Each November, we celebrate old dogs during their “official” month. But when is your dog considered old? Shadow-Pup at just over two year’s old, has a way to go. We love our senior citizen dogs for the special joy they bring every day. But once a year, we celebrate old dogs during November Adopt A Senior Pet Month. Here are 8 reasons to consider adopting a senior pet.
I’ve updated some of the information from when it first published back when my Magical-Dawg and Seren-Kitty were still around. For instance, we’ve recently replaced our carpets with hardwood floors. So when our Shadow-Pup reaches senior status, we’ll help him out with some accommodations like these “toe grips” from Dr. Buzby that help reduce unsteady gaits.
What Is Old for Dogs?
Magic was just over eleven years old when he passed away, and my first GSD lived to thirteen and a half. One is middle-aged and the other considered geriatric, and a lot of it has to do with the size of the pet. When our furry friends reach a “certain age” it becomes much more important to stay on top of changes, and just keep ’em comfy during their golden years.
My first GSD (below) launched my pet-writing career. He waited until we got home from work, and died with us beside him, on Halloween night. I still miss him.
How Old are Old Dogs?
What is considered “old?” There are individual differences between pets, just as there are for people. While one person may act, look and feel “old” at fifty-five, another fifty-five-year-old remains active with a youthful attitude and appearance. Aging is influenced by a combination of genetics, environment, and health care over a lifetime. The oldest dog on record was an Australian Cattle Dog who lived for twenty-nine years and five months.
A good definition of old age for an animal is the last 25 percent of her life. However, we can’t accurately predict what an individual pet’s lifespan will be, so pinpointing when old age begins is tough. Ask the breeder about the lifespan of your pet’s parents and grandparents. That’s a good predictor of how long you could expect your cat or dog to live. Mixed-ancestry pets are more difficult to predict, but you can make a few generalities.
How to Predict Old Dogs Lifespan
In the past fifty years, the average lifespan of small dogs like the Maltese above, has tripled. They used to live to be only six or seven years old, but today it’s not unusual for your Chihuahua to live into late teens or early twenties. With an average potential lifespan of fifteen to seventeen years, the onset of old age—when a little dog becomes “senior”—would be about age eleven to thirteen.
Even large-breed dogs, which age more quickly, commonly reach ten to thirteen years of age—double the lifespan of the past few decades. They would, therefore, be considered old starting at about seven years.
Giant breed dogs (those weighing over eighty pounds or so) tend to age more quickly than smaller pets. Great Danes, for example, are considered “senior” at age five, and typically live only seven to nine years. There are exceptions, of course, with some very large dogs living healthy, happy lives well into their teens. Though he’s no longer a puppy, Bravo (below) weighs just over 100 pounds (he lost 20 pounds when he lost his leg to cancer). As a “giant” breed, we tried to keep him happy and healthy as long as possible. Although his chemo treatment slowed his disease we cherished every day as a win!
Old Dogs & Youthful Doggedness?
So you have an old fogey doggy–how do you keep him youthful? What happens when that go-go-go puppy attitude turns into a yen for snoozing the day away? Dogs can become frustrated when their youthful abilities fade away and they’re no longer able to leap tall buildings–or onto sofas–with a single bound, or chase the Frisbee and catch it without effort. They may suffer from brain aging, but you can reverse or slow senility with these tips.
I have one word for you: ACCOMMODATION.
Enrich the Environment
Enrich the dog’s environment and make accommodations for his new skill set. Agility dogs can still perform all those tricks of fetch and vault, just lower the bar a bit. For blind dogs, put a bell inside the ball or scent with liverwurst so his nose knows where to find it. For deaf dogs, you can use hand signals and replace the clicker with a flashlight beam flicking on and off.
It’s the time of year when the new kitten is SURE she’s missing out–and so makes a mad door dashing escape to find out about the great outdoors. In my neck of the woods, that’s a recipe for disaster (and the coyotes). There are ways to keep outside cats safe in this post.
This topic always gets lots of attention. Note: This information and more is available in the ComPETablity: Cats book, too. And should the unthinkable happen, refer to this post about how to find lost pets.
My Cat Wants Outside
There is a saying, that a cat is “always on the wrong side of a door.” My cat Seren(dipity) faithfully adhered to this principle, although with age, her dash-for-the-door became more like a stroll. Karma-Kat these days waits for the dog’s potty time, and makes a bee-line for the door. When you live with a cat, chances are you’ll have a door dashing cat escape now and then.
