Category Archives: diet

Assisted Living For Animals: Senior Pet Tips From Kingsbrook Animal Hospital

At Kingsbrook Animal Hospital, we know our furry companions are more than just pets—they’re family members! Our animals live, sleep, eat, and play right alongside us, and they age with us as well. Just as aging can pose obstacles for humans, becoming a “senior” pet comes with some challenges too. Below, we’ll look at some of the common changes we see in our senior patients, and discuss what we can do at home (and at KAH!) to help make them more comfortable.

KAH technician Nora with her dog, Sam.

KAH technician Nora with her dog, Sam. Sam is almost 9 years old, and eats Hill’s j/d to help with her bones and joints!

One of the biggest changes we notice in senior pets is in their skeletal systems. Older bones and joints just don’t move like they used to, and patients may suffer from arthritis, hip dysplasia, or even a narrowing of the space between the bones of the spine. This can make getting up or lying down uncomfortable. Dogs may not want to jump up on the bed anymore or may have difficulty getting into the car; cats may spend less time on the top of the couch or in the window sills, preferring to nap in a sunbeam on the floor instead. To help with these problems, a joint supplement like Dasuquin® can help the pet’s body repair cartilage to reduce arthritis pain. Hills Prescription Diets offers j/d, a diet with glucosamine, chondriotin, and omega-3 fatty acids added in to help support aging joints.  Orthopedic foam beds are comfortable and provide good cushioning for achy pets. Stairs and ramps are available to make transitions in height easier on elderly pets. It’s also important to provide regular low-intensity exercise to keep pets mobile and active. Being sedentary increases stiffness in joints, and becoming overweight puts more stress on any patient’s bones.

KAH technician Lainey gently reassures Fuji as he wakes up from anesthesia.

KAH technician Lainey gently reassures Fuji   as he wakes up from anesthesia.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or pain medications can be prescribed by a veterinarian for long-term use in uncomfortable patients.

Another issue is hearing and vision loss. Aging pets often lose some of their hearing–which means it is harder to get their attention, but easier to startle them. Most pets will still respond to loud hand-claps or vibrations in the floor, but it’s best to approach deaf or partially-deaf pets slowly and gently to avoid a fear response. Dogs, especially, seem to lose some low-light vision and some depth perception as they get older. For these pets, steps and stairs become harder to navigate. Leaving lights on at night or teaching an older dog to begin sleeping downstairs can help to minimize falls and anxiety.

Even cats can go for walks! Make sure any pet that goes outdoors is receiving preventative medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

Even cats can go for walks! Make sure any pet that goes outdoors is receiving preventative medications for fleas, ticks, and heartworms.

Some pets will experience cognitive dysfunction or dementia as they age, which can manifest with symptoms much like Alzheimer’s disease in humans. These pets can become anxious, may stare into space or wander in circles, and sometimes will vocalize randomly and repeatedly. Occasionally, there may even be a break in house- or litterbox-training. Purina ProPlan (Bright Minds) and Hills Prescription Diets (B/D) both offer diets that can help with these symptoms, and there are many medications available with a veterinary prescription that will make pets with cognitive dysfunction more comfortable. Keeping pets engaged and stimulated with walks, playtime, and new activities will reduce some stress and anxiety. Providing extra potty breaks for dogs or extra litterboxes for cats can also help to mitigate some of these changes.

Weight Loss Success on Hill’s Prescription Diet T/D

 

When kitties Winter and Twilight Gronsky were brought in to Kingsbrook Animal Hospital by their owners for a routine examination back in 2014, Dr. Cardella noticed a pattern of weight gain. In January of 2014, Winter weighed 14.9 lbs. Twilight, also a domestic shorthair cat, weighed 14.44 lbs in February, 2014. The cat’s owners were feeding them a good quality food and measuring out their portions, but they were still too heavy.

Both Dr. Cardella and the cat’s parents were concerned that the gain in weight would start to affect the kitty’s health negatively. Studies have shown that there is an association between oral health issues and other health issues such as with the heart, kidneys and metabolic systems. Dr. Cardella suggested switching the cat’s diet to a prescription food and Winter and Twilight’s parents readily agreed. The prescription diet chosen was Hill’s Prescription Diet Feline T/d. T/d (Tooth diet) has very large-sized kibble that pet’s can’t swallow whole. They must chew the kibble to break them up small enough to swallow. Chewing the kibble allows it to scrape plaque and tartar off the teeth. So why did Dr. Cardella choose to prescribe a dental diet when these cats needed to lose weight? T/d has the additional benefit of being low in calories!

Dr. Cardella recommended feeding each cat ¼ cup of T/d twice daily. With their owner’s hard work and dedication, we are happy to report that both cats have lost weight! Way to go! In February, 2015 Winter weighed in at 10.85 lbs, and in March, 2015 Twilight weighed 10.98 lbs. Both cats are now at their ideal body weight! Their owners have done an amazing job with their weight loss challenge and report that both cats are much more active and happy now that they’ve lost weight. Now that both kitties are at their ideal weight, their fed portion size may be adjusted to help them to maintain their perfect physique. It’s not an easy task to help pets lose weight, but it leads to a happier, healthier pet. Winter and Twilight are so lucky to have such amazing pet parents.

Winter

Before: 14.9lbs

After: 10.85 lbs

Total weight lost: 4.05 lbs!

Twilight

Before: 14.44lbs

After: 10.98 lbs

Total weight lost: 3.46 lbs!

Here is Winter now! He is looking svelte as he explores one of our exam rooms.

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If you have questions about your pet’s weight, please call Kingsbrook Animal Hospital at: 301-631-6900

Less Food = Longer Life


Less is more when it comes to a long, healthy life. In a benchmark study, researchers found that Labrador Retrievers fed 25% less food than the normal guidelines lived about 2 years longer than those fed the “normal” amount. More suprisingly, they found that 77% of the “normal” Labs developed radiographic evidence of arthritis at age eight compared to only 10% of the calorie restricted dogs.. And 38% of the calorie-restricted dogs were still living after all the regular-diet dogs had passed. This study concluded that dogs fed fewer calories lived longer and had fewer health problems. Do your pet a favor and treade the treats for extra playtime. You just may add high-quality years to both of your lives.

Fetch Spring/Summer 2010