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256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409

Ashbridges Bay Animal Hospital

Pets That Make Seniors Lives Better

Sometimes older people feel their lives become monotonous.  They may get lonely, run down, and stuck in a rut. Fortunately, there’s is a simple solution to bring a new light to the life of a senior and that’s owning a pet. Animal companions can erase feelings of loneliness and give variety and emotional depth to one’s day. Studies show that pets reduce stress and are beneficial as one gets older, but what makes a good pet for an older person?

 

Dogs

There’s a reason dogs are called “man’s best friend.” However, dogs require more care than other pets. As long as one is willing and able to take their dog for regular walks, they make an excellent choice. Dogs require more space than most other animals, but they are the perfect all-around companion to reduce loneliness and to liven up someone’s life.

Older people tend to do better with smaller dogs because they require less responsibility. A cute no-shedding miniature poodle makes a great choice, as they are a lot of laughs and are great with kids. A playful terrier is also an excellent choice. Every day with these pups brings exercise and entertainment, not to mention an amazing friend.

 

Cats

Cats are known to reduce stress and anxiety, and they make a fantastic low-maintenance pet to keep people company throughout the day. They thrive in almost any environment be it rural or urban, and easily conform to the space provided. Most cats can live exclusively indoors if their human companions have difficulty going outside when the weather gets cold or rainy.

It’s crucial that anyone who wants a cat also have a plan to keep the litter box refreshed regularly. It’s certainly an unpleasant chore, but cleaning a litter box does provide some physical activity for the pet owner.

Cats are notoriously playful creatures and this provides senior pet owners with regular activity, as well as relaxation and enjoyment. Studies indicate that seniors who have the company of an adult cat have a one-third lower risk of a heart attack.

 

Birds

Want a pet to talk to that will talk back? That can be arranged.

 

Teaching a bird tricks and training them to talk is a rewarding way to occupy a few hours each day. Birds will make one’s home seem much more full and alive with their odd calls and playful antics. Birds can become very talkative and interactive, but only take up a small amount of space as they live inside a cage.
Birds require very little care but add a splash of color and fun to a living space. They also need a home where the inside temperature is kept fairly warm at all times, so careful consideration is needed to decide if a home should be a bird habitat.

 

Fish

Fish are some of the best stress relievers that there are, especially when one considers how little work it takes to care for them. Having an aquarium of colorful fish in the living space can be unbelievably calming and provide entertainment. They are the perfect pet for owners who don’t go outside periodically or are unable to move around a lot.

Fish require little space energy but they add extra color and liveliness to a home. They do require a fair amount of research, including balancing the species inside a fish tank as well as maintaining the water chemistry. Professionals at a pet store can give great advice here.

 

Making Life Easier For Older Pets

People aren’t the only ones who start to get a little run down as they age. Our pets face the difficulties of aging as well. Just as one would care for the extra needs of an elderly family member, it is the responsibility of the pet’s family to make life easier for older pets.

 

Give Them a Boost

Many older pets face arthritis in their joints. They are not as agile as they were when they were younger and it’s much more difficult for them to access those high-up comfy spots where they love to curl up. Give them some help by gently  lifting them up placing a box or steps to give easier access.

 

Make Them Comfortable

As animals get older, they become much more sensitive to changing temperatures. Their joints and muscles start to get stiff, making it uncomfortable for them to use some beds. Older pets will enjoy a lofted and heated bed, or even add a blanket to make them more comfortable. The heat will soothe their joints and keeping them off the cold, hard floor will be better on their bodies.

 

Keep Their Food and Water Fresh

Some older pets don’t drink as much water as they should. A pet water fountain is one simple solution, as it will refill automatically and doesn’t need as much maintenance. Fountains also filter the water, providing a better taste that increases the odds older pets will drink from it.

Older dogs sometimes show changes in appetite, so consider adjusting their meals. This could mean using a food made for older pets, or providing smaller, more frequent meals. For pets that have discomfort when moving, consider elevating their food and water bowls so that they don’t have to bend down as much.

 

Keep Them Active

It is important to keep all pet active, including pets, but their body can only take so much at once. When a pet’s health starts to wane, continue to take them on walks or play with them during the day, but shorten the duration. Space out the activities more to get them time to recover, and make sure they aren’t getting too tired.

