Feline Diseases: Should You Be Worried About FIV and FeLV?

There are core and non-core vaccinations available for cats, and your veterinarian can help you to determine the best course of action for your pet.

Non-core vaccinations, such as those for feline leukemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are typically recommended based on lifestyle. If your cat is regularly exposed to the outdoors, these vaccines are worth considering.

What Is FIV?

Feline immunodeficiency virus affects the body’s ability to normally respond to an immune response. Similar to the way HIV can lead to AIDS in humans, an FIV-positive cat has specific challenges related to the immune system. Typically transmitted through bite wounds sustained in cat fights, proactive, effective treatment can help a cat live comfortably with FIV for some time.

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Senior Pet Celebration: How To Take Great Care of Your Senior Pet

When you have a senior pet, one of the most important things to remember is this: dying isn’t optional, but suffering can be. In other words, older pets can still enjoy life, be active and pain free, and stay healthy for weeks, months, or even years to come. And your veterinarian can help make this happen.

Working with us in the golden years of a pet’s life can make that precious time happy and healthy for both of you. 

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Training an Older Dog: Is it Possible?

An elderly man praises an adult chocolate lab in a beautiful outdoor park setting.

There are many great reasons to adopt an older dog. Perhaps not surprisingly, the absence of housetraining ranks pretty high. Sure, there might be accidents in the very beginning of your new relationship, but once you train them to go at certain times (and only in designated areas!) a new-to-you adult or senior dog will find their way. 

But this brings up other questions about their behavior. What if you adopt an adult dog that is set in their ways; can you retrain or re-socialize them? Of course! Training an older dog is absolutely possible, and maybe even easier than with a much younger animal.

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Tough Pill to Swallow? Pill Pockets (and Other Schemes) To Change the Game

If you’ve ever watched a vet or tech administer medication, it can look remarkably easy. That is, of course, until you try it at home. The animal in need of a pill seems to have found a new hiding spot, or catches a whiff of the “yucky stuff” and protests with clenched jaws. You might be able to fool them by mixing their medication in with their food or, better yet, a special treat, but their cleverness always prevails. Half-eaten dishes or discarded treats may reveal that they managed to eat around the pill. 

Fortunately, pill pockets and other trickery offer great solutions to getting a picky pet to take their medicine. 

Miss a Dose?

When animals miss doses of necessary medication designed to heal or safeguard health, progress can be upended, or they can be exposed to certain health complications. It’s important that they consistently receive the right dose at the correct time. 

Saving Time and Money

Ensuring that your pet receives their timely medication reduces the negative impact of missed doses on their overall health – and your wallet. Administering medication at home doesn’t have to be fraught with confusion, frustration, or unfortunate results. 

Pill Pockets

Animals are highly food-motivated. As long as you are able to successfully mask the look and smell of medicine, most pets will happily gobble up whatever you’re trying to give them. And if peanut butter gobs or chicken meat bundles aren’t their jam, look no further than the ingeniousness of modern-day pill pockets.

Disguised Dosages

Masking the scent of unsavory, bitter, or bland medication is as easy as inserting a pill into a pocket of tasty goodness. Greenies Pill Pockets are always a safe bet. Simply squeeze the treat around a pill and watch the magic go down! 

Other Cheats

Sure, some pets don’t think twice about eating garbage or feces, but try to give them a pill and they turn up their nose. 

  • Show them a pill in one hand. 
  • Let them sniff it. 
  • Cover up another pill in a squished up gob of grated cheddar or unsweetened peanut butter. 
  • Give them a choice to either eat the pill straight, or the delicious treat that happens to be medication in disguise. 

You can try grinding up the pills into a powder and sprinkling it on their food, but make sure to check with your veterinarian first. This method can have mixed results (and it’s crucial they get their full dose every time).

Watch and Learn

If pill pockets don’t work, and they aren’t taking the bait on any other treats, use a pill dispenser or gently use your own hands:

  • Place the pill between your thumb and forefinger.
  • Gently pull back on your pet’s head to straighten out their neck.
  • Open their mouth and carefully drop the pill at the back of the throat (where the back of the tongue meets the palate).
  • Sweetly rub the throat in a downwards motion to help the pill go down.

Please let your Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital team know if you need help with pill pockets or other methods for safe, successful medication administration. Some prescriptions can be given trans-dermally or in compounds from special pharmacies.
The relationship between you and your pet will stay strong when you give them great alternatives for taking medicine or supplements they need. Good luck!

