End of life decision making

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Wed, Mar 21, 2018 @ 11:39 AM

pets_wide-af65d25cd6980441331f3eae6f52334d1aa7d74f.jpgPets quickly become a cherished member of the family and it can be hard to imagine life without them. However, part of life is aging and pets generally have much shorter lives than their owners. When the time comes to make a decision for your pet, it's never going to be easy. But you can move forward with peace of mind that you did the right thing if you follow certain signs and do the right amount of research. The day will be hard, but in the end, euthanizing your pet can be what's best for everyone involved. When considering whether euthanasia is the right direction for your family and your pet, think of the items in their life like a pyramid and use these tips to help you make the agonizing decision.

Emotional Aspects

The emotional involvement of your pet is at the top of the pyramid. It will help make a small portion of the decision. Ask yourself if your pet still has their dignity. Can they go to the bathroom on their own and eat alone or do they need help with some of the most basic items? Do they seem lax in their will to live or are they still looking for attention and acting like themselves? These emotional items will tell you a little more about what your pet might want if they could talk to you.

Social Elements

You know what your pet is like when they are healthy. How they act socially will tell you a lot about the direction you should take. Does your pet still engage with your family and play? Do they want to have pets and cuddles like they used to? Are they engaged with the other pets in your house if you have them? Pets who show some social engagement are healthier and in a better place than those who don't. If your pet is pulling back in a social way, they may be nearing the end of their time with you.

Pain Management

The bottom part of the pyramid is the largest portion and a big deciding factor as to what you need to do with your pet. You want your pet to be happy and healthy, but when they're not, you want to ensure that they aren't in any pain, if at all possible. Take a look at their mobility and hygiene. Are they able to keep clean like they used to and get around as needed? Are they safe or are they stumbling and stairs becoming a danger to them? Sometimes you can tell a pet is in pain because of the way they act and other times, they suffer silently. The best thing you can do when it comes to pain is consult with your vet. They are experts in the field and can tell you what your pet may be experiencing. The last thing you want is for your pet to suffer and if it is evident they are and there's no end in sight, you will know what to do.

Every pet is an individual and an important member of your family. No two pets are alike and there is no one right answer when it comes to the end of their life. If you are able to take a look at the emotional, social, and physical pyramid and fill in the gaps, you will better be able to come up with an answer that will give you peace of mind about the direction you take with your pet.

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Topics: pet resources, pet care, pet cancer, exotic pet care, dog care, cat care

Ways to Tell If Your Cat Is Sick

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Tue, Feb 07, 2017 @ 06:39 AM


All too often, pet owners don't realize that their cat is sick until their dear friend is very ill. However, most problems are best treated if recognized early. Unfortunately, cats are good a hiding their pain and they may even instinctively hide themselves away when they are sick because in the wild that is safer. Luckily, your pet doesn't have to get better on their own. You can help them get treatment from a veterinarian if you pay attention to these ways a cat tells you they are sick:

Behavior Changes

Did your previously well-trained cat start eliminating outside the litter box? Is your generally independent cat suddenly more clinging? Or is your friendly cat suddenly hiding under the bed all the time? Cats are animals who love routine and any change in behavior can be an indicator of anxiety or illness. If you've recently moved or changed a routine, that might account for the behavioral change, but if not, suspect illness and consider taking your pet to the vet.

Eating and Drinking Differences

Have there been changes in your cat's eating and drinking habits? Drinking more or less water could indicate kidney disease, or perhaps diabetes, especially in an older cat. Eating more could show hyperthyroidism. Eating less might be an indicator of a dental problem or perhaps even cancer. Since changes in eating and drinking patterns can be signs of a serious disease, you need to make sure a medical professional evaluates your pet, especially if the problems persist.

Losing or Gaining Weight

Some disorders cause weight loss or gain without a change in eating habits. So if you pick up your cat and notice they are heavier or lighter than before, that can be a clue they may need medical attention.

Bad Breath

Don't just hold your breath if your cat has halitosis. Bad breath may not be just a problem that makes it less pleasant for you to interact with your pet. Kidney disease, digestive disorders, and dental disease can all cause bad smells in a cat's mouth. Let your veterinarian decide whether this is something that you need to treat.

Grooming Less Carefully

Does your cat's hair look mangy? Is your cat not grooming as fastidiously as in the past? Cats are careful in their personal grooming and if your cat is not looking its best, it can be a sign they have pain from arthritis or dental disease.

More or Less Sleeping

Let's face it, all cats do sleep a lot. However, if your cat is more lethargic and sleeping even more than before, that can be a sign they aren't feeling well. Just as humans often sleep when we are sick, cats do too. Your pet's health care provider should be consulted.

More or Less Talking

Is your cat vocalizing more than usual? Or maybe your usually frenetic cat suddenly becomes silent. Take more or less "talking" as a clue your pet may have a medical condition. Changes in vocalization can be caused by feline cognitive dysfunction, high blood pressure, anxiety or hyperthyroidism. Have your pet checked out.

The Bottom Line

Is your cat acting differently? Do you see some of these signs? You are your cat's best friend and first health care provider. Since you see them every day, you are the one who can best notice that they need help and take them to your veterinarian for a check-up. Purrs and love from your cat will thank you!

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Topics: cat care, best vet, pet cancer, Halifax vet, pet behaviour

November: National Pet Cancer Awareness month

Posted by Halifax Veterinary Hospital Blogging Team on Mon, Nov 07, 2016 @ 12:16 PM

pet cancer.jpgThanks to the continual advancement of veterinary medicine, dogs and cats are living longer and healthier lives. We love hearing how pet care is evolving and support the continual research and development of all areas of veterinary care, especially cancer prevention, treatment and awareness. As an AAHA certified hospital (certified by the American Animal Hospital Association), the Halifax Veterinary Hospitals are committed to providing the best technology and healthcare for your pets – including cancer treatment.

We abide by the 2016 AAHA Oncology Guidelines for Dogs and Cats and use its resources and tips for diagnosing various tumor types; determining the stage of cancer; evaluating treatment options such as surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and adjunctive medications; follow-up care; safety protocols; and other considerations for determining the approach best suited to each individual patient.

The AAHA guidelines emphasize the importance of good communication with pet owners and we could not agree more. Our veterinary staff is always here for pet parents who may have questions regarding a cancer diagnosis and want to ensure them that we understand how difficult deciding the right course of treatment for your pet can be. We like to think of ourselves as your personal support team; we are here to help you from the moment you bring your pet into the hospital. We want to ensure our patients and their owners are comfortable. Most of us are proud pet owners too and because of that our lives revolve around the health and wellbeing of pets.

Pet Cancer Detection Tips

To detect cancer early, pet owners should be attentive to any growing lumps or sores on their pet that fail to heal. They should also monitor their pet for: 1) drastic changes in the pet’s appetite or weight; 2) unusually strong odors coming from a pet; 3) discharge or bleeding from any body opening; 4) difficulty chewing or swallowing; or 5) an unwillingness to exercise.

Halifax Veterinary Hospital, Fairview Animal Hospital and Spryfield Animal Hospital are offer preventive and early detection medical care. If you think your pet may have a health issue, don’t hesitate to call us today. We are here to help.

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Topics: animal hospital, early detection, pet cancer