Dr. Bob's Animal Health and Information  Site



Dr. Bobs Pet Health and Information Site




Dr. Bob's All Creatures Site 

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Dr. Bob's All Creatures Site   

509 Benicia Road, Vallejo, California, USA 707-642-4405


Summer 2000 Newsletter










A Couple of Thoughts ...


1. Will Rodgers once said that "The best kind of doctor is a vet.  His patients can't tell him what's the matter. He just has to know."  While Will's famous quote is still relatively true, the fact is that a number of our diagnostic tools and instruments have gotten a lot better over the years.  Our knowledge as a profession has also increased as well.  Of course, new equipment and knowledge often comes with a price tag.  As our valued client, we want you to know that we are doing everything we can to  stay current with the advances in veterinary medicine.  Our staff attends numerous meetings to hear from experts about the latest techniques and information affecting our profession.  In short, we are doing our part to ensure that your beloved pet  receives the very finest in medical care.  This is our commitment to you!

2. Summer reminders: Make sure your pets have plenty of clean, fresh water at all times! If your pet spends time outdoors during the day, make sure he or she has access to a shady spot.  If your pet is traveling with you on vacation, make sure your pet has an  up-to-date identification tag in case he or she gets lost and bring along proof of rabies vaccination.  If your pet should accidentally bite someone, you will be glad you had the documentation.

3. This issue of our newsletter is primarily dedicated to the care of our senior pets. On page two, we have published a chart that shows when your pet is considered a senior.  Some may think that a six year old St. Bernard is not a senior but I assure you, that considering their life expectancy, a six year old St. Bernard is beyond middle age!  Beginning senior screenings early will hopefully boost your pet's anticipated life span so those wonderful eyes of theirs' can keep shining on you.

How Old is "OLD"?

It is relatively safe to say that a St. Bernard and a Jack Russell terrier do not age at the same rate.  For example, they may both  be four years old but the St. Bernard is, from a strictly medical viewpoint, "older".  Indeed, certain  breeds, mixed breeds, and generally, smaller dogs, tend to live longer.  A smaller dog may not show any aging signs until it is about nine - a larger dog may show these same signs at age five.


Listed to the right is a helpful chart that illustrates when senior examinations should begin.  Please keep in mind that the ages listed here are not "cast in stone".  we have also listed below reasons why the veterinarian may want to start seeing your pet earlier than stated on the chart.


     Pet Weight            Suggested Onset of Senior Examinations

    Dogs up to 15 pounds              Age 9 to 11

    Dogs 16 to 50 pounds              Age 7 to 9

    Dogs 51 to 80 pounds              Age 6 to 8

    Dogs over 80 pounds                Age 4 to 6

    ALL CATS                              Age 7 to 11* 

    *See the next page for additional information on caring for your senior cat.


What Owners of Senior Pets Should Do

1. Have the veterinarian perform a senior examination.  The frequency of these examinations depends greatly upon the condition  of your pet although many senior pets are seen semi-annually.  During these examinations the veterinarian may:


  • perform a thorough physical examination
  • draw blood for various tests
  • possibly administer an electrocardiogram
  • administer any other diagnostic tests deemed appropriate due to your pet's medical history and current condition.
  • discuss with you what should be done to care for your senior.


2. The pet owner should be alert to the signs of aging such as:
  • A change in the pet's behavior often occurs with advancing age.
  • Sudden loss of both appetite and weight.
  • Increased appetite or thirst without increase in activity or weight gain could mark the onset of diabetes
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Sudden onset of weakness and fatigue.
  • Coughing and excessive panting may indicate heart disease
  • Stops chewing suddenly or looks like he or she is eating in a gingerly fashion is a sign the pet's teeth and gums need attention.
  • Difficulty in getting up may indicate the presence of arthritis
  • Barking needlessly, having accidents, roaming in circles and disorientation may all be indicators of illness.

   If, according to our chart, you are the proud owner of a senior dog and you have not yet had Fido undergo a senior examination, please call our office today to make an appointment.  Allowing us to catch problems early is the key to having your beloved pet with you for many more years to come.

Don't delay-call today!






The American Association of Feline Practicioners and the Academy of Feline Medicine recently developed guidelines for senior feline care.  It is extremely worthwhile to quote from the report as follows:


"Aging is a normal phenomenon.  Cat owners tent to attribute everything going on with their older cat as being a response to  age.  The panel emphasized that a lot of conditions can be corrected or managed successfully to improve the quality of cats' lives."


"Regular preventive health care for the early detection of ailments is extremely important for all ages but especially for older cats where changes and disease progression can occur within a short period of time.  Medical and behavioral problems in older cats usually have a specific underlying cause that can be managed if detected early."


