass if the pavement is hot or they’re new at outdoor exercise.

You want to make sure they have the fitness and strength to handle the exercise. Most importantly, have fun and don’t forget to bring a baggie for potty break cleanups!

More #askbiggervet
  • #askbiggervet – October 15, 2014 (10/15/2014) - This edition of #askbiggervet is all about senior pets! Get answers to your questions about abnormal breathing, spaying older female dogs, and dental care for seniors!
  • #askbiggervet – September 24, 2014 (9/21/2014) - In this edition of #askbiggervet, we tackle itching, picky eaters and the importance of year-round heartworm prevention!
  • #askbiggervet – September 11, 2014 (9/11/2014) - In the first edition of #askbiggervet, we're taking on how to dose flea, tick & heartworm prevention, how much to feed your cat, how far is too far to run with your pup, and more!