Enfield Veterinary Hospital
94 Coronation Parade
Enfield, NSW, 2136

Phone: 02 9747 3999
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To All the Friends of Enfield Vet and their Pets,

The focus of this month's newsletter is on senior pets. There is an article about Corduroy, the oldest living cat on earth - hearing is story exemplifies what a brilliant idea it is to adopt a senior cat. While on the topic of senior pets, this newsletter has some great tips on an all-round senior pet care.

Aside from information about the general management of senior pets, this newsletter goes into more detail about dental care for elderly pets and canine cognitive dysfunction (dementia) - these are both really important topics to be familiar with in the overall care of geriatric dogs and cats.

Finally, euthanasia is a really important, but often very confronting, topic that cannot be ignored in any discussion about elderly pets. It can be one of the most difficult decisions to know when it is the right time for a proper farewell for one of our muched loved pets. This newsletter article talks about some of these hard decisions and hopefully will be informative for anyone currently in that position. Remember - we are ALWAYS here for advice if you need help with anything like the issues mentioned above. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact us on 9747 3999.

The Team at Enfield Veterinary Hospital

never too old to be loved
Contents of this newsletter

01  Caring for a senior pet - our top tips

02  Who has bad breath?

03  Dementia can affect our pets too

04  Euthanasia - deciding when it's time

05  Reasons to adopt a senior cat

06  The oldest living cat

01 Caring for a senior pet - our top tips

You might not realise it but dogs and cats are considered senior citizens when they reach 8 years of age. Our furry senior friends require some extra special attention to help keep them happy and healthy.

Here's a few of our top tips for senior care.

1. A regular health check is absolutely essential for your ageing friend. Much can change over a year (equivalent to 6-8 years in human years) and a check up at least once a year will help us pick up on any changes and allow us to initiate a treatment plan, such as pain relief for arthritis.

2. Develop a keen eye for changes such as fluctuations in weight, appetite, thirst and urination. The presence of a cough, a change in sleeping habits, stiff joints and accidents around the house can all be a sign of underlying illness. Don't be tempted to just put these changes down to 'getting old'.

3. Diet: Our ageing pets have changing nutritional requirements. Older animals may be less able to cope with excessive nutrients or particular deficiencies. We recommend you feed your senior a complete and balanced premium food suitable for a mature pet. These help to maintain ideal body condition and will improve longevity. Ask us for a specific diet recommendation.

4. Lumps and bumps: It's a good idea to run your hands over your pet every week and feel for the presence of any lumps or bumps. If you find anything new or unusual, arrange a lump check with us as soon as possible.

Phone us if you have any questions about your senior pet, as we will always be able to give you the best advice.

02 Who has bad breath?

Does your dog have bad breath or are they reluctant to eat hard food? If yes, it might be the time to investigate whether your pet has dental disease and come in for a dental check with one of our vets. Dental disease is common in dogs older than 6 years old (although sometimes as yound as 2 years old). Periodontal disease can start from plaque formation and gingivitis (which is inflammation of the gums) and progress to tartar and abscess formation. The worst outcome would be loosening of the teeth and having to extract the teeth. Advanced dental disease can also lead to heart, lung, liver, kidney, skin and prostate infections.

Why bother dental home care?

Dental home care can help to reduce plaque formation and prevent periodontal diseases. The best dental home care is a multimodal care which involves tooth brushing, diet, raw bones and  commercial dental chews. Regular dental check and cleaning at the vet followed by intensive dental home care can minimize the chance of developing periodontal diseases.

1. Daily brushing can prevent tooth decay and loss of teeth. Bad breath comes from plaque, which is why brushing with a dry brush is as effective without toothpaste as with it. Yet, most dogs will see it as a treat if the toothpaste is poultry-flavoured.

However, DO NOT use human toothpaste which has xylitol and fluoride that are toxic to the dogs. Circular sweeping motion aiming to brush away from the gum line should be adopted to brush plaque from the sulcus.

