WND: While millions of people grapple with questions about what really happens when they die, now a brand-new book is probing what might actually happen to people’s beloved pets.
The title of the book asks the timeless question, “Do Our Pets Go to Heaven?” and features biblical analysis of the issue, along with amazing stories of pets that saved people and provided companionship as well as healing.
“I must admit I cannot recount the number of times when, as a pastor of more than two decades and as a public and media personality since, I have been approached by an adult or child – eyes filled with questions – who wanted to ask me very sincerely if I believed their pets would go to heaven,” says Tom Horn, who co-authored the book with Terry James and other contributors.
“It seems to be one of the biggest secrets in Christianity,” Horn continued, “that our Western mindset has made it difficult to discuss what people in other countries as well as theologians down through time believed to be an important and theological question. Most are also usually unaware that the Bible itself has some important things to say about the issue, and that many celebrated theologians and philosophers – past and present – concluded a long time ago based on these Scriptures that our pets most likely will be in heaven.”
Video: Do Our Pets Go To Heaven?
Ironically, the Bible itself doesn’t even say the ultimate reward of saved men and women will be floating on clouds in the sky, but it does indicate Jesus Christ will raise His true believers from the grave, grant them eternal life, return to the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem and rule with them here on planet Earth.
Yet there are plenty of verses in Scripture indicating the presence of animals in the coming kingdom of God.
The prophet Isaiah is famous for this future glimpse depicting people dwelling with animals, whose aggressive nature will have been reprogrammed and tamed by God in the kingdom:
“The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:6–9)
Horn writes in a chapter of his book:
Indeed, we find that God values His living artistry so much that He even made some of the angelic beings to reflect the animal’s faces (see Revelation 4:6–8; Ezekiel 10:14). In addition to their artistic value, God loves the company of these creatures to the point that not even a tiny sparrow falls to the ground that He doesn’t account for (Matthew 10:29). Another amazing example of God’s concern for animals comes from the story of Jonah, in which it appears that the people of Nineveh were spared destruction because God wanted to have mercy on their children and animals (see Jonah 4:11)! Of course, to the delight of my wife, Nita, God is an equestrian and has already filled Heaven with lots and lots of horses (Revelation 6:2–8; 19:11; 2 Kings 6:17). His Son, Jesus, will even return someday on one such horse (Revelation 19:11–14).
It is further written in the Bible that:
- God holds the lives of animals in His hands (Job 12:10).
- He, Himself, feeds them (Psalms 104:21–30; Matthew 6:26).
- They were created for His enjoyment (Revelation 4:11).
- God never forgets about them (Matthew 10:29; Luke 12:6).
- People who mistreat their pets are judged by Him as “cruel” (Proverbs 12:10).
- Those who treat their pets kindly are called “righteous” (Proverbs 12:10).
Horn notes the idea of pets in heaven is not some rogue notion among famous Christians, stating, “Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, Mark Hitchcock, Dr. David Reagan, and hundreds of other clergy and theologians agree that the chances are very good our pets will be in heaven.”
When Graham was once asked by a little girl whose dog had died that week whether her pet would be in heaven, he replied, “If it would make you any happier, then yes, he will be.”
Horn also cites verses in Scripture stating it won’t be just resurrected human beings offering praise to God in the future:
Animals are included with men as those who are commanded to praise the Lord! This was true in the Old Testament in places such as Psalms 148:10–13, where we read:
“Beasts, and all cattle; creeping things, and flying fowl: Kings of the earth, and all people; princes, and all judges of the earth: Both young men, and maidens; old men, and children: Let them praise the name of the Lord: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.”
And this amazing fact – that animals praise the Lord – will also be true in the future, as they are seen offering praise unto the Lamb of God extending into eternity in Revelation 5:13:
“And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.”
But the idea that pets go to heaven or have a similar reward to obedient human servants of God is certainly not ubiquitous among faithful believers who study the Bible.
Among them is Philip Shields, a Christian speaker and online host of LightontheRock.org, who stresses there’s a clear distinction in the book of Genesis at the time animals and mankind were created.
“Elohim (God) spoke all things – including animals – into existence,” he explained. “But to mankind only did He breathe His breath into. All humans have a spirit in man, and that spirit goes back to God after our death. But not animals’ spirits.”
He cites Ecclesiastes 3:21, which states: “Who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit (breath) of the beast that goeth downward to the earth?”
Shields says, “It is this spirit in man that gives us mind (Job 32:8), enabling there to be an interface with God’s spirit so we can understand godly things, which animals don’t. Animals have their own breath, ruach [in Hebrew], or spirit, but that goes back to the earth. Man is the only one that God did mouth-to-mouth on. That did not happen to hippopotamuses and alligators, or to dogs or cats. I think that’s an important distinction, that they don’t have the breath of God.”
“I’d love to think my beloved Duchess would be resurrected or something, but I don’t think so,” he added.
“And where do you draw the line? Are the bad animals – maneaters, for example – burning in hell? Is every cockroach or mongoose or tarantula up there, too, by the billions and trillions? How about the trillions of ants and mosquitoes? And if not, why not?”
Shields also asks rhetorically, “Did Christ die for animals, too? Can animals sin?”
Anyone searching the Internet for answers about pets going to heaven will find no shortage of posts on the matter.
ClarifyingChristianity.com offers a study on the matter, and agrees animals will be present in God’s coming kingdom. However, it points out “the question is ‘Were these animals new creations or do these animals include reborn earthly creatures?’”
By the end of its treatment, the site says, “The Bible is silent regarding an afterlife for animals. However, we do have one hope. The key passage for this question does not deal with animals directly, but rather God’s promise to those who inherit God’s kingdom – those people who have gotten right with God and will go to heaven themselves. For them, the passage in 1 Corinthians chapter 2 [verse 9] applies:
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, Nor have entered into the heart of man The things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’”
“Obviously, what God has prepared for us is wonderful beyond comprehension. Therefore, love your pets as much as you can while they are here. Those of us who go to heaven will later understand that everything worked out perfectly regarding our pets.”
December 3, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Adopt Just One More Pet, Dogs, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, We Are All God's Creatures | Billy Graham, books, cats and dogs, companion animals, Dog and God, dog health, dogs and cats, Dr. Alice Villalobos, Dr. Becker, dying pets, dying-well, end of life pet care, for the love of a pet, GOD and DOG, Heaven, JOMP, Just One More Pet, Love, pawspice, pet books, Pet Heaven, pet hospice, Pet Wills, Rainbow Bridge | 1 Comment
- The pet food industry in the U.S. is relatively young, which is surprising when you consider the vast and confusing array of pet food offerings available on the market. Prepared pet food has only been around for about 60 years, and has experienced most of its growth spurt in just the last 30 years.
- World War II introduced Americans to two things that have shown great staying power – dry pet food and processed human food, which would also ultimately have a tremendous impact on the pet food industry.
- After WWII, the U.S. enjoyed a period of tremendous growth and expansion in every direction. During those boom years, in response to the tremendous increase in consumer appetites, the human food industry created vast quantities of waste from slaughterhouses, grain mills, and processing plants. Pet food manufacturers – still in their infancy — immediately understood the unlimited opportunity of human food waste to their industry. By 1960, pet food companies had figured out how to mass-produce dry pet food to meet growing consumer demand for pet “convenience” foods.
- There’s a problem, however. Carnivorous dogs and cats have not evolved to digest and assimilate the primary ingredients in the vast majority of commercially prepared pet foods. As a result, for over a half-century we’ve created dozens of generations of animals that suffer from degenerative diseases linked to nutritional deficiencies.