Dealing with door dashing cats is particularly frustrating for owners. Even when Kitty understands that a particular location (the doorway) is forbidden, she may avoid the place when you’re looking but making a zooming escape as soon as visitors arrive and the door cracks a whisker-width open. Kitties easily get scared with unusual circumstances–storms or fireworks, or howling neighbor dogs. And with a flick of the tail, your cat slinks out the door and disappears.
What can you do? Recognize you will NOT stop a cat’s urge to see on the other side of the door. You cannot change instinct, but you can modify some of these irksome behaviors.
How to Stop Door Dashing Cats
Encourage her to stay away from danger zones with training techniques. Any time you see the cat lounging near the doorway, use an interruption such as a loud “SSST!” or clapped hands to shoo her away. The idea is to make the doorway area unappealing, so that kitty keeps away—and offer her a more rewarding pastime.
Some cats are dissuaded with the help of a long-distance squirt gun aimed at their backside. However, some cats like my Seren enjoy being sprayed. Other cats become too frightened, or even switch to aggression with such techniques. Also, you must always be there for this to work. Cats typically see you pick up the spray bottle, and behavior only when you’re within sight, and look for other times and ways to door dash. Frankly, the spray isn’t all that effective and can do damage to your relationship. There are better ways.
Cute funny cat walking through door at home
Tips to Keep Cats Away from Doorways
Make the entry way unfriendly. Many cats dislike the feeling of walking on aluminum foil, so place a couple of sheets over the walkway. Or use Sticky Paws (double-sided tape) to make the surface uncomfortable. Put the Sticky Paws on placemats positioned on the forbidden area, so it’s easily removed. You can also use clear plastic floor mats placed spike-side up so the cat will avoid the area.
The SSSCAT is a cat-repellent device that sprays a hiss of air to startle the pet that triggers the built-in motion detector—you don’t have to be present for it to work. You may also use smell deterrents to keep the cat away from forbidden doorway zones. Cats dislike citrus smells, so orange or lemon scents sprayed at the bottom of the door may help.
Offer Kitty Legal Alternatives to the Doorway Dash
Many cats adore doorway areas to watch the comings and goings, and they often perch on furniture or windows nearby. While you can make these spots unappealing, consider it’s not fair and also nearly impossible to forbid a much loved activity. Offer her legal outlets that are more attractive than the forbidden zones, and she’ll naturally choose to lounge there and abandon the doorway dash.
Position a cat tree or kitty bed on a table top right in front of a window some distance away from the forbidden door. Make this the most wonderful cat lounge spot ever—hide catnip or food treats in the bed, for example. Before you go out the door, make a point of giving your cat the best-treat-in-the-world, but only if she’s on this cat tree/bed (a safe distance from the door). While she munches, you can make a safe exist. Enlist help from friends to knock at the door or ring the doorbell to practice, so arrivals also make kitty think, “Hey, it’s TREAT time!”
Choose your battles and perhaps allow her to lounge on the television as long as she leaves the doorway alone. Karma enjoys his multilevel cat tree by a window on the same wall as the front door. He can watch all comings and goings from the window—and gets paid with a treat for planting his furry tail and staying put.
Karma also loves sitting on the stained glass kitchen table, to watch through the windows and chatter at the birds and squirrels. But when Shadow-Pup takes his potty break from the back door in the kitchen, though, Karma stays out of the kitchen. We close our pet gates to keep him out, and Karma safe.
Do your cats beg to go outside? Perhaps you have a terrific safe outside kitty playground–how did you create it? What are safety tips or training advice that have worked with your cat? The Ask Amy video below has some suggestions, too.
Mosquitoes swarm these days when I work in the garden. I worry about dog heartworms with the increase of these buggy pests. Are your dogs protected? Do you know how dogs get heartworm? Read on!
I hate mosquitos not only because they’re itchy aggravation, but these nasty vampires spread deadly dog heartworms. That can make your dog sick or worse—it could kill her. Dogs are the natural host–but they also can affect cats–and heartworms have been a problem at least since 1922 when they were first discovered. Today heartworms are found all over the world.