 

Make Sure They’re Healthy

Regular checkups are still important, and if you haven’t started paying attention to their dental health, now is a crucial time to focus on it. Unhealthy teeth and gums can lead to gum disease and toothache, which is uncomfortable for aging pets. Try brushing them a couple times a week or get them a teeth-cleaning toy. Preventing health problems before they become big issues is your best strategy.

 

Keep Them Feeling Secure

Older dogs get frightened much more easily as they age. They may be more sensitive to loud noises or become afraid of thunderstorms. Try getting them a weighted vest, like a Thundershirt. It is snug to their body and makes them feel more secure and protected.

 

Don’t let your dog’s winter exercise routine get stale

Dogs were not meant to live out lives of lazy indoor naps and food that comes to them.  They are descended from wolves and need to keep their blood pumping every day to stay healthy and fit. The winter snows can limit what activities are available to your pup, but don’t miss some great opportunities for outdoor winter exercise before the spring comes.

 

Walking

This is the most obvious one. You’re probably already doing this twice a day and it may be a bit stale. What’s good about walking is it requires almost no forethought, special equipment (besides a leash) or budget. Make sure your dog has a coat and boots if nature didn’t provide it with the features needed for a Toronto winter. Plan to include plenty of walking each winter, but don’t let it be your dog’s only form of exercise.

 

Swim

We’re not looking to endorse any particular indoor dog swimming business, but a quick Google search will show several year-round places in the Toronto area. Swimming is a great full-body exercise with low impact on joints and your dog will appreciate the change of pace. Wintertime swimming for dogs is a special treat that nature didn’t intend.

 

Run

This isn’t merely walking quickly. Try mixing it up by alternating a runners pace with a walkers stroll through a park with well-groomed walkways. This will be excellent exercise for dog and owner alike.

 

Fetch

If you have access to some deep virgin snow you can pack in some quick, intense exercise by tossing a brightly-colored object into the thick of it. Your dog will naturally choose a fast pace and will have more of a challenge by wading through the deep snow. As with walking and running, make sure your dog is wearing any winter gear that it needs and can warm up quickly at home.

 

Stairs

Try moving your dog up and down a set of stairs that you can freely access, be it indoors or outdoors. While younger dogs will need to slow down to head downstairs, especially if they don’t deal with them at home, most older dogs are experienced enough to run full-tilt down a set of steps. If your dog requires boots for outdoor weather, make sure there’s no traction issue to avoid causing your pup to tumble.

Don’t let your cat go stir crazy this winter

Regardless of how often your cat goes outside, your cat will need to spend a lot of time indoors this winter. Even if they are an indoor cat, the cold conditions can cause them trouble indoors that they won’t encounter in warmer weather.

First and foremost, do everything you can to make sure your home is warm enough for cat comfort. If your heating system doesn’t reach every room, try giving them a tented cat bed to retreat to for warmth. Any cat bed will lend them extra heat, and if you don’t have one on hand you can always line a cardboard box with a warm towel from the dryer. Make sure the walls are cut down enough that your cat can enter it freely.

If you want to give your cat a real treat, let them use a warming pad to set to a low temperature. Don’t swaddle them down with a towel or restrict their movement in any way in case they get too warm, and only use the warming pad when you can keep an eye on them.

If your cat has a rivalry with any other pets, be aware that heating issues may force them into the same rooms with each other. You may need to play peacemaker, keep them separated or find ways to keep distant rooms warm enough so all your pets can stay comfortable.

If your cat loses its normal daytime outdoor adventures because of snow and ice, make sure you devote some special playtime to keep your cat entertained. The old fluffy mouse on a string, laser pointer or rolling toys are easy ways to keep your cats active with minimal effort on your part.

Keep any curtains and blinds open during the day to allow warm sunbeams to splash across the floor for your pets to bask in. It’s free and they’ll appreciate the effort.

Make sure you keep indoor humidity under control. The dry winter air and heating systems can make the air in your home unbearably dry. Besides the physical discomfort your pets may feel, the dry air can increase static electricity. No cat likes being patted only to receive a big shock when they touch you with their nose.

Finally, if you do have an outdoor cat, consider using a leash and a harness to take your cat for a walk. Yes, they will look silly and some cats would rather be dragged than walked, but if your kitty is cooped up all winter it just might be enough to help them unwind for a few minutes and regain some sanity.

