Keeping Cats Indoors. (a really good way to have a senior cat!)

Did you know that the life expectancy of an outdoor cat is only about half of that of an indoor cat?Indoor Cats Live Twice As Long As Outdoor Cats!

It’s true, and there are many contributing factors to this statistic.  Among them are predators, cars, disease and cruel people (they could come under the heading of predators I know, but they are a category unto themselves in my world.)

For some cats who have been allowed outside, the transition to living indoors needs to be gradual.  For others, you can shut the door and keep it shut for them, and they will be fine.

If your kitty is missing the great outdoors, try integrating some of the following:

First and foremost for all cats, spaying and neutering is a must.  Along with controlling the pet population of millions of unwanted cats in shelters and who are euthanized, spaying and neutering will reduce the urge to wander.

Bring the outdoors in.  Do you have a screened porch or an area with a large window?  Try setting up an inviting area for your cat to lounge and watch the great outdoors.  True, he may miss being out in the grass, but he will live a longer, healthier life.  You can give him some grass indoors.  There are kits you can buy so you can grow cat grass they can sniff and nibble.

Get a video of squirrels or birds for your cat to enjoy.  Not only will he be safe, but the wildlife population in your yard will be grateful, too!

Play with your cat.  Cats need and appreciate attention and mental stimulation.  It may be on their terms, but will some effort on your part, you will be able to find an activity that you can enjoy together.  Catnip toys that can be hidden or tossed give your cat exercise and give him some fun playtime with you.

Remember that an outdoor cat is exposed to all kinds of poisons.  There is always the danger of ingesting anti-freeze which tastes sweet.  Poisoning from antifreeze happens to dogs and cats all the time.  It doesn’t take much for it to be toxic, and it will cause serious kidney damage or death.  An additional risk is the poison we humans put on our lawns in the effort to have “the best lawn” in the neighborhood.  Eating grass that’s been treated with a “round-up” type product can be devastating for your kitty.

Don’t  discount malicious humans as a danger to your cat.  Cats are sometimes stolen; then who knows what will happen to them.  Mistreatment at the hands of sick individuals, a life in a research lab, etc. are all possibilities.  As Halloween approaches, be especially careful if you have a black cat.  They are still discriminated against and are in danger, especially in October.

Black Cats need extra care and protection during October

Put these ideas to work, and plan on having a healthy senior cat for many years to come!

May Your Dog or Cat’s Golden Years be Golden!

Cheryl Major

Cheryl Major

 

 

 

 

 

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No title…just trying to blog again while missing my senior dog, Chloe

It’s been a long hiatus, and I’ve decided to get back to my seniordogsandcats blog.

We lost our 17 ½ year old shelter dog, Chloe, on February 12, 2013.  We adopted her from the Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury, MA where I was (and still am) a volunteer.  She was 4 ½ at the time, and we had 13 wonderful years with her.  Chloe was not a couch potato, nor was she a dog who would hang back and relinquish center stage or the spot light.  She was always front and center, into everything and interested in everything.  She was an integral part of the three of us, Rob, Chloe and me, and I will always be grateful I was volunteering the morning they brought her in and surrendered Chloe... her last Christmas with usher to Buddy Dog.

It was love at first sight.  My dogs usually find me, and she certainly did.

This blog was started as a documentary of her later years and of the health issues and remedies we discovered along the journey.  While Chloe was remarkably healthy until her last week, we did make some adjustments along the way adding supplements and some alternative therapies like chiropractic and acupuncture.

When the journey ended, it was unthinkable to continue to write about senior dogs and cats.  Although we still tear up when we talk about Chloe, and we light a candle for her every day, my heart tells me it’s time to start paying homage to the senior pets we love and cherish by sharing insights and secrets learned along the way that may help others  enjoy and extend their pets golden years.

I know we will have a dog again, but it’s too soon.  Baby steps, I guess.  I don’t think Chloe would mind; in fact, I’ve always said to adopt again as soon as you are able is the greatest tribute to a dog or cat you have loved so much.  I know it’s just too soon…

May Your Dog or Cat’s Golden Years be as Golden as Chloe’s Were…Chloe at 17

Cheryl Major

 

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Your Senior Dog and Rimadyl (be very, very careful…)

Your Senior Dog and Rimadyl can be a tricky combination…be aware, watchful and very, very careful!