- To be optimally healthy, dogs and cats need unadulterated, fresh, moisture-rich whole foods. They don’t need grains, fillers, artificial preservatives, colors, additives, chemicals, or byproducts. Although animals can eat some processed foods, they aren’t designed to consume a lifetime of dry or canned diets.
By Dr. Becker
Commercially prepared pet food in the U.S. has a relatively short (less than 100 years), but interesting history. Believe it or not, the only food made exclusively for pets prior to the early 1920s were dog biscuits!
During the 1920s and ‘30s, the pet food market began to expand a bit. Americans with enough money to purchase their pet’s food could find dehydrated, pelleted and canned formulas made from meat and grain mill scraps. But most pets were still fed primarily raw meat and table scraps, plus whatever food they hunted for themselves.
The Great Depression of the 1930s and early ‘40s had a significant impact on the growth of the commercial pet food market, however, lack of industry regulation invited anyone who wanted to make a buck to produce a can or bag of pet food. During that period, canned pet food accounted for over 90 percent of the market.
During World War II (1939 to 1945), not only was metal rationed, but pet food was categorized as “non-essential” by the U.S. government. The combination spelled death for the canned pet food industry. In addition, food rationing led to fewer table scraps. Pet owners who could afford to bought dry pet food or dog biscuits – the only commercially available products at the time.
Byproducts of WWII: Dry Pet Food and Processed Human Food
Unfortunately, the American pet owner’s love of dry pet food has endured well past the end of World War II. The war also sparked the processed food revolution in the U.S. Spam and similar products were developed in the 1930s to feed the troops abroad and to help with food rationing restrictions at home. All the factors that made processed food attractive to humans ultimately had a significant impact on the pet food industry as well.
The period after the end of WWII was a time of enormous economic growth and expansion in the U.S. Jobs were plentiful and more Americans were able to buy their own homes. As more families moved out of cities to suburbia, giant supermarkets replaced small grocery stores. Consumer demand for processed foods, for fast food – for food in general – kept pace with increases in educational and employment opportunities, individual wealth, and ever-expanding lifestyle options.
In responding to the tremendous increase in U.S. consumer appetites, the human food industry created vast quantities of agricultural scraps from slaughterhouses, grain mills, and processing plants. Pet food manufacturers immediately understood the unlimited opportunity of human food waste to their industry.
By 1960, Pet Food Companies Were Able to Mass-Market Kibble
It’s absolutely true — our pet population provides a place for recycling waste from the human food industry. Grains that fail inspection, uninspected pieces and parts of waste from the seafood industry, leftover restaurant grease, deceased livestock, and even roadkill is collected and disposed of through rendering — a process that converts all sorts of human food industry waste into raw materials for the pet food industry.
In the late 1950s, a U.S. pet food company developed a way to create kibble from boiling cauldrons of meat, fat and grain scraps – it’s called extrusion. The raw materials are purchased by pet food manufacturers who then blend the rendered fat and meat with starch fillers. They add bulk vitamin and mineral supplements, and then they extrude the mix at high temperatures, creating all sorts of toxic reactions including advanced glycation end products and heterocyclic amines. This is what passes for pet food and it’s sold to consumers at a tremendous profit.
This “advancement” in manufacturing allowed pet food companies to capitalize on the popularity of kibble. Now, they were able to mass-market the type of pet food most popular with U.S. pet owners due to its convenience and low cost.
Today, there are hundreds of kibbles, canned and semi-most dog and cat foods to choose from. This is remarkable, given that not quite 60 years ago, commercial pet food was almost unheard of.
Have We Chosen Convenience Over the Health of Our Pets?
No one really argues with the fact that in order for optimal health to occur, animals – including humans — must consume the foods they were designed to eat, and preferably whole, fresh and unadulterated. This is known as species-appropriate nutrition. For example, vegetarian animals must eat vegetation for optimal health. Carnivores must eat fresh whole prey for optimal health.
Carnivorous pets have not evolved to digest and assimilate foods like corn, wheat, rice or potatoes – yet these are the very foods the vast majority of pet food manufacturers use as primary ingredients in their formulas. Fortunately, dogs and cats are extremely resilient creatures. Not only do they not die immediately upon eating biologically inappropriate foods, but it often takes years before the significant physical degeneration that occurs from a lifetime of eating the wrong foods becomes noticeable.
One of the reasons we’re able to deceive ourselves into believing convenience pet foods are good for dogs and cats is because the changes to a pet’s health and vitality brought on by a dead, processed diet are usually not immediate or acute.
For over a half-century, our pets have been fed inappropriate diets that have kept them alive, but not thriving. In fact, we’ve created dozens of generations of animals that suffer from degenerative diseases linked to nutritional deficiencies.
Optimal Nutrition for Your Dog or Cat
Dogs and cats need quality protein, fats, and a small amount of vegetables and fruits, which provide antioxidants and fiber to animals that no longer hunt whole prey.
Natural sources of trace minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids must be added, since the soils in which foods are grown are depleted of many of the nutrients pets need. Also, food storage, whether it’s in a freezer or a pantry, decreases critical essential fatty acid levels in foods.
Pets need unadulterated, fresh, whole foods that are moisture dense. They don’t need grains, fillers, artificial preservatives, colors, additives, chemicals, byproducts, or processed foods. Although animals can eat some processed foods, they aren’t designed to consume a lifetime of dry or canned diets.
If you would like to learn more about the importance of fresh, whole, unprocessed diets for dogs and cats, I recommend you watch or read my three-part series on raw food diets for pets:
Part 1 — The Feeding Mistake Linked to the Cause of Most Disease-Are You Making It?
Part 2 — The Biggest Myths About Raw Food (And Why They’re Mostly Nonsense)
Part 3 – Common Feeding Mistakes That Can Harm Your Pet
You can also find a vast amount of additional information here at Mercola Healthy Pets on how to choose the best foods for your pet, and what foods to avoid.
Real meat is the best food for your dog….nothing else even comes close.
The best food for your dog is . . .
Real food. Fresh food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish. Fresh vegetables. Yogurt, eggs, cottage cheese.
No, this is not "people food." Calling real food "people food" makes it sound as though people are the only living creatures entitled to eat real food. That’s not true.
ALL living creatures deserve real, fresh food.
"You can boost your pet’s health profoundly by making one simple decision. All you have to do is change his diet from commercial-brand fare to something you may never have imagined giving him – real food. The fresh food you buy at the market for yourself is the food you should give your pet, too."
Generations of dogs lived to ripe old ages on fresh foods…before the pet food corporations came along and changed (ruined) everything.
Dog food corporations. "Just say no."
Dogs have been domesticated for about 15,000 years (that’s amazing, isn’t it?) and up until the 1930s, they were NEVER fed "kibble" or "canned" brands from a store. Dogs were fed real meat and vegetables, and a little homemade bread. On this diet they thrived, frequently living into their late teens.
Dogs didn’t eat kibble until the 1930s when the grain and meat industries needed a market for their rejects.
That all changed in the 1930s, when cereal and grain manufacturers were looking for something profitable to do with their rejected cereals and grain – their wheat and corn that failed USDA inspection because of mold, rancidity, and other contaminants.
These companies discovered that hey, the meat industry faced the same dilemma – meat that failed USDA inspection because it had spoiled or because the livestock was diseased.