The heartworm Dirofilaria immitis belongs to a group of parasites called filarids, and is a type of roundworm. They live in the right heart chambers and pulmonary arteries—the lungs—of infected dogs. As you can imagine, lungs and heart filled with worms can damage and interfere with normal organ function. You won’t be able to tell if your puppy has heartworms. You can’t see them the way you can fleas or ticks. And your dog won’t even act sick until she’s been infected for quite a while.
Hunting dogs that spend lots of time outdoors are at highest risk.
Despite the availability of effective and easy to use heartworm preventive options, the disease appears to be on the rise. In just two years, from 2013-2015, there was a 166 percent increase in reported positive heartworm cases, according to the Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC). Additionally, the American Heartworm Society (AHS) has tracked the geographic spread of heartworm disease to all 50 states and its increased prevalence in several regions of the country.
So what’s a pet parent to do?
UPDATE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS & MOSQUITOES
A groundbreaking study by John McCall, MS, PhD addresses this concern. He investigated the effectiveness of stopping heartworm disease at the buggy transmission source. His research shows that a multi-modal approach (adding mosquito repellents and insecticides alongside standard heartworm preventive protocols), offers even better protection for our dogs.
I first reported on this study back in Fall 2016. The study, sponsored by CEVA, explored the efficacy of a new “Double Defense” protocol. John McCall is a professor emeritus in the Department of Infectious Diseases at the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine. After fighting heartworm the same way for decades, McCall says it’s time for a new approach that includes fighting the mosquito as well as the heartworm.
PREVENTING VS TREATING HEARTWORMS
Preventives that address heartworms are one important part of canine health care. But until recently, preventing the vector (mosquito) hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, according to Byron Blagburn, MS, PhD, DAVCM, a professor of parasitology,, researcher, and author of the mosquito control guidelines.
The Companion Animal Parasite Council (CAPC) included more information on how to control mosquitoes, adding science-based evidence to these guidelines on mosquito control. New recommendations include choosing heartworm and parasite prevention products that also address the mosquito menace. Several canine products are available, and you should consult with your veterinarian for the best choices for your individual dogs and circumstances.
According to the Heartworm Incidence Survey from the American Heartworm Society, the average number of dogs diagnosed per clinic in 2016 rose by 21.7 percent over 2013 numbers (date of the last survey). AHS president and veterinarian Dr. Christopher Rehm says that the distribution of cases hasn’t dramatically changed, 24% of respondents said the average number of positive dogs has increased since 2013.
2021 Heartworm Predictions–Keep Dogs Safe!
LEARN MORE ABOUT DOG HEARTWORMS
Please ask YOUR veterinarian about how you can best protect your dogs from mosquitoes and dog heartworms. Learn more about Dr. McCall’s CEVA-funded study in this short video.
Several years ago, I interviewed Dr. Wallace Graham about prevention, treatment and more in my Pet Peeves radio show. Much of this information is still valid, so find out more about how to keep cats and dogs safe from heartworm disease in PET PEEVES, HEART-TO-HEART ABOUT HEARTWORMS.
Kitten litter box training tops the list for frequently asked questions from new kitten owners. Planning ahead can save cat lovers lots of heartache by preventing litter box problems before they happen with kitten potty training..
Whenever new kittens come to your home, it’s important to figure out what they know, plus help them learn the new rules of the house. When you have other cats (after proper cat introductions, of course!) the older felines can help teach the youngsters the rules. How to train cats to the litter box usually comes naturally, but these tips can help with potty training your cat.
How to Potty Train Cats with Kitten Litter Box Training
Congratulations on your new kitten adoption! Most cats come pre-programmed to use the potty but you’ll need help if the baby is very young. Felines are great imitators and simply “copy cat” their mother’s behavior when they watch and follow her to the litter box. Most kittens and cats will already know what a litter box is for and how to use it by the time you adopt them.
But if you hand-raise an orphan or adopt a kitten younger than 8 to 10 weeks, you’ll need to do the job of the mother cat. Transitioning outdoor cats to an indoor lifestyle also may mean re-training bathroom etiquette from “going” among the flowers to aiming for the litter box. Check out the Ask Amy video below, and you’ll find more of the basics here.
Kitten Litter Box Training Preparation
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Felines are naturally clean creatures and dislike eliminating where they sleep or eat. They also appreciate privacy when (ahem) doing their duty. Build allegiance to the litter box by positioning it correctly, in a low-traffic area away from the cat’s bed and food bowls. Also remember that kittens may not have the physical capacity to “hold it” long enough to run clear across the house or down the stairs. Provide a box on each end of the house, or one per floor.