This will be a short, but important blog post.

About a month ago, we put our 17 year old dog on Rimadyl to help her with mobility and arthritis discomfort.  We only gave her half the recommended dose, did the blood work prior to and two weeks after starting her on the drug.  This is necessary to be sure the dog’s liver can tolerate the Rimadyl.

Her blood panels were fine, so we continued.  Her eating habits had changed a bit after she turned 17, but she was still eating well and looking energetic and fit.  Into the third week on the medication, she stopped wanting to eat.  We continued giving her the Rimadyl to help with her pain.

Sunday morning, Chloe started having diarrhea which continued until afternoon, when we gave her a Flagyl to help settle down her gastro intestinal track.

After a trip to the vet yesterday, it was decided the Rimadyl had at the very least upset her stomach and intestines and may have even started a stomach ulcer.

With her decreased food intake, the Rimadyl has the same effect on Chloe as a person taking Ibuprofen over and over on an empty stomach.  Not a good thing.  It’s an important fact pet parents with dogs on Rimadyl need to keep in mind.

While we struggle to stabilize Chloe and try to get her eating again, I wanted to post this blog in the hope it may help another dog parent avoid the trauma and upset of this result.  Our vet is wonderful, and has switched her to another pain medication.

The next day or two will be critical, and we are optimistic Chloe will rally and look forward to another year of summertime walkies!

 

 

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Your Senior Dog…He’s Been Keeping You Healthy All These Years (he’s your “pet prescription dog”)

Take a health break...spend time with your dog!Did you know having a pet is good for your health?

Research has shown that interacting with a pet, whether furry or not, is good for your heart, your stress level and your health in general.  In fact, this research goes so far as to indicate people who have pets are more likely to survive heart disease.

Having a pet in our lives gives us a sense of purpose and of unconditional love and acceptance.  Who doesn’t occasionally drag themselves in the door after a challenging or frankly awful day out in the world to be greeted by (in my case) your dog?  To her, I am the best thing since sliced bread, and not just because I’m about to feed her.  To her, it doesn’t matter that I dropped a ball or two at work or that I was in a bad mood.  I’m the best, and she lets me know it.

When we stroke our dog or cat’s fur, it lowers our blood pressure and gives us a sense of calmness and well being.  If we are impatient with them (and we should never be, but we are humans…), they are forgiving, and they don’t hold grudges.

Petting your dog or cat can affect the level of several chemicals in our bodies and benefit us greatly!  Cortisol, a chemical which is released by stress and is very damaging to our health, can be reduced; dopamine, which helps us feel happier can be increased; immunoglobulin A which bolsters the immune system can be increased.

Amazing though it is, we humans think we care for our pets and we do, but they give back in ways we are still learning about.

The next time you are having a bad day, do something good for your health!  Give yourself a break…stop, take a few slow, deep breaths and pet your dog or cat!

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Senior Dogs and the Weather…(be careful, and be kind!)

Extreme cold is not good for long periods of time

My usual rant about dogs in general and the weather happens in the summertime when it never fails I end up calling the police at least once to get a dog out of a closed car, or a car where people thought it was ok to leave the windows “cracked” a little.

This winter has been so extremely cold for our area, especially compared to last winter (which was a free pass on the gas bills), that I am moved to write about your pets and the cold.

It’s now illegal in many states to leave a pet in a car in the summer; I think it should be illegal to leave a pet outside in the extreme cold as well.

To anyone doing this or considering doing this, I would suggest putting on a light coat and going outside without boots or gloves for a few hours and seeing how you like it and how you feel.

All dogs, especially older dogs, dogs with low body fat and those battling disease should be kept from prolonged exposure to cold temperatures.  An irregular heartbeat, trouble breathing, and impaired consciousness to the point of coma may result, so this not coddling or being a softie; this is a serious health risk for your pet.

There are three levels of Hypothermia, mild, moderate and severe, and the symptoms and treatment you would have to provide vary according to the level of the animal’s trouble.

Mild hypothermia is characterized by weakness and shivering and can be accompanied by a lack of mental alertness.  A moderate problem would involve stiffness of the muscles, shallow breathing, low blood pressure; the dog can appear to be in a state of stupor.  With severe hypothermia , the animal would be having trouble breathing, pupils would be fixed and dialated and he could be in a coma.