The ingenious idea of mixing the rejects together and calling it "dog food" was born.
Marketing firms spent an enormous amount of money planting this lamentable idea in the public’s mind, and today commercial diets are promoted by multi-billion dollar pet food corporations and the veterinary industry, both of whom have a huge financial stake in getting you to feed these products.
But processed kibble and canned products were not then – nor are they now – "dog food."
Real dog food was, is, and always will be real food. That’s what your dog should be eating.
"The whole concept of Insta-Meal for humans is repulsive. Most people would soon be climbing the walls in frustration, desperate for a salad or some fruit – anything whole and fresh, or just different. Perhaps the thought of eating kibbles for the rest of your own life helps make the point that pets forced to do so are being shortchanged. All of us – humans and animals – should have fresh, wholesome, unprocessed food in our daily diet.
The awful ingredients in commercial "dog food"
Virtually all dog food brands are heavily based on fibrous grains and cereals. But dogs do not have the long, winding digestive tract required to digest fibrous grains and cereals. Dogs have a short straight digestive tract designed to digest meat.
Many dogs who eat corn, soybeans, or wheat develop health problems.Excessive shedding or dandruff. Loose stools. Gassiness and flatulence. Itchy skin, where your dog licks his feet or rubs his face against the carpet, trying to ease the itch. You might never think to associate these problems with the grain in your dog’s diet, but that is often the case.
To make matters worse, GOOD grain is reserved for the human market. What goes into the pet food bin is deemed unfit for human consumption because of mold, rancidity, or contaminants – yuck!
Unless a dog food brand says its meat passed USDA inspection…it didn’t.
Contrary to what the dog food companies show you on TV commercials, your dog doesn’t get sirloin from a healthy cow who spent its life cropping grass, nor does he get white chicken breast from a hen who spent its life pecking happily around the barnyard.
No, your dog gets the meat that didn’t make the cut for the human market – 4D meat from livestock that was Diseased,Disabled, Dying, or already Dead when it arrived at the slaughterhouse. It won’t pass USDA inspection, so into the pet food bin it goes….
….along with the growth hormones that were fed to the livestock to make them grow faster…and with the antibiotics fed to the livestock to prevent massive outbreaks of disease in their crowded living conditions. These hormones and antibiotics trickle through to your dog.
THE GREASY FAT
You know that pungent smell that wafts up from a freshly opened bag of kibble? That’s greasy fat sprayed onto the hard little pebbles to tempt your dog to eat it. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be recognizable to him as food. So dogs gobble up their kibble for the same reason kids gobble up french fries. But we don’t let our kids eat only french fries just because they love the smell or taste, do we?
Bags of kibble can sit on a shelf for so long because of the chemical preservatives.
Preservatives make the bags and cans last longer That’s convenient for the dog food company, which can leave it sitting in their warehouse for a long time. Convenient for the retailer who can leave it sitting on his shelf for a long time. Convenient for the owner who can leave it in the pantry for a long time, then pour it into his dog’s bowl and leave it sitting there all day if necessary.
But what is this stuff that keeps ingredients from spoiling?
The most common dog food preservatives are BHA and BHT (both of which are associated with liver and kidney dysfunction, and bladder and stomach cancer) and ethoxyquin, which is manufactured by that giant chemical corporation Monsanto as a rubber preservative. The Department of Agriculture lists it as a pesticide. OSHA lists it as a hazardous chemical. The containers are marked POISON.
All 3 chemicals are banned in Europe, but because their manufacturers have so much legislative clout here in the U.S., they’re still tolerated here. Sad, but true.
"Good news!" you say. "None of those preservatives are in MY dog food brand." Well, not so fast. Even when it’s not listed, it can be in there, anyway. A legal loophole, you see, allows dog food companies to only list what they themselves put into the bag. If they buy some of their ingredients from a supplier who has already added the chemical, the dog food company doesn’t have to disclose that on the bag.
Isn’t that nice?
THE UNRECOGNIZABLE INGREDIENTS
Brewer’s rice? Wheat bran? Beet pulp? Corn gluten? Do you know what any of that stuff is? Can you see yourself picking up a bag of corn gluten or a carton of beet pulp for your dog’s supper?
What about animal digest? This ingredient is officially described as "material which results from chemical and/or enzymatic hydrolysis of clean and undecomposed animal tissue." Doesn’t that sound tasty? It’s actually a boiled concoction from the rendering plant, and the "animal tissue" can include anything from cattle to rats to roadkill to dogs and cats euthanized at the animal shelter. Yes, the FDA has found sodium pentobarbital – the chemical used to euthanize animals – in some brands of dog food.
Australian veterinarian Dr. Ian Billinghurst says:
"If you look at the ingredient list on a can or a bag of pet food – with understanding – you will realise that what is being listed is a heap of rubbish. Definitely not the wholesome nutritious food you would want to feed to a valued member of your family!"
Artificial diets are causing health problems in dogs.
How commercial dog food affects your dog’s health
Every day, unhappy dogs parade through veterinary offices. They suffer from:
- hot spots
- excessive shedding
- loose stools
What are these dogs eating? Virtually every one of them is eating an artificial diet.
"Since I graduated from veterinary school in 1965, I’ve noticed a general deterioration in pet health. We now see very young animals with diseases that we used to see only in older animals. Without the perspective of several decades, vets just coming out of veterinary school think these degenerative conditions in younger animals are "normal." They do not realize what has happened over the passage of time.
I believe, along with poor quality nutrients, the chemical additives in pet food play a major part in that decline. Pet foods contain slaughterhouse wastes, toxic products from spoiled foodstuffs, non-nutritive fillers, heavy-metal contaminants, pesticides, herbicides, drug residues, sugar, and artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives."
Dr. Martin Goldstein D.V.M. sums it up:
"When I tell an owner that a change of diet can affect her pet’s health in a matter of days, the first reaction is usually delight, sometimes even exhilaration."
Dr. Richard Pitcairn D.V.M. Packaged and canned dog food like packaged and jarred baby food and insta-meals or artificial diets for people are not only not better but are generally bad for those who eat them. Insta-meals, commercial baby food and commercial pet food are industries dreamed up for profits by entrepreneurs that only get worse as the companies and their focus on profits gets bigger.
Without a doubt pets who eat real healthy food live longer and healthier lives… and it saves on the vet bills!
And cooking for your pets does not have to be a chore. They can eat many of the same things you eat and there are some great recipes for meats, stews, etc that you can fix for both you and your pet!
h/t to my great friend and vet Dr. Susan for sending this article~
November 14, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal Related Education, Dogs, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, pet products, Pets, responsible pet ownership | commercial dog food, dogs and cats, Dr. Becker, home-cooking, kibble, Pet Food, Pets | 3 Comments
Pets… Animals are family too and they are forever, just like children. Dogs are man’s best friend and they would never abandon you!
If you have the love in your heart and the room in your home… adopt just one more pet, or help someone to keep theirs.
And if you really can’t keep your pet(s) find them a new home… do not abandon them or take them to the shelter
November 2, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal Rescues, Dogs, Dogs, Fostering and Rescue, Help Familie Keep Their Pets, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, NO KILL NATION, Outreach for Pets, Pet Friendship and Love, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Animal Cruelty, Stop Euthenization, Toughen Animal Abuse Laws and Sentences | Betrayal, choices, dogs, dogs and cats, Family, gifts, Love, Pets, Pets Are Family, responsibility | 2 Comments
Tobias the cat was very ill or injured and at a vet clinic for three weeks. Watch as sweet Camila, a yellow lab, welcomes her kitty home.