SIZE MATTERS. A regular size box may be too large for new kittens to climb in and out. A disposable cookie sheet works until he’s bigger. Average size adult cats do well with standard commercial litter pans, but jumbo-size cats (Maine Coon kitties come to mind!) may need larger toilets or risk hanging over the sides when they pose. Translucent plastic storage bins with a cat-size hole cut in one side may be ideal.
FILLER ‘ER UP WITH…WHAT? A variety of cat box fillers are available, from plain clay to pine pellets and recycled wheat or corn crumbles. The ideal material absorbs moisture, contains waste and odor, and most important of all, suits the cat. Fine textures such as the “clumping” clay litters seem to be the feline favorite. Fill the box an inch or so deep with the filler. Learn about the history of litter here.
If you’re transitioning an outdoor cat to an indoor box, do a bit of research and follow him to find out his preferred substrate. Changing litter too fast can prompt hit or miss potty behavior. Dusting a bit of plain garden dirt, or a layer of grass or leaves over top of the commercial litter may help give him the idea of what you have in mind. Give your cat what he wants and kitten litter box training will be a breeze! And if you already have other pets, you may want to invest in a pet gate or pet door to control the space in your house.
Kitten Litter Box Training: How to Potty Train Cats
Get all the MUST KNOWS for your new kitten in the book!
Kittens and cats new to your home won’t know where the box is, even if they know what it’s for. Place the kitty on top of the clean litter and scratch around with your fingers to prompt imitation. Even if the cat doesn’t need to “go,” a pristine box often tempts them to dig a bit, which may lead to the first deposit.
When he’s creative in the box, reward your cat with verbal praise, a toy, or even a tasty treat reserved only for training. Don’t pick your new kitty up out of the box. Let him make his own way out of the box and the room, so he’ll better remember how to get back there the next time nature calls.
For tiny kittens, leave one recent deposit in the box after he’s been productive. The scent is a reminder of where the box is, and what he’s supposed to do once he’s there. But remember to keep the box clean or the cat will avoid the dirty toilet and find a better spot—such as under your bed.
Until you’re sure the kitty consistently uses the box, make a point of scheduling potty times. Kittens need to eliminate more frequently than adults do. Take the baby for a pit stop after each nap, meal, and play period. Playtime is fun for kittens–and you! Learn more about how pets play here.
Teaching basic bathroom allegiance from the beginning ensures your kitten gets off on the right paw—and saves your carpet. You’ll find even more of kitten “must knows” in the book Complete Kitten Care. Have you ever had problems training kittens to “go” in the right spot? How did you manage?
Whenever a new cat arrives, cat to cat introductions take over so read on to learn how to introduce cats. We base cat training on kitten behavior to get the most out of the learning process. Each spring heralds that lovely time of the year for happy surprises, and that may mean a new kitten in your holiday plans. If that’s you, and you already have a feline, prepare in advance for cat introductions of the resident feline to the new baby. Many times, shelters and rescue groups recommend adopting PAIRS of kitties. That way, if the cats already know each other — or the kittens are littermates — they help entertain and soothe each other. Instead of chasing and attacking your feet, they target each other.
It can be heartbreaking when the cats you love don’t get along. Proper introductions help enormously to soothe the angst.
One of the most common questions I get involves cat introductions and introducing cats (new ones) to the resident felines. I’ve got some pet introductions information in several of my books, and it actually works! Authors adore getting notes from readers, like the one I received from a writer colleague, Carol Johnson, who is an assistant professor of English at Tulsa Community College. She’d had some problems integrating her newest kitty friend with the rest of the cat household:
“Thanks to you Barney is still here. I’ve raised dozens of cats, from wild barn cats to purebreds, but he was the most fearful, traumatized little guy I’ve ever seen. I read your book on kitten care and in two weeks he was out from under the bed. Two more weeks and he’s terrorizing the other four. I’ll be two more weeks and he’ll own the place. Every last one of the previous cats has taken to him, and I followed your advice about a room of his own and introducing them slowly.” She’s posted a more detailed (and very flattering!) review on amazon.com.
YAY!!! Carol’s note made my day that information in Complete Kitten Care made such a positive difference. The book covers lots more of course about choosing, adoption options, caring for, and raising the furry baby to be the best cat friend possible. These cat introduction tips work no matter what age kitty you have.
