Posted: 05/05/2022
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As our pets age, they often face the same health issues we do. They may develop arthritis, diabetes, heart disease and more. Sometimes our beloved pet may even go blind. While this can be a very sad diagnosis, it is certainly not a death sentence. The reality is that dogs and cats can live very happy, enjoyable lives without sight. Yes, things will be different moving forward, and you’ll both need to learn the “new normal.” But in time, you and your pet will create new memories together. Signs Your Dog or Cat May be Losing Their Vision If your pet’s vision has started to decline, you may notice the following: Cloudiness in the eye or red blood vessels Difficulty finding toys and treats They are easily startled Increased clumsiness Lower energy levels A lack of enthusiasm If you notice any of these signs, you’ll want to speak to your veterinarian. He or she will most likely refer you to a veterinary ophthalmologist. Vision loss is typically due to conditions such as glaucoma or cataracts. These conditions can sometimes be slowed or even repaired through treatment or surgery. A treatment plan will be determined based on the exact diagnosis and your pet’s age and overall health. Sometimes older pets are not good candidates for surgeries. Should your pet’s vision loss not be reversible for any reason, they can still live out the rest of their days with enjoyment with a little bit of assistance from you. 10 Tips for Caring for Blind Pets The following tips will help you help your furball live a happy life: 1. Make Their Environment Safe It’s a good idea to establish a dedicated safe zone for your pet. This could be a spare bedroom or a corner of your living room. Make sure it’s cozy and uncluttered so they won’t bump into anything. 2. Talk to Your Pet More Often Our dogs and cats are often our most trusted confidants. But now more than ever it’s important to speak to your dog or cat. The sound of your voice will soothe them and also help them determine where you are, and therefor where they are in the space. It’s also important that you start getting into the habit of gently speaking to your dog or cat before touching them so you don’t startle them. 3. Help Them Navigate the House Try to create what some call “location cues” for your dog or cat. For instance, you may want to lay down carpet runners around well-traveled parts of your home. This way your pet can follow the runner and navigate their way through the house. 4. Keep Your Routines Consistent This is important for both dogs and cats, but particularly dogs. You can and absolutely should continue to take your dog on a walk, as daily exercise is great for his overall health and well-being. Just be sure to go the same route everyday so he can memorize it in his new state. Take him to the same parks as well. It’s also important to keep your pet’s food and water bowl in a consistent location. You most likely did before the vision loss set in, so continue to place these bowls in the same place. 5. Blind-Proof Your Home You may think your house is “safe enough,” but it’s really not until you actively “blind-proof” your home. This will require you to get down on all fours and look for potential hazards from your dog or cat’s point of view. Is there something dangerous they could bump into? Something they could fall from? Trip over? It’s a good idea to put corner protectors on sharp furniture and always have baby gates blocking stairs. 6. Try a Blind Pet Halo There are a few companies out there that manufacture what are called “halos” for blind pets. The halo surrounds your dog or cat’s face and it bumps into things before your precious pet’s face does. They won’t have to wear this item forever, but it’s a great way to keep them safe while they learn how to navigate their new world. 7. Let Others Know Your Pet is Blind When people come over to your house, make sure you tell them your dog or cat is blind. Instruct them to never walk up and touch your dog or cat without first speaking to them. This is particularly important when walking your dog. You never want strangers to approach and start petting your dog without an introduction. 8. Get a New Tag Made Be sure to have a tag made and place it on your pet’s collar that clearly states they are blind. Should they ever get out of the house and become lost, whoever finds them will know they are blind. 9. Leave the TV or Radio On Even dogs and cats who aren’t blind enjoy ambient noise in the house when their humans have left. This helps them not feel so lonely. It’s a really good idea when your pet has suffered vision loss because the TV or radio acts as a location cue and helps them orient themselves. 10. Do Not Change Your Floor Plan Once your pup or kitty has gotten the lay of the land, it’s best not to move furniture around. Just do your best to keep things as they are. This will save you and your pet from having to relearn the floor plan all over again. While it’s never nice to hear that your beloved dog or cat is going blind, understand that they can still enjoy the rest of their life with you. If you follow these tips, your pet will have a wonderful quality of life. Something Lost – Something Gained When your pet is losing their vision, it can often mean many trips to the vet and even to a specialist such as a veterinary ophthalmologist. He or she may need to do multiple tests to be able to properly diagnose your dog or cat. This, along with follow-up visits and an ongoing treatment plan, can become quite costly. A pet insurance plan can help you give your beloved pet the care they need while also protecting your wallet. Depending on the plan and the provider, you may be able to receive reimbursements for up to 90% of the bill. Pet Insurance Review has a mission to help pet owners ensure their pet gets the quality care they need. We find the absolute best pet health insurance policies on the market today, so you can easily afford to give your fur baby the best treatment. Get a free quote today. Your pet may have lost their vision, but you can gain peace of mind with a quality pet health insurance plan. References Gibeault, S. MSc, CPDT. (2021) Dog Vision Loss: Signs, Symptoms, and Management Retrieved from: https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/vision-loss-dogs-symptoms-management/ Memphis Veterinary Specialists Retrieved from: https://www.memphisveterinaryspecialists.com/site/blog-cordova/2020/07/10/what-to-expect-cataract-surgery-for-dogs Mueller, L. (2021). Should You Get a Blind Dog Halo? Retrieved from: https://www.thesprucepets.com/should-you-get-a-blind-dog-halo-5115829  

Posted: 04/28/2022