Mild hypothermia can be treated with blankets to prevent further heat loss, while moderate hypothermia requires active external re-warming with a hot water bottle, microwaved heat packs or a heating pad.  Apply the heat source to your dog’s body, but be sure to put a protective layer between the heating pad and his skin to protect him from burns.. For severe hypothermia, invasive core warming will be necessary, so you’ll need to involve your vet if this is the case.

Hypothermia can be prevented by avoiding prolonged exposure to cold temperatures, so be careful and be kind!

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A Special Senior Dog – One Awesome Story of Love of a Senior Dog (and it’s true!)

A warm coat for a cold day!A few weeks ago, my husband and I were antiquing in one of our favorite local haunts.  This shop often sends out coupons and has sales which makes me love them even more!  Plus, the shop owner is a hoot!!

This particular chilly Saturday, there was a man there with an obviously older dog in a sweater.  The man was busy chatting with the store owner, and the dog just seemed happy to be hanging out with them.

As I can’t seem to help myself where animals are concerned, especially dogs, I asked the man about the dog.  He was obviously a sweetie…the dog, that is…and I said so!

The man explained the dog’s name was Duncan, and that he had been his Aunt’s dog.  His aunt had passed away a year or so ago, and the man had taken Duncan in as his own.  His reason was that if he hadn’t, Duncan would have spent the rest of his life without his family.  My kind of guy…

To so many people, animals are disposable.  I was so touched by the man’s obvious love and attachment to Duncan and his concern that Duncan shouldn’t lose his family.

It is my fondest wish that more animals be treated like family members and that more Duncans in the world find forever homes with the families they love so much.

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Your Senior Dog and Eating Habits (they can surprise you!)

Chloe, a 17 Year Old Mixed BreedWow…It’s been an adjustment going from living with a dog who would eat absolutely anything and eat it in a flash to living with a very senior dog with health challenges who won’t eat until she’s famished by the evening, and then, if you find something she will eat, won’t eat it for more than a couple of days in a row.

Changing a dog’s diet quickly and often is breaking what is just about Rule #1 on the “how to feed your dog” list.  It’s supposed to mess with their digestive systems really badly and can make them pretty sick, give them intestinal problems…you get the picture.

Now, we are faced with a very picky eater who has turned her nose up at hamburger, chicken, turkey, liver, brown rice, (we gave up on the high grade kibble ages ago).  A few days ago, out of desperation, I grilled her a Panini, which she ate ravenously.  Next day, made her another Panini…no way, turn her nose up and walked away.

She’s losing weight too, and because she has cancer (a benign cancer in her lung cavity), the weight loss is of great concern.

This morning she ate blueberries.  That was it.  By tonight, we’ll keep our fingers crossed that the little can of “beef stew” that seems to be working does the trick again.

We’ve had her on a cancer diet or a reasonable facsimile for the past year, so until a couple of weeks ago, she’s mostly eaten a small amount of high grade kibble, animal protein, brown rice, millet or quinoa and raw or lightly steamed broccoli.

This has worked well for the past year, and has kept her in very good health for her age (well past 17!) despite the diagnosis of cancer we got over a year ago.

Living with a Senior Dog or Cat can be a roller coaster ride.  Some days good; some days, not so much.  We’ll keep working with Chloe to keep as many of those days good and to keep her eating!

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Buddy Dog Humane Society, Senior Dogs and Cats and TV

NECN Adopt a Pet Segment for Buddy Dog Humane SocietyI have long been affiliated with The Buddy Dog Humane Society in Sudbury,MA.

What began as a timid visit to see if I could even bear to do volunteer work back in the 1990s morphed into regular volunteering doing dog walking and some behavioral training…for the dogs and, in truth, for me…

One afternoon when I was at the shelter walking dogs, the shelter director came out of his office and announced he had just gotten a call from New England Cable News (NECN) the major regional news station for our New England States.

They had a cancellation for their Adopt-a-Pet segment for the following morning and wanted to know if Buddy Dog had someone who could fill in.  No one else stepped up, so I said “Sure.  I’ll do it!”

What I didn’t realize at the time was that it meant getting up at 4 am, driving a half hour to Buddy Dog, trying not to set off the alarm, which I did one time…picking up my guest dog or cat and driving another half hour to the TV station in Newton.