Why Cat Introductions Are Vital, or YOU SMELL FUNNY!
Getting hissy with strange cats is a NORMAL cat behavior. In the wild, the feline that’s too friendly with a weird interloper risks getting eaten. Cats identify safe people (or other pets) by their familiar smell. A fresh-from-the-shelter a new pet that hasn’t been kitty-groomed by the group with licks and cheek rubs might as well be Frankenstein-Cat. Learn more about scared cats here.
The sight, sound, and smell of a strange cat pushes kitty buttons to extreme. But blocking one sense (sight of each other for example) reduces arousal. That helps enormously during cat-to-cat intros, which is one reason my must-do list includes initially separating the cats. That also allows your older cat to maintain run of the house and ownership of all the prime kitty real estate.
You can learn more about easing the transition in multi-cat households (with a DISCOUNTED EBOOK) in the ComPETability: Cats book.
Introducing Cats Requires a Room Of Her Own
Confine the new kitten in a single “safe room” so the resident cat understands only part of his territory has been invaded. Young kittens that haven’t a clue anyway won’t care. But if they’re the least shy, being sequestered offers a safe, soothing retreat with a litter box, food and water bowls, toys, scratch post and other kitty paraphernalia. Being the “new kid” can be stressful for shrinking violet kittens so build the baby’s confidence with a room of his or her own before the whisker-to-whisker meeting.
Keep the solid door closed for at least a week before risking a face-to-face. Watch for your resident cat’s reaction. Hisses are normal. Trust me on this! It may take more than three weeks before those growly-sounds fade.
See, if you try to intro them too soon and the fur flies, the cats will remember that AWFUL-NASTY-TURRIBLE-DEVIL and bring a bad c’attitude to future meetings. It’s better to take it slow and avoid having the kitties practice bad behavior. They’ll have a lifetime together so what’s a delay of a few days or weeks?
Sniffing and paw pats underneath the door are positive signs. The cats should “know” each other by scent before they ever set eyes on each other. Expect normal posturing, fluffed fur and hissing and when that begins to fade, you’re ready for the next step. Note that kittens can seem aggressive but are just playing. Learn more here.
THE NEXT STEP WITH CAT INTRODUCTIONS
Swap out the cats after a few days. That gives the old cat a chance to get up close and personal sniffing where the devil new cat has been. And it allows the newly adopted baby to scope out the environment. Kitties have no interest in meeting new people or pets unless they feel comfortable with their environment.
Reduce any potential kitty controversy by creating a house of plenty. Your home should have so much good-kitty-stuff like lots of toys, litter boxes and scratch trees that there’s no need for the kitten and old cat to argue over it.
Nose to Nose At Last! What to Expect When Introducing Cats
Once the BIG DAY arrives, just open the “safe room” door, stand back, and let the cat’s meet. You can do this using pet gates or pet doors, and then later open the door completely. Supervise, of course, but don’t force interaction. You can feed them on opposite sides of the room or play interactive games at a distance to smooth this first meeting. The cats may ignore each other for hours or days and that’s fine, too.
Do stop the interactions if growls start rumbling. You may want to replace the closed door with a baby gate so the cats can sniff and meet through the safety of a barrier but still be segregated. Until you’re sure the old cat won’t mangle the baby, or the baby won’t terrorize the oldster, supervise or keep the new kitten segregated when you can’t. It can be love at first sight or may take weeks or months to accept somebody new into the family.
Do your cats get along? What do they think of the new kittens? What has been your experience? And how did you come up with your new kitten’s name? (tips here for choosing kitty names.) Please share! And I hope you’ll share this blog with other cat lovers debating about adopting another kitty. You can find many more cat introduction tips and tricks in the book Complete Kitten Care.
Do your dogs howl? Lately, Magical-Dawg has begun howling more often. For northern breeds, dog howling comes very naturally, but for my aging German Shepherd, his howls are more unusual. Oh, he’s always howled when I sing certain notes (everyone’s a critic!), and the coyotes sing a chorus when the tornado sirens sound. This was different.
WHY DOGS HOWL
Magic began a low “ar-ooooo-woo-woo” and slowly cranked it up. This happened early in the morning, before we’d got up. My husband and I figured he needed out–he did–and didn’t pay that much attention to it. But then Magic also howled outside the bathroom door when my husband showered. He came into the room and howled during my shower, too.