September 29, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal and Pet Photos, animal behavior, animals, Animals Adopting Animals, Dogs, Dogs, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love | animals adopting animals, best friends, dogs and cats, kittens, Labrador, Love | 2 Comments
- As your pet ages, he can develop canine or feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome, which is a degenerative brain disease similar to Alzheimer’s in humans. Studies show 40 percent of dogs at 15 have at least one symptom, as do 68 percent of geriatric dogs. About half of all cats 15 or older also show signs of cognitive decline.
- Veterinary behaviorists are speaking out about the need for vets to monitor behavior in older pets just as they do other body systems. The earlier a cognitive problem is recognized, the earlier intervention can begin, giving pets more quality time with their families.
- Cognitive dysfunction is not “normal aging.” Diagnosis of the disease is a diagnosis of exclusion, since many health conditions in older pets have symptoms that mimic those of cognitive decline.
- A balanced, species-appropriate diet, exercise, mental stimulation and environmental enrichment are basic tools for pet owners who want to help their dog or cat stay mentally sharp.
- There are also several supplements that can be beneficial for older pets, including SAMe, coconut oil, resveratrol, ginkgo biloba, and phosphatidylserine.
By Dr. Becker
Unfortunately, just like people, dogs and cats also develop degenerative brain diseases known as canine or feline cognitive dysfunction syndrome. But unlike humans, often the signs a pet is in mental decline go unnoticed until the condition is so advanced there’s little that can be done to turn things around or at least slow the progression of the disease.
Often, even an animal’s veterinarian is unaware there’s a problem because he or she doesn’t see the pet that often and always in a clinical setting vs. at home. In addition, according to Dr. Jeff Nichol, a veterinary behavior specialist in Albuquerque, NM, many DVMs aren’t aware of just how common cognitive dysfunction syndrome is. Vets assume pet parents will tell them when an older dog or cat is experiencing behavior changes, while owners assume the changes are just a natural part of aging.
In a large Australian study published in 2011 on canine cognitive dysfunction (CCD),1 scientists at the University of Sydney reported that about 14 percent of dogs develop CCD, but less than 2 percent are diagnosed. In addition, the risk of CCD increases with age — over 40 percent of dogs at 15 will have at least one symptom. Researchers also estimate the prevalence of cognitive dysfunction in geriatric dogs at 68 percent.
In a study also published in 2011 on cognitive decline in cats,2 a researcher at the University of Edinburgh, Hospital for Small Animals estimated that a third of all cats between 11 and 14 years of age have age-related cognitive decline. That number increases to 50 percent for cats 15 years and older.
Are You Discussing Your Pet’s Behavior Changes with Your Vet?
Veterinary behaviorists are beginning to speak out about the need for vets to monitor behavior in older pets just as they do other body systems. According to Dr. Marsha Reich, a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behavior:
“Just because he’s getting old doesn’t mean that we just stand on the sidelines and let him get old. There are things we can do to intervene and improve the dog’s ability to function and improve its quality of life.”
Dr. Gary Landsberg, a veterinary behaviorist in Ontario, Canada, agrees. "This is critical. Early recognition allows for early intervention,” he says.
One of the challenges for vets is that older pets often have multiple health conditions that must be managed, and behavior issues – when addressed at all — often take a back seat. This is especially true for DVMs who expect pet parents to make a separate appointment to discuss behavior changes they’ve noticed in their dog or cat. Typically by the time that happens, if it happens at all, it’s too late.
Animal behavior experts would like to see vet clinic staff give owners a behavioral questionnaire to complete before the dog or cat is taken to the examination room. (Questionnaires could even be emailed to pet owners a day or two before a scheduled appointment.) The vet can then quickly scan the questionnaire to see if there’s a need to discuss changes in an animal’s behavior with the owner.
The questionnaires, if done routinely, also provide a history both the vet and pet owner can refer to as the dog or cat ages.
At my practice, we have clients complete a “Catching Up” form every 6 months at their wellness exam, which covers any new behaviors that may have developed over the past months since their pet’s last exam.
Your Pet’s Mental Decline Has a Physical Cause
Cognitive dysfunction presents as a psychological problem, but the root cause is actually physical and is the result of age-related changes within the brain.
Dogs’ and cats’ brains age in a similar fashion and undergo oxidative damage, neuronal loss, atrophy and the development of beta-amyloid plaques. These ß-amyloid plaques are also seen in human Alzheimer’s sufferers.
According to Dr. Nicholas Dodman, professor and program director of animal behavior at Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, “normal aging” does exist. Some features of cognitive function do decrease with age, but cognitive dysfunction of the type seen in Alzheimer’s disease is not normal.
While canine dementia isn’t exactly the same disease as Alzheimer’s in people, the development of ß-amyloid plaques in pets results in confusion, memory loss, and other symptoms related to mental function. And the condition can come on and progress very rapidly.
Diagnosis of cognitive dysfunction in a pet is a diagnosis of exclusion. There are many conditions older animals acquire that mimic the signs of cognitive decline, so it’s important to rule out all other physical reasons for a change in behavior. For example, a small seizure can cause a pet to stand still and stare. If your pet seems detached, he could be in pain. Inappropriate elimination can be due to kidney disease. These disorders and many others can result in a change in behavior unrelated to cognitive decline. That’s why it’s so important to rule out all possible alternative reasons, especially in aging pets.
It’s also important for your vet to review any medications your dog or cat is taking. Older animals metabolize drugs differently than younger pets, and if a dog or cat has been on a certain medication for years, it’s possible it is having a different effect as he gets older.
And keep in mind your aging kitty may need a more accessible litter box, and an older dog may need more trips outside to relieve herself.
How to Help Your Aging Pet Stay Mentally Sharp
Fortunately, there are many things you can do to help your aging pet maintain good mental function for as long as possible, and delay the onset and progression of cognitive decline.
- The foundation for good health and vitality for pets of any age is a nutritionally balanced, species-appropriate diet. Your pet’s diet should include omega-3 essential fats, such as krill oil, which are critical for cognitive health. Your pet’s body needs an ideal energy source to promote the processes of metabolism, growth and healing. That perfect fuel — especially for aging pets — is a healthy variety of fresh, living food suitable for your carnivorous cat or dog.
- Keep your pet’s body and mind active with regular exercise appropriate for your pet’s age and physical condition, and mental stimulation (puzzles and treat-release toys can be beneficial). Make sure your dog has opportunities to socialize with other pets and people. Think of creative ways to enrich your cat’s indoor environment.
- Provide your pet with a SAMe (S-adenosylmethionine) supplement as a safe and effective way to stall or improve mental decline. Consult your pet’s veterinarian for the right dose size for your dog or cat. There are also commercial cognitive support products available.
- Medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) have been shown to improve brain energy metabolism and decrease the amyloid protein buildup that results in brain lesions in older pets. Coconut oil is a rich source of MCTs. I recommend 1/4 teaspoon for every 10 pounds of body weight twice daily for basic MCT support.
- Other supplements to consider are resveratrol (Japanese knotweed), which protects against free radical damage and beta-amyloid deposits, ginkgo biloba, gotu kola and phosphatidylserine – a nutritional supplement that can inhibit age-related cognitive deficits. Consult a holistic veterinarian for dosing guidance.