Over the next 12 years, I was privileged to be on live (and later taped) TV with a dog or cat who needed a home.  That 2-3 minute segment was instrumental in giving homeless dogs and cats who needed a little extra visibility a better chance to find a good, loving home.  Some of our dogs don’t present well in the shelter.  They can be depressed (a topic for another blog), or just too stressed by being in the shelter with all the noise and activity to show their true personalities.

I mostly showcased dogs who were older or who had special needs; occasionally I would have one of our rescue dogs from our Save a Sato program from Puerto Rico.  Sato is a slang term meaning “street dog”.  (again, a topic for another blog).

Eventually times and management changed, and sadly, the segment was discontinued.  It was a shame to have a regional TV station decide they could no longer donate 2 minutes of air time a week to help a homeless animal find a home.  During those many years, I was privileged to work with many wonderful on-air people and producers.

If you’d like to take a peek at one of the later segments, here is the link:

http://www.necn.com/07/16/10/Adopt-a-pet-Ginny/landing.html?blockID=272384

 

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Your senior dog or cat’s food and label reading (you should do it!)

Are you a label reader?  For yourself… for your dog, for your cat?

The more I write about senior dogs and cats, the more I realize I approach their health the same way I approach mine.  Carefully…very, very carefully.

Yesterday I received an email from a pet supply company from which I have purchased a number of products in the past.  The ad was for a cookie for dogs that quite accurately resembled an Oreo Crème Sandwich.  They looked delicious and also came vanilla and chocolate versions!

I decided to look at the ingredients and perhaps make a purchase for my dog.  I really like how you can pull up the label online now and see what’s in the product.

They all had either partially hydrogenated or hydrogenated oils.  Poison!  That’s what clogs up your arteries.  Why would you eat it or give it to your pet?

Equally alarming, these cookies were loaded with sugar!   Sugar, high fructose corn syrup, dextrose…all sugar no matter how you spin it.

Did you know inflammation is the leading cause of disease?  Sugar causes inflammation which is what turns on the different disease genes in our bodies; especially if we are prone to that disease.  I know, I know, some people can smoke, eat and drink whatever they want and live to be 100.  Do you feel lucky?  Do you think your dog is lucky?

Become a label reader; question ingredients.  Look up stuff online to find out what it is you’re putting in your body and in your pet’s body.  It is very often a rude awakening.

Advertising tells us what we should be eating and feeding our pets.  Do you really think the sugar lobby is doing what is in our best interest for our good health?

If you have any question at all…follow the money, baby.

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For Senior Dogs, Especially Over 10 Years Old, Sugar is Cancer Food… (It is for you, too…)

 Did you know sugar is cancer food?  Before you think I am nuts, think about this.  In laboratory tests, when cancer cells are fed sugar, they grow like crazy.

Sugar is present in many commercial dog foods, and in fact, is what keeps the soft and chewy food and treats soft and chewy.  Sugar also masks the flavors of real food; we are used to the taste of sugar instead of the actual flavor of the foods we are eating.  Same for your dog.

Lobbies are so powerful.  Don’t think for a minute your sugar consumption and that of your dog isn’t lining the pockets of someone in the sugar industry while it destroys your health and that of your pooch.

It’s a shame!

Most regular vets don’t think about diet when they are dealing with cancer in dogs, although they address other dog health issues with dietary changes and adjustments.  Allergies, digestion problems and weight gain all have their special “food” recipes…but not cancer.

Did you also know that cancer is now the number one cause of death in dogs?  1 in 3 dogs contract cancer at any age.  I have a good friend who lost her Kerry Blue Terrier at 9 to a virulent and very aggressive form of lung cancer.  Absolutely nothing could be done, and she tried both conventional and alternative therapies.  Did you also know that a dog over 10 years of age has a 50% chance of getting cancer?

My dog has cancer.  That’s what has led me on this search to try to figure out why it is so prevalent and is killing our dogs so frequently.  According to the Animal Cancer Foundation, there are 6 million cases of dog cancer annually!

We all need to wake up and get sugar out of our diets.  Get used to the way real food tastes, and get your dog off sugar, too.  He’ll live a longer, healthier life.

 

 

 

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