2. Dental specific diets, e.g.Hills t/d and Royal Canin Dog and Cat Dental Kibble are available in the market which can help to mechanically remove the plaque.

3. Bones given to the dogs must be raw and with no cut surfaces. Supervise your dogs when bones are offered and throw away the bone after your dog stopped chewing or the bone has been excessively chewed.

4. Dental treats or chews e.g. Greenies, Dentastix, rawhide chews and pigs ears can help to remove the plaque on teeth and prevent calculus formation. However, keep in mind that extra treats can be calories burdensome for your senior pets.

Dogs and cats are in terrible pain if they are not eating, so don’t wait for signs of discomfort to appear before addressing the issue. If you are worried, please don’t hesitate to arrange a dental check up with us.

03 Dementia can affect our pets too

It is well known that ageing takes a toll on our entire body including our brain - and the same goes for our pets.

Research confirms that our pets can suffer from dementia and the disease that affects dogs (known as Canine Cognitive Dysfunction) has many similarities to Alzheimer's disease in humans.

Common signs of canine dementia may include:

  • Disorientation and confusion
  • Lack or decreased levels of interaction with family members or other pets
  • A disturbance in sleep patterns
  • Forgetting toilet training
  • Reduced activity levels

While canine dementia has been recognised for some time, there is now increasing evidence that cats may suffer from senility too and signs commonly include vocalising, lack of grooming, agitation and forgetting how to use the litter tray.

The most important point to remember is that there are many other diseases that can lead to any of the signs of dementia so diagnosis involves assessment of your pet and is a process of elimination. 

The best news is that we have have prescription diets and medication available that may help improve brain function. Ask us for more information.

04 Euthanasia - deciding when it's time

Euthanasia is a very difficult topic to think about but it's an important one, and something that we as veterinarians deal with every day.

Deciding when is the right time to euthanise a pet can be one of the most difficult decisions you'll ever make. Most of us hope we never have to make the decision and it would be nice if all of our pets passed away peacefully in their sleep at the right time. But the reality is that sometimes we have to make that decision for them.

There is never a 'right' or a 'wrong' decision and you know your pet better than anyone. We are here to support you through the process so please ask us if you have any questions. Sometimes talking about euthanasia can help you be better prepared for it (such as considering whether you will bury or cremate your pet).

People get concerned about euthanising a pet too early in case they perhaps have some 'quality life left' but something to consider is that 'a week too early may be better than an hour too late.' We as humans must be an animal's voice and euthanasia will relieve pain and suffering. In the end, this is the greatest gift we can give our pets.

05 Reasons to adopt a senior cat

If you are thinking of adding a feline friend to your family you should consider adopting a senior cat. Kittens may be fun and playful but they can be hard work! You'll find there are many hidden joys if you bring a senior 'kitty-zen' into your life. 

Here are our top reasons why you should consider adopting a senior cat:

  • A senior cat’s personality has already developed, so you’ll know if he or she is a good fit for your family and other pets
  • Senior cats are already toilet trained
  • Senior cats are quieter, more mature and make great napping buddies - they are the perfect companion
  • Senior cats are some of the hardest to find homes for - when you adopt a senior cat, you’re saving a life and most cats know it and will be grateful for a second chance.

We can point you in the right direction when it comes to adopting a senior pet - ask us for our recommendations.

06 The oldest living cat

According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest living cat is currently living in Oregon, USA. His name is Corduroy and he was born 1st August 1989, making him nearly 27 years old!

Corduroy, a handsome long haired tabby cat, has an astounding social media following with over 17.5K followers on Instagram (as well as Facebook and Snapchat accounts). Whoever said you can't teach an old cat new tricks was wrong!

You can read more about Corduroy here and watch a video on YouTube here.

If you think you have a cat that might rival Corduroy's claim to fame and have proof, you should visit the Guinness Book of Records website.