Protecting your pets from rabies

In December, Ontario had its first confirmed case of rabies in the raccoon population in 10 years.  The raccoon was picked up and caged in the back of an animal service van where it was able to get get loose and injure a pair of bull mastiff dogs. The dogs appear to have avoided contracting rabies, but the raccoon did test positive and was destroyed.
Ontario has seen the odd case of rabies in bats here and there for years, but a re-emergence in the raccoon population is a cause for concern. Rabies is commonly spread by bite from an infected animal where saliva gets into the victim’s flesh.

Any bite wounds on pets or people should be washed with soap and water immediately. If there is a possibility that you or an animal were exposed to rabies, or witness a sick animal, notify the city of Toronto at (905) 546-2489 and call your doctor or veterinarian, as treatment is needed as quickly as possible.

Pets should be vaccinated for rabies, as should people who are at at high risk of being exposed to rabid animals. Do not let your pets interact with wild animals and supervise their time outdoors if they could potentially encounter a raccoon.

The rabies virus attacks the central nervous system. Infected cats and dogs will show mild symptoms that will quickly become dramatic if the disease is left untreated. Pets that are far along in the disease will typically either develop a state of paralysis, or one of violent aggressiveness. Symptoms include fevers, seizures, lack of coordination, changes in audible sounds, changes in behavior, excessive and frothy saliva, jaws that will not close and an inability to swallow.

Should you wrap Christmas gifts for pets?

Pets with gift wrapping

Cats, dogs and other pets have long participated in the holiday tradition of unwrapping Christmas presents under the tree, as well as any participation in any other gift-exchanging December holiday their family celebrates.

Most of us even go so far as to wrap the gifts for our pets, and either unwrap them in front of Mittens or help Fido unwrap the gifts. Inside are new toys, pet jackets, snack or cans of premium human food like tuna or beef stew.

Taking a step back, the whole practice sounds kind of silly. Pets are oblivious to the words and images printed on boxes and packaging, so wrapping up a can of shrimp isn’t going to create a Christmas-morning surprise.

But even though they can’t read and depend more on sense of smell then vision, our experiences have been that pets enjoy unwrapping items and discovering what is inside. Sure, they may not be aware that there is something inside for them when they are first presented with the wrapped gift, but if they find a toy mouse or bone inside they will know it’s theirs.

Unlike with kids, you can remove the packaging from pet toys before you wrap them so that they can play with them immediately.

The only thing to look out for is the pet attempting to eat the wrapping paper, which could cause an intestinal blockage. Keep a close eye on your pet during the gift exchange, and avoid using any ribbons, strings, bows or tags when you wrap the gift.

As an alternative, several companies make pet-friendly wrapping paper that can be chewed without causing injury.

Yes, pets can be good gifts

Pets do make good gifts to close loved ones, even for Christmas

We’ve all heard the warnings about giving pets as gifts – it’s supposedly bad for the pets and should never be done. The concern is that the pets will be unwanted and likely to end up in an animal shelter.

But recent research says that’s simply not true.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals conducted research in 2013 to learn the attitudes of people who own gifted pets and found equal love and attachment to gifted pets. Existing research also showed that when pets are sent to animal shelters, less than 1 percent of the pet owners say it’s because they were “unwanted gift.”

In fact, most people with gifted pets believe the act of receiving the pet from a loved one gave them a greater attachment to the pet, even pets that came as a complete surprise.

Now, there are some restrictions. Obviously giving your coworker a new puppy on a whim is a bad idea and puts them in a difficult social situation. Pets are a lot of responsibility and generally a long, long commitment, so you’re best reserving the gift of dog to close relatives or close friends in very limited circumstances. Some people may have restrictions you don’t know about, like family members with allergies who would no longer be able to visit. They may also have a lifestyle that doesn’t work with pet ownership, or be concerned about fur or the cost of having a pet.

Ideally, your gift recipient should have already indicated that they wish for a pet. Getting a pet is a big life change for someone who currently has none, a bigger difference than if someone already has three dogs and receives a fourth.

Pet gifting should not be impulsive. Remember this is supposed to be about improving the enjoyment of a friend. While there are plenty of people it doesn’t make sense to give a pet, giving one to your spouse or child can be a very gesture.

6 ways to make Halloween better for your pets

Pirate Cat

Halloween can be a great time of the year for humans, but for pets it’s a chaotic day with a lot of new hazards and strange happenings that can be confusing or even scary. Here’s six ways to keep your pets safe and happy on All Hallows’ Eve.