Is Your Senior Cat Lonely?

There are different reasons to consider adopting another cat, but if you already have an aging feline at home you’d be correct to take pause over the decision. It’s possible your senior cat is out of sorts if they’ve recently lost a friend or littermate, but introducing them to another pet won’t replace their buddy. What’s more, the situation could be fraught with territorial tension that could profoundly stress them out.

All this doesn’t mean your cat wouldn’t benefit from another pal. Instead, with a lot of love, patience and encouragement it could be the best choice of all.

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Special Care for Senior Cats: How to Provide Some Extra TLC For Your Senior Cat

It used to be that an eight year old cat was considered a senior. But with better nutrition, indoor living, and preventive health care, cats are now regularly living into their teens and twenties. Making that time together the best it can be is one of our most important goals at Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital.

Senior cats do tend to be less active and playful, have a harder time getting to their favorite places, and may lose weight. Don’t chalk up behavior or health changes to old age, however. Getting older is not a disease, and physical changes can be often be attributed to health problems and/or dental problems that we can address and treat.

Aging in Cats

Because aging changes happen gradually – without you even noticing them, perhaps – we recommend seeing your older cat twice per year so that we can catch small problems and treat them before they become advanced. Cats are masters at hiding signs of disease, so the quicker we catch these problems, the better your cat can feel.

Special Care for Senior Cats

In addition to routine preventive care exams, there are some simple things you can do to help your cat enjoy her golden years.

Some like it warm – cats like warm places, so make sure your senior cat has a bed or other comfortable resting spots in a warm part of your house. They may have more trouble moving away from discomfort, however, so think warm, not hot.

Easy access – senior cats may have trouble getting to food, water, and their litter box if these places are accessed by stairs, high on perches, or even behind a baby gate or a cat door. Arthritis may play a role as well. Pay attention to any eating, drinking, or litter box changes and assess whether difficulty getting there is having an impact.

It’s a good idea to have a litter box on each floor of your home for easy access, since older felines may also have reduced control over bowels and bladder.

Help her get there – senior cats love their special places but may have trouble getting up to a favorite window sill or perch. You can create box steps or a ramp for cats who can no longer jump up to their special spot. Make sure footing is secure and non-slip.

Gentle grooming – senior cats can benefit from a little help from you in the grooming department. Use a soft brush to remove loose hairs and stimulate circulation. Plus, it just feels good for your cat, and improves your bond. Keep in mind that a sudden lack of grooming may signal a health problem.

Play – although getting a rambunctious kitten for your older cat is not recommended, keep your senior playful with a feather wand, playing “fetch” with dry kibble, or mixing up crinkle mice toys with other novel toys.

Night light – older cats may have waning vision, so you can install a night light for her to help her get her bearings at night. If your cat is blind, try to keep her surroundings consistent (by not moving furniture).

Attention to the basics – good nutrition is important for cats at any stage of life. But senior cats can benefit from a little attention to this necessity. A high quality diet has been shown to improve health and longevity, so talk to us about the best fit for your cat.

Creatures of routine – just like older people, older cats can derive comfort from their normal daily routine. Senior cats may become more dependent on relationships, so make sure to carve out some time every day to spend quality time with her.

As our cats age, they can definitely benefit from a little extra TLC. Special cats (and they are all special, in our book!) deserve special senior care. If you have any questions or need assistance with any of the ideas above, please don’t hesitate to call us. We’re here to help you make your cat’s golden years the best they can be!

Boning Up On Senior Pet Health

Senior pet health is important to senior pet care

If cats and dogs aged at the same rate that humans do, we’d be able to live with our best friends for much longer. Unfortunately, they age about 7 times faster than us, or approximately 7 years for every one of ours.

The good news is that with routine preventive care and early screening of age-related diseases, senior pets over the age of 7 years old are living longer, more complete lives. Growing older is a natural part of life, and with a proactive approach to senior pet health, special pets can live far into their golden years.

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Hearts of Gold: Adopting a Senior Pet

Shelter for homeless dogsMany animal lovers are aware of the fact that senior pets are often the last to be adopted, remaining in shelters for weeks, months, or even longer.

That’s why our team wants to take a moment to highlight how wonderful adopting a senior pet can be. They bring so much love and happiness to a home – we know you won’t regret your decision!

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