- Cats are often nocturnal throughout their lives, but older dogs can develop problems sleeping at night. They tend to sleep all day and stay awake all night, pacing, making noise, and feeling anxious and uncomfortable. Behaviorists recommend melatonin, which is not only a sedative with a calming effect, but also an antioxidant. I also use Rhodiola, chamomile and l-theanine in both cats and dogs with excellent results.
- Keep your pet at a healthy size – overweight dogs and cats are at significant increased risk for disease as they age.
- Maintain your pet’s dental health.
- I recommend twice-yearly vet visits for pets no matter the age, but this becomes even more important for animals getting up in years. Keeping abreast of your dog’s or cat’s physical and mental changes as she ages is the best way to catch any disease process early. Ask your vet to perform a blood test to check your dog’s internal organ health to make sure you are identifying possible issues early on.
When your pet begins to respond to therapy designed to improve cognitive function, in the case of a dog, you can begin re-training him using the same techniques you used when he was a puppy – positive reinforcement behavior training involving lots of treats and praise.
Of course, none of these recommendations will be terribly helpful for a pet in the advanced stages of cognitive decline, which is why it’s so important to diagnose and begin treating the problem as early as possible.
Cognitive dysfunction is a progressive disease that can’t be cured, but early diagnosis and intervention can slow mental decline and offer your aging pet good quality of life.
September 23, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | animal behavior, Animal Related Education, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, responsible pet ownership | aging pets, Alzheimer's in cats, Alzheimer's in dogs, Alzheimer's in pets, chamomile and l-theanine, coconut oil, cognitive dysfunction syndrome, cognitive support products, dogs and cats, geriatric pets, ginkgo biloba, natural remedies for pets, older pets, pets with Alzheimer's, phosphatidylserine, resveratrol, Rhodiola, SAMe, senior pets | 5 Comments
By Donna Spector - HaloPets: Periodontal disease is one of the most common and serious pet health problems, affecting approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by age 3. At-home prevention is as important as regular teeth cleaning by veterinarians. In fact, unless pet owners provide teeth cleaning for dogs and cats at home, periodontal disease will progress regardless of the care provided by veterinarians. Periodontal disease often results in tooth and gum infections, pain, loss of teeth and even organ damage in pets. Studies have shown that dogs with severe periodontal disease have more damage in their kidneys, heart muscle and liver than dogs without periodontal disease. This organ damage occurs when bacteria from the infected tooth roots and gums gain access to the blood stream (a condition called bacteremia). The key to management of gum disease (for humans or pets!) is prevention. As long as the surfaces of the teeth are cleaned frequently, the gums will stay healthy
Some dogs are more susceptible than others to build up of plaque. Factors that affect the risk of a dog getting periodontal disease include
- Breed and genetics
- Dog size
- Flattened face (brachycephalic)
- Frequent mouth breathing
Breed, genetic and tooth alignment can all affect how easily a dog gets plaque.
Small breeds tend to have crowded teeth and are at a higher risk of building up plaque and having dental problems.
Dogs with flattened faces having compressed upper jaws (such as pugs, boxers, etc.) also tend to have crowded teeth.
Older dogs are more likely to have dental problems.
When a dog breathes frequently through its mouth the drying of the teeth tends to harden plaque.
*Example: Chihuahuas are very lucky in that the fact that this breed has few health problems overall… but teeth issues is periodontal disease is one! There is an old joke…”What do you call a room full of Chihuahuas?”… “One full set of teeth.”
Brushing your pets’ teeth at home
The gold standard for keeping gums healthy and plaque controlled in pets is twice daily tooth brushing. Each pet should have their own toothbrush and proper pet toothbrushes should have bristles to reach under the gum line. There are numerous cat and dog toothbrush sizes available to best fit your pets’ mouth. Human toothpaste contains detergents and should not be used in pets as they will swallow the paste. There are many cat and dog toothpaste flavors available and most pets seem to prefer the poultry-flavored types.
Proper brushing technique involves placing the toothbrush bristles at a 45 degree angle where the gum and teeth meet. Using a gentle oval pattern and covering three to four teeth at a time, the bristles should be moved around the teeth. Ten short oval motions should be completed before moving the toothbrush to a new location in the mouth. The outside upper teeth do the most chewing and should get more attention.
For best results, tooth-brushing should start when pets are young and will easily adjust to teeth cleaning at home. As pets age and develop tooth and gum disease, there may be pain associated with brushing and pets may be less willing to allow brushing. If your pet is completely unwilling to allow brushing, there are dental wipes that can help control plaque when rubbed twice daily against the teeth and gums.
Veterinary teeth cleaning
In addition to daily tooth brushing, pets will intermittently require dental cleanings by their veterinarian to prevent periodontal disease from occurring. Veterinarians often perform fluoride treatments or apply plaque prevention gels that have a long-lasting plaque-fighting advantage. The frequency of these cleanings will depend on the success of the at-home dental care. They may be as frequent as every four to six months in a pet with severe periodontal disease or only every two to three years if a pet owner has been dedicated to maintaining their pets’ dental health at home.
Frequently asked questions:
Is anesthesia always required for teeth cleaning?
Yes, anesthesia is required for a thorough teeth cleaning that will help prevent periodontal disease. As pet owners are often reluctant about procedures requiring anesthesia for their pet, some groomers and veterinarians are offering "anesthesia-free" dental cleanings. Anesthesia-free cleanings are not recommended by the American Veterinary Dental College, as these procedures always result in suboptimal examination and cleaning and also increase the risk of injury to the pet’s mouth.
Is dry food better for pets’ teeth?
No. It is a myth that dry kibble helps remove plaque and that canned foods cause more plaque. Most dry food crumbles without much resistance, offering little to no abrasive action from chewing. Pets eating dry foods can (and do) develop heavy plaque buildup.
Does my pet need a special dental diet?
Probably not. If your pet has particularly bad plaque problems, despite proper at-home teeth brushing and veterinary dental care, you should talk to your veterinarian about an appropriate dental diet. Approved dental diets contain chemicals that bind and facilitate breakdown of plaque. There is a list of approved foods and dental treats published by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
Digestive problems can also contribute to bad breath in dogs and cats. If you haven’t already, consider switching to a natural pet food which promotes excellent gastrointestinal health.
Are there treats that can help reduce plaque buildup?
Yes. There are many treat products on the market that claim efficacy against plaque and tartar. The VOHC Seal of Acceptance can help pet owners distinguish which products are actually scientifically proven to reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
Bad breath is just a minor symptom of the more severe periodontal disease occurring in your pet’s mouth. Work with your veterinarian to create a cat or dog dental care plan that will keep the bad breath away and maintain your pets’ health for years to come.
Donna Spector, DVM, DACVIM ,is a renowned, board-certified Veterinary Internal Medicine Specialist who has practiced at the Animal Medical Center in New York City and other leading institutions. She is an active member of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. Dr. Donna has written and lectured extensively on topics including nutrition, diabetes, gastrointestinal disorders, kidney failure and respiratory disease. She is widely recognized for her role as consulting veterinarian to HALO, Purely for Pets, her TV appearances with Ellen DeGeneres and her widely-quoted pet health advice in print and on radio. Dr. Donna performs medical, nutrition and weight loss consultations for dogs and cats through her web-based veterinary consulting service, www.SpectorDVM.com.