Jack-o-lanterns and pets don’t mix

Keep your animals away from lit pumpkins. They may get too close and get singed by the candle or may knock the pumpkin over and create a fire hazard. Both situations can be avoided by keep Jack-o-lanterns outside on Halloween and the pets indoors.

Think twice about pet costumes

Pet costumes are for the amusement of the owners; not the pets. Many pets hate the experience, but some will find it tolerable. If you think your pet won’t mind wearing a silly costume try putting it on them earlier in the week and see if they object or if it shifts around too much for them to handle.

Mind the cords

If you have an elaborate yard display or a haunted house in your garage be very careful where the trailing electrical cords are placed. Pets love to chew on cords and you can prevent them from being zapped to make sure they placed somewhere where little teeth can’t get at them.

Keep your pets indoors on Halloween

A dog in the yard that barks at every person who comes nearby won’t grant an exception to Trick-or-treaters, so keep your dog inside for the night. Halloween is also a night of pranks and busy roads so don’t let your animals outside where they can be decorated and nabbed by pranksters or struck by a vehicle. This goes double for black cats who may be targeted because of the holiday.

Make it impossible for pets to escape

Opportunistic pets love to bolt for the door when it’s opened for visitors. and Halloween is a night of constant door openings. You won’t have to hold onto a pet’s collar while admiring children’s costumes at the door if you put your pets in a safe place, such as a closed bathroom or a roomy cage.

No candy for Fido

Don’t feed your pet Halloween candy. While most people know that chocolate is poisonous to dogs, what’s less known is that the artificial sweetener xylitol is also harmful to dogs. Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free candies and is extremely toxic to dogs.

Why you should brush your pet’s fur twice a week

Grooming Dogs, Brushing Dogs, Toronto VeterinariansBrushing isn’t just about removing tangles and matted fur from your pet’s coat. It also promotes good health and overall wellness in your dog or cat and will help strengthen the bond between pet and owner.

Brushing needs to start early and often. Puppies will need to be introduced to the brush slowly, so let them sniff it before your first few brushing sessions. They may try to chew on it so be ready to pull it away if they try.

Let your first few brushing sessions be light and brief. Make sure it feels like a positive experience for your pet, and not a chore or an unpleasant task. Stop if you find yourself getting frustrated to avoid making it unpleasant.

Reward your pet with praise and gentle strokes to reinforce good behavior during brushing and gradually make the grooming sessions longer. Brush every few days and consider setting up a regular brushing schedule, like every Sunday afternoon and Wednesday evening.

Not only will routine brushing help you and your pet grow closer, but the activity is beneficial for your pet’s fur and skin. It pulls off dead fur and skin cells, spreads the pet’s natural oils around its coat to improve the shine and luster and it stimulates the blood supply to the skin.

With a firm but gentle stroke your dog or cat will grow to love your regular brushing sessions.

Fall is the perfect time to walk your dog

 

Walk your pet in Toronto this fall, Toronto Veterinarian Pet Health

When you walk your dog in the summer the experience can range from pure joy on beautiful days to a gauntlet of fire on the days when you and your pet are baked under the sun. You may have had some particularly hot days that stand out in your mind that you would hate to repeat.

 

Well, count your stars because the golden season for dog walking is coming upon us. Fall is nearly here and worries about heatstroke and sunburn can take a backseat. Dehydration should always be on your radar as a dog owner, but watering your dog will be a lot easier.

 

If you’re fortunate enough to have easy access to walking trails, now is the perfect time to take advantage of them. With summer vacations already over, there will be fewer pulls on the leash from passing by a group of teens and adolescents. Those young people are back at school and there will be less temptation to stop to let them pet your dog.

 

Mosquitos are in fewer numbers during the cool autumn months, so walking through the woods will be a much more pleasant experience. Ticks, on the other hand, do not take the fall off so make sure you check through your dog’s fur for any when you return.

 

But beyond the loss of all of those negative things, mmll is simply a beautiful time to take your dog for a walk. Dogs greatly enjoy the complex smells and sounds the fall season brings with them. It’s also a great way to keep you and your pet in shape. Don’t just aim for a morning and evening dog walking experience; plan a weekend afternoon or a family activity around it.

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