It’s no secret to my close friends and family how much I like food. I think cheese, paired with crusty bread and a nice red wine, is close to heaven! I’m sure many of you feel the same way. Have you spent much time thinking about food from the standpoint of your dog or cat? [Read more…]
Archives for April 2014
I’m so excited to unveil my website’s new design to all of you! When I started my blog at the beginning of 2014, I knew how I wanted it to look, but my limited web design capabilities held me back from “making it so” from the start. I’ve been working with a great local web designer, and we’ve come up with a redesign that I really love! [Read more…]
If you’ve ever lived with a senior pet, you know the questioning and worries that go along with assessing your furry friend’s health and well-being. This is the number one thing I help pet owners with every day. At Peaceful Pet Passage, we spend a lot of time talking with our clients about Quality of Life, which is a broad concept of well-being that has subjective and objective components. I’d like to share with you a Quality of Life scale that I’ve found useful. Dr. Alice Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist, developed this scale, also known as the HHHHHMM scale. She is well-known for coining the term “pawspice” and developing a comprehensive hospice program for pets. Patients are scored in each category from 0-10 (with 10 being ideal).
Is your pet panting heavily in the absence of high temperatures and exercise? Is his breathing irregular or with a lot of abdominal effort? When you flip up his lip, do his gums appear pink or pale or even white? Is he restless and having trouble sleeping soundly? Are you currently giving pain medication, and if so, does it still seem to be helping?
Is your pet willing to eat? Does he eat his regular pet food, or do you give him “people” food or special treats? Will your pet eat out of his bowl or only if you offer food by hand? Do you notice he has lost weight?
Is your pet drinking enough water (rule of thumb is 1 cup per 10 lb body weight per day)? Do his gums feel tacky? When you pinch the skin in the scruff of the neck, does it “hang” there or fall right back down?
Are you able to keep your pet clean and brushed, especially after elimination? If your pet is spending a lot of time lying in one place, does he have cushioning to prevent pressure sores from forming? Are there open wounds in the skin that require cleaning?
Does your pet seem happy to see you and spend time with you and your family? Does he play with his toys? Is he depressed, anxious, bored, lonely, or fearful?
Can your pet get up without help? Can he walk without help? Does your pet show interest in going for a walk? Is he limping, stumbling, or having seizures?
more good days than bad
When bad days outnumber good days, quality of life may be too compromised for your friend. Keep a daily journal for your pet so you can objectively assess trends. If your pet is suffering, making a decision for euthanasia is the right thing to do.
Scoring and Acting on the Score
Add up your numbers from each category above. If your total is more than 35 points, quality of life is acceptable, with the caveat that your pet may need supportive care such as pain medication, mobility aids, a change in diet, etc. If the score is less than 35 points, I encourage you to reach out to your veterinary team, who can assess your pet’s condition and make recommendations for supportive care, or in some cases, for euthanasia. As Dr. Villalobos points out on her website, our companion animals are fortunate: society protects them from suffering and grants them a peaceful and painless death.
I hope this Quality of Life scale will help guide you. If you have questions about using it, please reach out in the comments or send me a message.
Today I spoke on the phone with Dr. Glenn Buckley, who is the CEO and owner of PetRescueRx.com. This is an on-line pet pharmacy and supply store, with a twist. This business donates all net profit (after paying bills, employees, and overhead costs) to animal rescues and shelters across the country. When you make a purchase, you designate to whom the profit will be paid. Rescue groups and shelters are encouraged to visit the website and register their organization so shoppers can find them at checkout. [Read more…]
This weekend we held our second estate planning seminar, with a focus on including pets in your arrangements. We’ve been blessed to work with local Attorney Rachel Thiessen, who specializes in estate planning and adoption. Attorney Thiessen takes a refreshing approach to working with clients. Her goal is to get to know you, so your estate plan truly reflects what you need. She works under a fixed fee schedule, so there are no surprises about money. She is very knowledgeable about the legal tactics to protect not only your assets, but also the intangible, irreplaceable aspects of your legacy. [Read more…]
Here in south-central Pennsylvania, dog wardens have been going house-to-house recently, asking to see proof of rabies vaccination and licensing for all dogs in the household. Licensing of dogs over 3 months of age is a state law in Pennsylvania, as it is in many other states. Not having up-to-date rabies vaccination and licensing through your county can result in fines of up to $300. [Read more…]
A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about ProHeart 6, which is an every-6-month injection to prevent heartworm. A reader commented on this post, sharing his story about ProHeart 6 and his dog, a 2 year old female Lab. She received ProHeart 6 injection in early March, and she vomited 30 minutes after the injection. Four days later, she had a seizure. Bloodwork completed after the seizure was normal, and she was also evaluated by a veterinary neurologist. Her diagnosis at this time is epilepsy. [Read more…]
In the past couple of days, the Tampa and Orlando papers have reported on a spike in cases of a bacterial infection in dogs in Florida. This bacteria is Leptospira interrogans, causing the disease we call Leptospirosis. I wrote about Leptospirosis in my vaccine series. If you recall, this bacteria is present in the environment and is carried by animals including wildlife and domestic animals, which excrete the bacteria in their urine. People can also become infected, via abrasions in the skin or ingestion. Symptoms in mammals include fever, painful joints, and lethargy. The infection can be treated with common antibiotics, but if not treated, it can lead to kidney and liver failure and meningitis. Over 200 types (or serovars) of Leptospira have been identified; the current vaccine for dogs covers 4 serovars. [Read more…]