Here we have two laughing Chiweenie Sisters, Angelina and Princess, laughing as they wait for their Halloween Photos (2008)
September 19, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal Related Education, Chihuahua, Chiweenie, Dogs, Dogs, Holistic Pet Health, Just One More Pet, Pets, responsible pet ownership | bad breath in cats, bad breath in dogs, Bad Breath in Pets, brachycephalic, Brushing Pet's Teeth, cats and dogs, Chihuahuas, Chiweenies, Dog Dental Disease, Dog Smiles, dogs and cats, Dr. Spector, holistic veterinarians, Pet Periodontal Disease, Veterinary teeth cleaning | 2 Comments
- Dr. Becker interviews Dr. Alice Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist and leader in the field of end-of-life care and pawspice (pet hospice).
- Dr. Alice, as she is known, realized as a vet student that veterinary oncology was the field she wanted to practice in. She also saw a tremendous need for end-of-life care services for companion animals. When she went into private practice, Dr. Villalobos made the decision to care for each of her patients all the way through their illness to the end of their lives.
- Dr. Alice created the term “pawspice” to distinguish the goals of hospice care for pets from what happens in human hospice. She also developed the HHHHHMM quality of life scale for pets with cancer that has gone viral.
- Since the publishing of Dr. Villalobos’s textbook in 2007, the subject of pet hospice and end-of-life care is being covered in an increasing number of veterinary schools. In fact, it is currently the fastest-growing specialty service in veterinary medicine.
- One of the ways pawspice differs from hospice is the incorporation of palliative medicine, which is geared toward alleviating symptoms that cause anxiety, distress and pain. It involves using standard medicines in different ways to help trigger temporary remission without adverse events in the patient, thereby improving quality of life and happiness for pets at the end of their lives.
Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, interviews Dr. Alice Villalobos regarding veterinary hospice.
By Dr. Becker
Today I have a very special guest chatting with me via Skype — Dr. Alice Villalobos. “Dr. Alice,” as she is known, is a University of California-Davis graduate, the director of Pawspice in Hermosa Beach, and she also runs the Animal Oncology Consultation Service in Woodland Hills.
Dr. Villalobos is a founding member of the Veterinary Cancer Society, the Association for Veterinary Family Practice, and the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care. She’s also the past president of the Society for Veterinary Medical Ethics and founder of the Peter Zippi Memorial Fund for Animals, which has found homes for 14,000 pets since 1977, primarily cats.
Dr. Villalobos is editor-in-chief for several veterinary-related journals, and she has authored textbooks including Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond (Kindle). She also writes a column titled The Bond and Beyond for Veterinary Practice News.
Dr. Villalobos has received the Leo Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year award, the UC Davis Alumni Achievement award for her pioneering role in bringing oncology services to companion animals, and a Distinguished Practitioner of the National Academies of Practice award. She lectures worldwide on veterinary oncology, companion animal quality of life issues, and “pawspice,” or veterinary hospice, which is the topic of our discussion today.
Dr. Villalobos made the decision when she entered private practice to see her cancer patients through to the end of their lives.
I asked Dr. Alice, since she has been a veterinarian for many years, how soon into her career she realized there was a huge gap in end-of-life care services for pets.
She explained that she was still in veterinary school when she decided to practice oncology, and her animal patients had their end-of-life experiences right there at UC Davis. So Dr. Villalobos was able to see the gap in services first-hand while still a vet student.
When she went into private practice, she made the decision to see her patients all the way through to the end of their lives, unlike what happened back in those days (1970s) in human medicine, when no one wanted to discuss death. This predated the human hospice movement and the concept of helping people die peacefully, without pain.
Dr. Alice decided to work with her animal patients and their families right through to the very end of the journey. Fortunately, we are able to help pets have a very peaceful passing because society condones euthanasia for animals. Dr. Villalobos made it a point to talk about the subject with each family from the first day she felt euthanasia was inevitable for their pet.
Next I asked Dr. Villalobos who she sought counsel from originally, since back in the 1970s there weren’t any mentors or role models for treating pets at the end of life. She answered that in the late 1960s and early 1970s at UC Davis, there was a very special pioneer in the field of animal oncology, Dr. Gordon Theilen.
Dr. Theilen wrote the first two textbooks on veterinary cancer medicine. Dr. Alice considers him a great role model who is filled with compassion. She mentions Leo Bustad as a role model as well. He was also a part of the UC Davis team and was responsible for the term “human-animal bond.”
Dr. Villalobos noticed that pet owners would come into her practice wanting to keep their dog or cat with them for as long as possible. They didn’t want a replacement. They wanted to get treatments for their pets and when the time came, they wanted to insure their animals were able to pass on in the right way – at home, with the best of care, surrounded by their human family.
Dr. Alice looked into what was being done with pediatric oncology. She interviewed human patients and asked questions like, “You have this cancer. How does it feel?” Part of the reason for her research was because at vet school, she was taught animals don’t experience pain on the level they actually, in fact, do. Back in those days, rather than being given pain medications, animals were restrained for procedures and prevented from moving after surgery. Fortunately, all that has changed.
As a member of the International Veterinary Association of Pain Management, Dr. Alice knows that veterinary hospice practitioners must have extensive knowledge and expertise in pain management, because it is one of the biggest problems for cancer patients (both human and animal) at the end of their lives.
Taking treatment of terminally ill pets and end-of-life care to the next level.
I asked Dr. Villalobos if, when she first got started, she was met with conflict. Were her colleagues confused? Did they question her? She replied, “Dr. Becker, I’m still pulling the arrows out of my back.” I asked her to expand on the conflicts and confrontations she has encountered.
Dr. Alice explained that back in the early 1970s, treating a cat with both leukemia and FIP was “almost blasphemy.” People thought, “What is she doing?” But at UC Davis, they treated cats with lymphoma, and the most likely cat to have lymphoma was also positive for the leukemia virus.
Dr. Theilen was the doctor who isolated the three subtypes of the leukemia virus that ultimately resulted in a vaccine. UC Davis was working extensively with leukemias and lymphomas in felines. In fact, Dr. Niels Pedersen of UC Davis is the person who characterized the FIP virus and discovered the feline immunodeficiency virus.
Dr. Alice explains she was surrounded by fantastic researchers and a wonderful atmosphere. When she finished vet school, she was actually in the midst of a “mock” residency with Dr. Theilen who wanted to put a veterinary student through a clinical oncology program. So Dr. Villalobos actually began her residency while still a sophomore in vet school, and she continued that work for Dr. Theilen through her next three years of school.
So in addition to the stigma attached to treating viropositive animals, Dr. Villalobos also had a passion for helping them die well. I asked her what kind of response she received. She answered that most of her colleagues felt they were already doing that – providing animals with a good end of life experience. But as she further explains, it requires a certain expertise. Palliative medicine is a specialty. She expects at some point it will become a specialty in veterinary medicine just as it is in human medicine.
Dr. Alice goes on to explain that hospice is another area of expertise. She views it as, “The types of psychology that we need to know to help comfort the bewildered, bereft, grieving, and the anticipatory grief that comes through, even suicide. People feel that they can’t go on another day.”
When a pet dies, veterinary professionals need to be well versed in all these forms of psychotherapy, comfort care and grief counseling. It’s a necessary service, but in a busy practice, when a DVM isn’t accustomed to working with end-of-life care patients and clients, it just doesn’t happen.
Dr. Alice’s “pawspice” concept and the HHHHHMM quality of life scale.
End-of-life care hasn’t been taught in vet schools. Students are taught how to euthanize animals, but that’s about it. I do think palliative medicine is coming, though, and certainly pain management is even farther along, thankfully. But putting all those pieces together to offer truly thoughtful, heartfelt support isn’t there yet.
