Senior Animal Potty Problems

By Dr. Beth Scheenstra, DVM

When a senior pet is having bathroom problems, it’s best to get a solid diagnosis from your pet’s veterinarian, which can be complicated. Then you have to learn how to live with the results.

Some things to think about before your veterinary appointments are: does your pet know what they are doing? Or is this true incontinence.  Is the pet physically healthy but just poops in the house because they have cognitive symptoms?

Other symptoms that are critical with a senior pet that should be investigated and you should take seriously are: weight loss, lack of appetite, diarrhea or abnormal stool, water intake, muscle wasting and/or neurologic impairment, and mental state changes. 

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Petey

By Dr Beth Scheenstra, DVM

I was finishing up a long weekend on call.  I was in my first 6 months of being a veterinarian which meant every day was like a year of worrying, questioning and working hard.  It was January in western Washington, picture dark gray and continued period of darkness with mist.  He was my first appointment of the day, though I had just worked all night so time seemed to not exist.  

He was the one of the ugliest patient I had ever seen.  He was hypothermic, unable to raise his head up and about half the weight he should be.  They told me to put him down.  They couldn’t afford any care for him, he was probably about two years old and has had horrible diarrhea for the last week.  I could tell that he had probably spent at least the last day laying in his diarrhea.  

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Are You a Xylitol-Free Home?

By Dr Beth Scheenstra, DVM

With as many questions as I receive about chocolate, I am shocked I don’t get more questions about Xylitol.   I just recently made our home Xylitol free.  After treating a small patient who had consumed simply a few pieces of sugar free gum, I felt the risk is too great to have the product in our house.

 This sugar substitute is more common than you realize, and is in countless products.  Xylitol causes unpredictable extreme hypoglycemia in a pets, and in large doses hepatic (liver) necrosis and death.    As little as piece of gum can be very toxic and even deadly to a 10 lb dog.    

If your pet consumes any amount of Xylitol it is best to contact a veterinarian right away.  

Why Be a Veterinarian?

By Dr. Beth Scheenstra, DVM

As a veterinarian, you typically do your a fair share of helping with local school projects. Either it’s letters from children or visits to classrooms or fair participation.  Lots of children want to become veterinarians, so it seems only fair to explain why and how I became a veterinarian.  

I am what people in the industry call a “lifer”.  I knew what I wanted to be from the time I could think, maybe from the womb. Basically I knew all my life I was going to be a veterinarian. Some people might say it is a calling (a strong urge to follow a career often accompanied by a divine devotion). I only know that from a very small child I wanted to be with animals as much as possible. I had the typical childhood thoughts of being random things but, they never lasted more than a month.  Animals are drawn to me, and I am drawn to them.  I am most at peace when I am looking into an animals eyes.

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What NOT to give your pet for Christmas

By Dr. Beth Scheenstra, DVM

1)  Fancy strange treats.

Nothing will lead to a trip to the veterinarian faster than feeding your pet a bunch of fancy treats during the holidays.  Imagine if you typically ate the same food(s) for weeks at a time, and then you were given a 8 course French dinner for several days in a row.  Ingredients that your intestines have never seen in a big quantity, chances are it would taste great but later this meal probably would lead to you needing to use the restroom frequently.  Sometimes this can lead to pancreatitis, and even hospitalization for your pet.  Rawhides, and various chew treats can cause intestinal obstruction in those that don’t chew them properly and instead swallow them whole.

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