This went on for three or four days, just prior to his yearly veterinary exam. We’d been a bit worried about some of Magic’s aging issues anyway (read about his check up in this post). And I now realize I never mentioned the howling to the vet.
But…once Magic was given medication for his achy 10-year-old arthritic issues, the howling stopped. Lesson learned–howling may be MORE than the “usual suspects,” which I cover in the short Ask Amy video, below. Enjoy!
Dogs bark and howl to communicate–so what’s he saying?
Do You Speak Dog?
Dogs know how to communicate. You gotta go “low tech” to really connect with doggy wags, growls, whines and more. Do your dogs howl? When do they howl–and why? Have you howled today? Try it–for a terrific stress relief (and you might get your canine’s singing along). Lately the tornado sirens have stirred up the canine chorus at my house.
It’s the back-to-school time of year, and that conjures up a mixed bag of memories. I loved being a student–yeah, I was a school nerd, and classes were pretty easy for me maybe cuz I took the “artsy” classes like writing, singing, and suchlike. I had mixed feelings about my parents being teachers, though. And lots of angst when for a short time I actually became a high school teacher. On Facebook my relationship with school would be “it’s complicated.”
Part of that is disappointment, I think. After study of music and acting I had every intention to take Broadway by storm. Ha! Then life happened. I met someone special, we fell in love, got married, and my “dream life” was no longer practical. That empty spot inside begged to be filled up with some kind of creativity. So I “made do” with writing. *snort*
[caption id=”” align=”aligncenter” width=”448″ caption=”My in-house editor, Seren, never holds back her opinion.”
Yep, I’m an accidental writer who actually made a career out of making do. I wonder how many of us end up with accidental careers?
The dreams we have early in life evolve as we grow and have obstacles and hard choices thrown in the path. Have you ever regretted a choice you made? Would you go back in time for a “do-over” if you had the chance? Are you satisfied with your life today? All those choices along the way–the doors opened or slammed shut, the “mistakes” that lead to other opportunities–for good or ill, they get us to this spot–HERE, NOW, where we are at this moment. A different choice 10 years ago, or even last week surely could lead to a different reality but who’s to say it would be better?
Today I head back over to the Denison High School–where I taught for that brief wonderful-awful-glorious-crazy period of time–for a rehearsal. I’ve been invited to perform in a fund-raiser “talent show” for the theater department this Saturday night. So what better choice than an original song from the new musical dramedy KURVES written with my co-author Frank Steele. Oh, it’s cast and will be presented in full in early February, stay tuned…
Wait a minute, what happened there? Yes, after all these years that drama-dream resurrected with a detour into accidental script/music writing. That’s some scary crappiocca, I gotta say! And guess what? The 8 characters angst over missed opportunities and whether to risk what they have for a do-over new chance at happiness.
Sort of gotz me a theme going, ya think?
A couple of decades ago I could have turned down that marriage proposal, headed to Noo Yawk and who knows what would have happened? I do know what would NOT have happened: 23 books, pet writing and behavior consults, teaching music, Seren-Kitty and Magical-Dawg, moving to Texas, meeting y’all–none of that would have happened.
So what about you? What do-over would you wish for? If you had a chance for a “do-over” would you take it?
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Be sure to get your requests in the comments. Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, listen to the weekly radio show, check out weekly PUPPY CARE must knows, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!
To become infected, a cat must live in an area that has infected dogs, and with mosquitoes that have a taste for both dog blood and cat blood. Wildlife also serves as a reservoir for the disease so coyotes and raccoons could put your pets at risk. Heck, the coyotes come up onto my back patio! Even though Magical-Dawg is negative for the disease and takes preventative, Seren-kitty could get heartworm from a single mosquito biting a coyote and nailing her before I could swat the sucker.
That’s right, I said it. A cat doesn’t have to go outside to be exposed. Exclusively indoor cats also get heartworm disease. They may even be more susceptible, yikes!
HOW CAT HEARTWORMS ARE TRANSMITTED
Mosquitoes ingest baby heartworms (microfilariae) when taking a blood meal from an already infected animal. The immature parasites spend about three weeks developing inside the mosquito and migrate to the mouthparts of the insect. When the mosquito again takes a blood meal, larvae are deposited upon the skin and gain entrance to the new host’s body through the bite wound left by the mosquito. Once inside the body, the immature heartworm undergoes many more molts and development stages.