I asked Dr. Villalobos if she thinks vet school courses are addressing some of these skills today. She replied she believes they are coming along. She says that after her textbook arrived in 2007, vet schools quickly took the book into their libraries, and some of the programs that were developed even taught pawspice.
Dr. Alice explains she wanted to call pet hospice “pawspice” because the word hospice is actually very confusing for those who want to adapt the concept for veterinary medicine. She says that in human hospice, the arrival of death isn’t slowed down. Patients receive pain management, but what everyone is doing is simply waiting for the patient to die.
In veterinary medicine, we can apply a quality of life scale to each patient. In fact, a scale that Dr. Villalobos proposed in 2004 went viral. It went everywhere. It’s the HHHHHMM scale. It’s designed to be easy to remember. The five H’s are for:
… no Hurt
… good Hydration
… no Hunger
… good Hygiene
Hurt, Hydration, Hunger, Hygiene, and Happiness. These are the five basic areas that pawspice professionals must be able to talk to their clients about.
The first M is for Mobility. This is extremely important for large pets, for example, Great Danes. If a Great Dane can’t move around on his own, it’s over unless there are some very strong family members who can physically move the dog as often as necessary. In smaller animals, mobility isn’t such a huge factor. On the quality of life scale, they can have a score of 0 all the way up to 10 and still be okay. It’s similar to people in wheelchairs – they can have great quality of life even though they don’t have full mobility.
The second M is for More good days than bad days. This is something the pet’s family has to focus on. Is this a good day for Buddy? Or is this a bad day? If there are more bad days, say two or three or four in a row and no really good days, it’s time for the family to consider the gift of euthanasia.
Our pets only think in present time. They exist in the now. Even if you’re five hours late coming home, they are still full of joy and not mad at you. They’re just happy to see you now, because they exist in the now. If they’re suffering now, that’s all they know, and if there are too many times of suffering, frustration builds up.
Sometimes people don’t understand this. It can be difficult to understand things from a pet’s viewpoint. When there are more bad days than good days, our pets welcome the gift of euthanasia. They don’t need to live for the graduation of a niece or nephew. They’re not looking back with regret and hoping to reconcile with someone before they die. The human hospice philosophy simply doesn’t apply at the end of an animal’s life. They’re here to enjoy the moment. It their quality of life is poor, it’s up to us as their protectors not to make them endure further suffering.
This is the way Dr. Alice talks to her clients, “You are his protector. Buddy needs you to make the decision to help him, you know, change worlds.” She says Barbara Myers, a pet loss consultant, uses that beautiful phrase, “Let’s help them change worlds.” It’s often comforting to families to use euphemisms like “transitioning,” or “crossing the Rainbow Bridge.” It’s not necessary to use tough words when talking about the death of a beloved companion animal. Families, and especially children, welcome thoughtful, loving words to describe what will be happening to their pet.
End-of-life care/pet hospice is the fastest-growing specialty in veterinary medicine today.
Next I asked Dr. Alice about her passion for teaching and consulting other professionals and vet schools about end-of-life care for pets. She explained that she has taught all over the world, and her textbook is translated into Spanish and Portuguese. When she goes to Portugal, Spain, or South America, she’s treated like a celebrity!
Dr. Villalobos is also well known in the U.S. for being one of the leaders of the pet hospice movement. She says her decision to treat pets with cancer in vet school was pivotal in creating a specialty service for animals in the final stages of life. She says it’s the fastest-growing specialty service in all of veterinary medicine. New veterinarians in particular are really embracing pet hospice.
Dr. Villalobos says one of the reasons for its popularity is that DVMs can set up an independent practice. They can do house calls. This is especially attractive to young DVMs who may not be able to find a practice they really like, or who work at a practice in which the owners want them to work more hours than they can handle while raising a family. Going the house call route has worked out very nicely for many of these young vets.
Dr. Stephen Withrow of Colorado State University’s Flint Animal Cancer Center has incorporated hospice and end-of-life care chapters written by Dr. Villalobos in his textbook, and she says his students call her all the time for help. She says CSU has set up a wonderful hospice service, as have a number of other veterinary colleges in the U.S. It’s also a growing movement in Canada, South America and France.
Helping pet owners give their animals a good quality death.
Dr. Villalobos is also passionate about using the term “pawspice” for pets to alleviate the confusion and negative impression many people have of hospice services for humans.
As she explains it, when a pet owner has arrived at those final moments, she or he is often paralyzed with doubt or fear about causing the pet’s passing by making that final decision to euthanize. Dr. Alice sees her job, and the job of all professionals in the specialty, to help comfort those pet owners by letting them know it’s actually a vet’s duty by the oath he or she takes to prevent suffering.
In my practice, I tell clients that the decision to help their pet transition is, of course, the most difficult decision they may ever make. But I also explain that as their veterinarian, the most important thing I can do is to help their pet die well rather than poorly. I ask them, “Do you want to rip the Band-Aid off really fast, or really slow?” I explain that they will be heartbroken either way, but for their pet’s sake, we can help by offering a good and peaceful transition. A good quality of death.
Dr. Villalobos believes quality of life/quality of death questions should also apply to humans. She says that if any of you listening or reading here today have a family member or a child with a terminal disease, you should advocate for a quality passing for that person.
In human medicine, it’s all about what can be done – we can do this, and we can do that, and we can do something else. Even at the end of the road with, say, a cancer that has been resistant to all forms of treatment, someone will come up with yet another treatment that is usually more risky. The patient has an adverse reaction, winds up in the ICU, and has a bad death.
One of the things I’m so grateful to Dr. Alice for is helping veterinarians understand it’s okay to tell a pet owner, “We’ve pushed this animal far enough.” It’s human nature, especially for optimists like me, to say, “We can try this and this and this” when our patients no longer want to keep going and their bodies are tired. I tell my clients that sometimes the body becomes a cage for the soul, and the body doesn’t work, so they need to think seriously about setting the soul free. Animals can become frustrated or depressed, and there comes a point where we should stop pushing, which actually takes all the pressure off the pet.
Sometimes we need to give clients permission to say, “You know what? We’re going to stop and we’re going to voluntarily withdraw all treatment.” Instead of trying to cure or change the disease situation, we’re going to switch our focus to helping the animal have a peaceful, good quality death.
The role of palliative medicine in end-of-life care.
Dr. Alice has really helped veterinarians understand and be able to talk about dying well versus just euthanasia. There’s a gap between the two. When we have a terminal patient and we know euthanasia is coming, there are things we can do to prepare the family, the pet, and our hearts. Dr. Villalobos has paved the way for veterinarians in this regard and I’m really thankful to her for that.
She explains that one of the reasons pawspice is different from hospice is that it incorporates palliative medicine, which is a very misunderstood area in human medicine, especially in the U.S. There’s this idea that palliative medicine is “giving up,” but it is not. It is simply taking care of symptoms that cause anxiety, distress and pain. Dr. Villalobos stresses that we use standard medicine inside palliative medicine.
She says that when a pet patient is diagnosed with a life-limiting cancer, with pawspice what she does is select standard therapy for that patient that will hopefully bring a period of welcome remission. But the therapy isn’t one that will be hard on the animal. It will be something that brings only good days – and few if any bad days. Dr. Alice avoids medications, therapies, treatments and regimens that will result in adverse events for the patient.