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When most people think of dogs, they think of fur balls that are happy and goofy. But dogs are like people in that they can experience many different emotions. Dogs can sometimes experience stress and anxiety, and their vet may prescribe Trazodone to help alleviate these emotions. When are times that a dog may experience stress and/or anxiety? During vet visits During fireworks and thunderstorms On car rides When they are left home alone After a major surgery A recent study published in the Journal of American Veterinary Medicine Association found that Trazodone can be a very helpful sedative during recovery after a major surgery. Many dogs feel stressed and anxious because of the strict confinement after surgery, but Trazodone can calm and relax them. If your dog has just had major surgery and is having trouble with confinement, you may want to speak to your vet about Trazodone. What is Trazodone and How Does it Work? Trazodone is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) that has an extensive history of treating people with depression and anxiety. In the last decade, Trazodone has also been used to help dogs and cats with their anxiety. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for making people, and dogs, feel good. Trazodone basically helps the synapses in the brain hold onto serotonin for a longer period of time. When your dog is given Trazodone, the medication helps balance the amount of serotonin in his brain, relieving anxiety and keeping him calm. How is Trazodone Given to Dogs? Trazodone is given orally (by mouth) in pill form. You can give Trazodone to your dog either with food or on an empty stomach. It should be noted that there are instances where Trazodone may irritate an empty stomach, causing your dog to vomit or act sick. If this happens with your dog, try giving them their next dose with a little bit of food. Trazodone is most commonly used short term for stressful or anxiety-inducing situations. When given on a short-term basis, the medication will take effect in about 1 to 2 hours. When given for long-term treatment for a behavioral issue, full effects may not be noticed for a few weeks. Trazodone Side Effects in Dogs Trazodone is considered a short-acting drug, with effects lasting no longer than 24 hours. Side effects in dogs are not well documented at this time. Those that have been documented are mild in nature. Possible side effects include: Sedation Lethargy Vomiting Dilated pupils Colitis (inflammation of the colon) Priapism (persistent and painful erection of the penis) Ataxia (loss of muscle control) Increased anxiety Increased appetite Arrythmias Aggression Should Trazodone be used in conjunction with other serotonergic drugs, a condition called serotonin syndrome may develop. This condition includes side effects such as vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, blindness, hyperthermia (elevated body temperature), dilation of pupils, disorientation, coma, loss of control of movements, sensitivity of the skin, depression, vocalization, excessive salivation, difficulty breathing, paralysis, and death. Possible Drug Interactions The following list of drugs should be used with extreme caution when given along with Trazodone: Antihypertensive Drugs Aspirin Azole Antifungals Cisapride Cns Depressants Digoxin Diuretics Fluoroquinolones Macrolide Antibiotics Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors Metoclopramide NSAIDs Ondansetron Phenothiazines SSRI Antidepressants Tramadol If your dog is currently taking any other medications, including vitamins, herbal therapies and other natural supplements, be sure to tell your veterinarian. What if I Miss a Dose of Trazodone (or the Shipment is Late)? If your dog is on Trazodone for the long-term and you accidentally miss a dose, give the dose when you remember. Having said this, if you remember very late and his or her next dose will be given within a few hours, then skip the dose you missed and just wait for the next scheduled one. You never want to give your dog two doses at the same time or two doses too close together. If you’re unsure of timing call your vet for advice. If they are closed, call your local ER clinic and speak with a vet there. It is always better to err on the side of caution with these medications. Which Dogs Should Not Take Trazodone? Dogs with underlying kidney or liver issues should not take Trazodone. The liver and kidneys are two organs responsible for breaking down and excreting this medication from your dog’s body. If your dog’s liver and/or kidneys are not functioning properly, there can be a build-up of the medication in their body, causing an overdose effect. Trazodone should also not be given to dogs who react with hypersensitivity or to those using MAO inhibitors. Dogs with angle-closure glaucoma should not be prescribed this medication. Animal studies have also found that Trazodone at high doses has adverse effects on developing fetuses, so speak with your vet if your dog is pregnant. Giving Your Dog the Relief They Need In many instances, giving your dog Trazodone can be very beneficial if they suffer from anxiety or other behavioral issues. But be sure you speak with your vet to ensure they know of any other medications or supplements your dog may be on, or if they are experiencing any symptoms that may indicate they have an underlying health issue such as liver or kidney disease. Are High Vet Bills Causing You Anxiety? When our dog is experiencing anxiety, we want to do everything we can to make sure they get the relief they need. But sometimes taking our dog to the vet doesn’t just cause them anxiety – the bill can also cause us to feel uneasy. Those bills can add up fast, especially when you factor in multiple monthly visits and necessary medications! A pet health insurance plan can help, allowing you to ensure your dog gets the treatment they need. Depending on the plan and the provider, you may receive reimbursements of up to 90% of the bill. Pet Insurance Review was created to help pet owners get the help they need so they can get the medical help their dog or cat needs. We are constantly searching for the absolute best pet health insurance policies on the market today. Get a free quote today so neither you or your dog are left suffering from anxiety. References: Gruen, M. E., Roe, S. C., Griffith, E., Hamilton, A., & Sherman, B. L. (2014). Use of trazodone to facilitate postsurgical confinement in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 245(3), 296–301. https://doi.org/10.2460/javma.245.3.296 Chu A, Wadhwa R. Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. [Updated 2022 Jan 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK554406/ Volpi-Abadie, J., Kaye, A. M., & Kaye, A. D. (2013). Serotonin syndrome. The Ochsner journal, 13(4), 533–540.