CAT HEARTWORMS SYMPTOMS ARE H.A.R.D.
Outdoor cats exposed to mosquitoes increase risk of contracting heartworm disease–but even indoor kitties can get infected.
The larvae are carried by the blood through the heart to the cat’s pulmonary arteries which almost immediately become enlarged and inflamed. They usually die in cats in about 9 months (they can live 5 years in dogs!) and cause severe inflammatory respiratory problems when they die. This has been described as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD).
Feline airways become thickened, stiff, and inflamed. Cats with asthma symptoms—open-mouth breathing with blue gums—may in fact be suffering from heartworm disease. Frequent vomiting also can be a sign of feline heartworm disease. “The third unfortunate sign we see is the cat is fine this morning, and dead this afternoon,” says Dr. Graham.
CAT HEARTWORMS TESTS
Current tests don’t detect all feline heartworm cases. Antigen tests identify the presence of adult female worms. That means cats could have immature worms present, or an adult male, and appear to be safe. Antibody tests can detect very early infections by immature worms–fantastic for our dogs!–but half of all cats that have worms don’t have antibodies against them. Additional chest radiographs and echocardiograms may be needed when heartworm infection is suspected.
A single heartworm can kill the cat, and there’s no cure or treatment for feline heartworms. Instead, veterinarians suppress the inflammation in the lungs and make it easier to breathe using such drugs as prednisone, bronchodilators, and doxycycline. Infected cats usually are put on heartworm preventive so they don’t get any new worms that further complicate their care.
Preventing Feline Heartworms
While diagnosis is difficult and treatment virtually impossible, there are preventive products for cats. The American Heartworm Society provides guidelines and the latest research on its site. They recommend all cats should be on preventative, year round. Start kittens at 6 to 8 weeks of age–there are products that not only prevent heartworms but also control other parasites like fleas so you’re multi-tasking and keeping kitty safe. It costs pennies a day to protect my dog and cat, compared to the expense of treating an infection.
Losing Shadow-Pup or Karma-Kat to heartworms is not a price I’m willing to pay.
How about you? What sorts of preventatives to you give your fur-kids? Fleas and tick stuff? Heartworm prevention? Do you prefer the “natural” route or have suggestions how to get the cats to accept “what’s good for them?” There are liquid alternatives and spot ons for some of these preventions. What works best for your pets?
No, really–don’t let the sparkle-icity fool you. This lady am-stuck-in-a-rut. I can’t remember the last time my husband and I took a vacation together, other than to visit family. We have responsibilities. Two fur-kids that don’t do well left alone. Property that needs attention. And work deadlines that refuse to recognize the term “vacation.” The whole concept of R&R gives me an eye twitch when I think of all the work not yet done.
Am I beyond redemption?
Each year for the past dozen, my writers group makes a trek to the mountains of Colorado sometime during the heat of Texas summer. This year we’ve postponed that week-long outing until September. Because our various WORK schedules simply won’t allow us that leeway until later, if then.
The Colorado trek used to be a respite from work, a place to indulge in aspirational endeavors–that novel idea burning a hole in my brain, copper-foiling stained glass pieces, shopping for sparkles, drinking beverage, fine conversation until late in the night, wildlife visitation–deer, birds, squirrels, bear, raccoons, turkeys, hummers and more–and LAUGHTER. Lots of laughter, a few tears, and support without bounds. This was a place of few phone calls. That rare and MIRACULOUS call from editors or agents with neato-torpedo news was cause for more beverage and celebration.
This same core group of talented wannabe writers and authors transformed each other into established professionals. We are family, community, friends and sisters who champion each others success. Our local face-to-face meetings have become few and far between with some members moving away but staying connected via Internet and phone. Our annual Colorado trek renews us emotionally, physically and spiritually and has become that “golden carrot” that sustains us through the angst of day-to-day crappiocca.
It’s changed a bit since laptops and WIFI arrived. Leaving work behind takes extra effort. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be able to check email and stay connected to put out emergencies. But there’s only so much one can do from the mountaintop. That feeling of soul-soothing renewal comes so rarely and must last another 12 months, it hurts my heart and almost feels like blasphemy to interrupt with such things as . . .
Maybe this year I’ll turn off the WIFI.
Do you have a “golden carrot” place, real or virtual? How do you reward your hard work and diffuse the normal crappiocca? Here at home in hotter-than-hell Texas, I spend one-on-one time with the fur-kids, read my Kindle, play my cello, write music. What are your leisure joys? How do you feed your soul?