For example, she may use a strong drug, but split it to give in two doses instead of one. The techniques she uses are in her textbook, and many DVMs are adopting them. Dr. Villalobos says it has evolved into something called metronomic therapy, which is a continuous low-dose treatment that reduces the formation of new blood vessels, which all tumors need in order to grow. Sometimes she just tries to control the tumor, maybe slow down the growth a little, while preserving the patient’s level of happiness and quality of life.
Thank you, Dr. Alice!
Since not all veterinarians are providing hospice care, I asked Dr. Alice where my Healthy Pets listeners and readers can go to learn more about end-of-life care. She invites everyone to visit her Pawspice website, where you can find lots of information and links to other resources.
I so appreciate Dr. Villalobos taking the time to speak with me today. I’m grateful for all the work she has done and continues to do for sick and terminally ill animals.
August 30, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal Related Education, Holistic Pet Health, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pets, responsible pet ownership, Stop Euthenization | cats and dogs, companion animals, dog health, dogs and cats, Dr. Alice Villalobos, Dr. Becker, dying pets, end of life pet care, for the love of a pet, Love, pawspice, pet hospice, Pet Wills, Pets | 6 Comments
Family and friends of G.R. Gordon-Ross watch his private fireworks show at the Youth Sports Complex in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, June 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
Mercury News: The Fourth of July is one of my favorite holidays. Hot dogs, potato salad and, of course, fireworks.
But Independence Day is not such a joyful time for our animal friends. The noises and flashes of light are anything but enjoyable for them. Some become emotionally traumatized, cowering in corners, while others may bolt out of fear. Even pets that normally aren’t phased can have bad reactions to all of the bangs and pops.
The East Bay Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has kindly provided tips to help keep our animals calm and safe during the next few days:
– Keeping your dogs and cats indoors is one of the simplest things you can do to keep them safe. Even if your pet usually does well outdoors, both cats and dogs might run in a panic from fireworks or people. More pets go missing during the July Fourth holiday than at any other time of the year.
– If possible, stay at home with your pet. That way, you will be able to make adjustments to routines and comfort a distraught animal. If your dog appears fearful, allow him to go into his kennel or somewhere he feels safe. If your cat is skittish, place her in a darkened, cozy room with some of her favorite things. Most important, comfort them and reassure them that all is OK.
– Make sure your pets are wearing identification. One in three pets will go missing in their lifetime. If they don’t have identification, 90 percent don’t return home.
In addition to a collar with tags, consider microchipping your pet. Many frightened pets can slip their collars, leaving them with no path home. Contact the SPCA or other animal groups to see if they offer the service. Also make sure that contact information with the chipping company and on collar tags is up-to-date.
– Keep an emergency file. If your pet does go missing, it is a good idea to have a folder with a list of local shelters, as well as a current photo of your pet showing any unique markings for identification. Make sure the entire family knows where this folder is kept and that it is easily accessible.
– If your pet has a history of problems, talk to your veterinarian about medications. East Bay SPCA Chief Veterinarian Michael Sozanski says pets often find the loud, unpredictable noise and bright light displays frightening and should not be subjected to fireworks shows. "In case of severe phobia," Sozanski says, "nothing may work to ease your pet’s fear. If there is a chance your pet may exhibit this level of fear, speak to your veterinarian about possible medications." Medications can include anti-anxiety drugs or sedatives.
– Consider your pet when party planning. If you have friends over to celebrate, be especially mindful of doors and windows. Guests may be unaware that your dog or cat might escape even if a door is left open for a short amount of time. Try securing your cat in a quiet room or keeping your dog in the kennel or with you on a leash as guests are coming and going.
– If you are going to an outdoor event and bringing your pet, make sure there is plenty or water and shade.
Things to watch
–In dogs, warning signs of anxiety can be excessive panting, drooling, trembling and shaking, pacing, aggression, panicking and escape behavior. Watch for inappropriate body movements, such as jumping erratically over or on furniture, that could lead to injuries.
–Symptoms in cats may include panting, drooling, trembling, hiding, freezing, aggression, panicking and escape behavior. They also may behave erratically, jumping and climbing. They may hurt themselves or others.
Joan Morris’ column runs five days a week in print and online. Contact her at email@example.com.
July 3, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal Related Education, animals, Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, Pet Friendship and Love, Pet Health, Pet Nutrition, Pets, responsible pet ownership | 4th of July, 4th of July and pets, Cats, dogs, dogs and cats, holidays with pets, JOMP, pet safety, Pets | 2 Comments
UCLA Shutterbug – Wyoming Outing
Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for Tribeca Film Festival
UCLA Schutterbug - Kisses for Schatze
Reddit/orangefever - Just Wrestling
UCLA Shutterbug - Having a PowWow
UCLA Shutterbug - Whole Family is Asleep… Pups 7-Weeks Old
June 17, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Adopt Just One More Pet, Animal and Pet Photos, animals, Chihuahua, Chiweenie, Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, Just One More Pet, Man's Best Friend, Pet Friendship and Love, pet fun, Pets, responsible pet ownership | Angel, Angelina, Apachi, doggie families, dogs and cats, Father's Day, Goji, Magnum, Pet Parents, Pets, pets and holidays, Princess | 3 Comments
June 15, 2013 Posted by justonemorepet | Animal and Pet Photos, Dogs, Dogs, Holidays With Pets, If Animlas Could Talk..., Just One More Pet, pet fun, Pets | Cats, dogs and cats, Flag Day, JOMP, Just One More Pet, patriotic pet events, patriotic pet photos, patriotic pup costumes | 2 Comments
Save a Life…Adopt Just One More…Pet!
Everyday we read or hear another story about pets and other animals being abandoned in record numbers while at the same time we regularly hear about crazy new rules and laws being passed limiting the amount of pets that people may have, even down to one or two… or worse yet, none.
Nobody is promoting hoarding pets or animals, but at a time when there are more pets and animals of all types being abandoned or being taken to shelters already bursting at the seams, there is nothing crazier than legislating away the ability of willing adoptive families to take in just one more pet!!
Our goal is to raise awareness and help find homes for all pets and animals that need one by helping to match them with loving families and positive situations. Our goal is also to help fight the trend of unfavorable legislation and rules in an attempt to stop unnecessary Euthenization!!
“All over the world, major universities are researching the therapeutic value of pets in our society and the number of hospitals, nursing homes, prisons and mental institutions which are employing full-time pet therapists and animals is increasing daily.” ~ Betty White, American Actress, Animal Activist, and Author of Pet Love
So if you have the room in your home and the love in your heart… Adopt Just One More Pet or consider becoming a Foster parent for pets… Also check out: Little Critter: Just One More Pet
Photos By: Marion Algier – The UCLA Shutterbug
There is always room for Just One More Pet. So if you have room in your home and room in your heart… Adopt Just One More! If you live in an area that promotes unreasonable limitations on pets… fight the good fight and help change the rules and legislation…
Save the Life of Just One More…Animal!
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Photos by the UCLA Shutterbug are protected by copyright, Please email at JustOneMorePet@gmail.com or find us on twitter @JustOneMorePet for permission to duplicate for commerical purposes or to purchase photos.
If you can adopt or foster just one more pet, you could be saving a life, while adding joy to your own! Our shelters are over-flowing… Please join the fight to make them all ‘NO-Kill’ facilities.
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If You Were Stranded On An Island…A recent national survey revealed just how much Americans love their companion animals. When respondents were asked whether they’d like to spend life stranded on a deserted island with either their spouse or their pet, over 60% said they would prefer their dog or cat for companionship!