" To provide the best quality of care we can for cats is going to   require more frequent examinations.  Veterinarians should discuss with cat owners that twice-yearly veterinary examinations are important once a cat reaches the ages of seven to eleven years."


Your comments, thoughts, and questions are always appreciated.  Please give our office a call regarding the care of your senior feline.


Living With Your Older Pet

Here are some day-to-day things to consider when caring for and living with your older pet:

  1. Weather - A pet's coat gets a little thinner and its circulation less efficient with age. Keep this in mind when taking your pet outdoors in the heat of summer or the cold of winter.

  2. Companionship - An older pet tends to sleep more but still needs your attention.  Keeping your pet involved in your life will increase his or her sense of security.

  3. Sleeping Areas - Many older dogs,  particularly those with arthritis in the hips and back seem to prefer sleeping on an "egg crate" type mattress as they tend to take the pressure off the dog's bony areas.  Many older pet owners place beds in several spots around the house where their pet likes to nap during the day.

  4. Foods - The cheapest brands of pet food are not suggested for your older pet.  Your pet's specific nutritional needs will be discussed during the senior examination.  for owners of larger dogs, we suggest that you elevate the food and water bowls off the floor thus allowing your pet easier access.

  5. Exercise - Proper exercise is essential to pets as it is to humans.  In older dogs for example, obesity is the most common condition that  veterinarians see and lack of exercise is a critical component to this condition.  Here are some tips for owners of older dogs:

    • Smaller dogs, even  younger ones, are not designed for distance running

    • Try taking your dog on two shorter walks rather than one long one.

    • If your dog has been diagnosed with hip dysplasia, seek the veterinarians advice on an exercise program.

    • If you play "fetch", do not throw the ball or toy as far.

    • Dogs desperately want to please us.  They may over-exert  themselves in this attempt.

    • Good grooming is important.  Regularly brush your   senior's coat - it is their first line of defense against fleas, wetness, and cold.

    • Your senior dog's nails may need to be clipped every three weeks instead of monthly.

    • Some older dogs are prone to ear problems.  If your dog starts shaking its head a lot or if you notice a bad odor or discharge from the ears, call our office immediately.

    • Older dogs love the "status quo."  when their life is suddenly disrupted with a sudden change (like a new puppy - often the older dog's replacement!) - they become agitated.  Discuss any known changes to you senior's life with our staff first as we can supply  you with some helpful hints.

Please feel free to call our office if you have any questions concerning the care of your senior pet.


Recent Study Says Pets Prevent Allergies

A recent study suggest the possibility that keeping a dog or cat in the home may protect a child from developing allergies to pets, dust mites, grasses, and pollens later on in life.

In the study of more than 700 children, 38.7% of the infants lived with one or more dogs, while 23.1% were in households with cats, 48% had no animals at home, and about 10% had at least 1 dog and 1 cat.

By age 7, children who lived with one or more pets as infants were no more likely than those in the pet-free households to show signs of allergic reactions or asthma.  The study suggested that children exposed to pets at a younger age were less likely to have signs of allergy to pets.  Some European studies have also shown that having a pet when a child is very young may actually be protective against allergies later on.

If pets do protect children against allergies, it is not clear why this hapens

Source: Veterinary Practice News

Why Semi-Annual Senior Pet Examinations

We are  sometimes asked why various veterinary societies (like the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Association of Feline Practicioners) suggest semi-annual rather of annual examinations of our senior pets.


As noted above in this newsletter, pets age at a rather rapid  rate when compared to their human owners.  Because of this accelerated aging process, having only one examination a year would be the human-age equivalent of one exam every five years! Too much can happen during this span of time that would deny us the opportunity of catching problems at an early, treatable stage.  As a result, we would like to see our senior patients every six months.

Please give us a call if you have any questions or comments.

Feline Obesity & Weight Management

A recent survey of 577 cat owners suggest a need to educate cat owners about obesity and weight management.  The study suggests that having more than one person  in a family feeding the cat could increase the risk of multiple feedings.

Among the findings are:

  • 56% of cat owners say more than one family member feeds the cat

  • 54% of cat owners feed treats to show affection

  • 47% of cat owners don't know how to determine if their cat is overweight.
  • 40% of cat owners describe their cats as obese and are doing nothing about it.
  • 30% of cat owners feed their cat table scraps.

Obesity robs your cat of years of its life. If you think it is time Kitty shed a few pounds, give us a call.  We have the specialized products, the knowledge, and the commitment to help you make a difference in your cat's life.