I missed posting Tuesday Tips, the next in the Kindle-ization series, and I’m HISSED OFF! You see, I have most all of that series done, and ready to go. They’re all on my laptop.
The laptop that DIED this week. Thpbpbpbpbpbpb! (that’s a virtual raspberry)
Actually, we suspect the battery ran dry–and it won’t run on just the plug. I’ve ordered a new battery, and hope for the best–but prepare for the worst. I guess the old laptop served well–letters on the keyboard had worn off and a couple of books were written on it including all the updates to the newly Kindle-ized titles. Come to think of it, that’s where I kept the final versions of the updated manuscripts.
I’m the person who always arrives early for meetings and circles the block until it’s not embarrassing to show up. With few exceptions, I meet or beat deadlines. And I angst and grow gray hairs and sprout crow’s feet lines when I can’t cross off each item as finished. These days, though, with 5-10 blogs a week plus two weekly columns and the puppies.About.com stuff–oh, and a co-written musical play to produce, fiction WIP, acting gigs– keeping all the eggs in the air without scrambling them on impact takes a toll.
So my blog schedule and backing up files fell to the bottom of the to-do list. Often I can get a few done early on weekends, but–well, over Memorial Day I actually shut off work and played with the Magical-Dawg and Seren-kitty! So I planned to post Tuesday’s blog on Tuesday morning (instead of days or at least the night before). Fortunately I had edited and uploaded the Ask Amy youtube videos for this week so yesterday’s Woof Wednesday and tomorrow’s Feline Friday are ready.
Just a week or so ago, one of my colleagues lamented the crash of her entire computer and loss of files. That was a wake-up call. I nearly subscribed to an online backup service but was instead convinced by my tech-guy husband to use thumb drives. So nearly all of the work on the !@#$%^&! laptop had been saved just a few days ago–but not the Ebooks and not the blog notes and content.
I can re-created it but at the moment the pity-party-whine-fest is much more satisfying. Oh, I quick-like-a-bunny bought a new laptop with higher speed, larger storage, and updated software. And I’ll get a few more of those thumb-drives and put it on my schedule for backups with more religious fervor.
How do you procrastinate? Has it ever bitten you in the ass-ets? What are your top reasons to THPBPBPB? Don’t be shy–vent away. And bookmark this blog to remind you what crappiocca can happen to derail even A-type go-go-go plan-ahead people like you and me!
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!
The past two days I’ve been in purgatory–I won’t call it hell, because it’s the ABSENCE of something vital to my writing life. And I’ve learned (horrors!) that I’m an addict. . .
. . .of the Internet.
In the olden days (lawsie, sound like my Grandma used to!) words were typed and the smell of well-inked ribbon perfumed the room. Any piece of writer-icity fortunate enough to claim a home traveled via the U.S. Postal System–which meant a May 1st deadline required mail drop off at least a week in advance. Once Email emerged–and I’ll admit I arrived late at that party–writers not only saved on postage $, we gained something much more valuable. Extra time. Have a column due on May 1st? as long as you hit “send” before midnight on April 30, you’re golden.
And I’ve been burned several times by downloading emails infected with viruses or having a computer go belly up. So the past year or so all my email stays “online” in a virtual database I can access from any computer, anywhere. Even my email address book remains online, for ease of contact. Makes life simple.
Until the Internet goes ka-flooey. (That’s a technical writerly term, which loosely translated means !@#$%^&*O!@#$%^&!!)
Besides the inability to read or answer email and send articles, I couldn’t post blogs here, over at my RedRoom site, or update my spankin’ new puppies.About.com site, spread the furry news via Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Particularly annoying, I could get Email via my Blackberry but couldn’t do more than answer a word or two without thumbs being sabotagued by the auto-correct feature. Arg!
So are you (gasp!) addicted to the Internet? How do you handle outages? I ended up working with my co-author on another project that didn’t require online access. And I suppose tomorrow I’ll do more of the same since the forecasts call for more crappiocca weather.
I’ve always thought technology offered countless benefits. What about you? Do we depend on the “un-wired” world too much? What do you do when your working life goes ka-flooey? Play hookey?
I would love to play hookey sometime. But my boss is a real bitch.
I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions–and to stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, listen to the weekly radio show, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter with pet book give-aways!