Rescue Journal

medical care for seniors

Carol  ·  Jul. 31, 2009

geriatric and palliative care for senior animals is at the difficult place now...we are figuring out that they need more than just food, water. a nice family to live with and an occasional asprin but with the technology available how far do we actually go in caring responsibly for them?

when i was talking to corry from the spca she was telling me what she wanted to say in her article..that seniors make great companions, and can still live active lives for many years, they are already settled and housetrained...what you see is what you get.

and this is all true IF you are talking about 8 or 9 yr old seniors...but at saints we have very few of those kind of seniors...we have the 12, 14, 16 and 18 yr old kind of seniors and they do come with arthritis, incontinence, dental and cardiac disease.

if you look at max, you see a great and happy and sweet, very active took the xrays to see that his spine is toast and his heart is enlarged. some metacam, maybe eventually some tramadol...maybe a series of cartrophen injections? (i will talk to the vet about that on saturday), a couple of different cardiac meds and max continues acting like a happy and active old dog. the spca saved us a nice chunk of money doing those diagnostics on him. they gave us a very old dog with alot of diagnosed health issues that we knew we could easily help him with.

dogs become incontinent for a few different reasons..infection, joint or spinal disease. pain, infection and inflamation are the first things to look at when a dog loses control of their bladder or bowels. you can medically reduce pain, infection and inflamation with a good and responsible medication regime. you still have to pay for the diagnostics but a thorough exam and history taking, bloodwork, urinalysis and xrays do not cost as much as a vacation...a few hundred dollars put out and a well thought out plan to carry forward with.

it is not rocket science and it does not take MRI's, CT scans, ultrasounds, and just takes a bit of cash, some common sense about aging, and a responsible and decent vet.

the issues with our animals is...they never had responsible vet care to begin with. these guys mostly (not all) came from homes where their health and wellness was never given alot of thought. their families either did not know or care that their animal's health was something that was supposed to become a priority.

the world is changing...and not just for the good either. part of the issue is even "good" families are not prepared to spend thousands of dollars or alot of effort on an old and falling apart dog... their lives are busy and stressful, their cash flow is tied up in interest on credit cards and loans, thier vet is recommending a bunch of necessary AND high end diagnostics that they simply do not have the money for.

they have not been long term responsible and regular and loyal customers at their clinics so credit and payments are not an option either. if they then decide to unload the dog, they take it to the nearest shelter which is now faced with this nice but old and medically messed up dog or cat that no one in their right mind wants to adopt.

dead dog, dead cat...unless they call rescue and rescue has the resouces and room.

most of these families won't change because they really are not great homes to begin with...but some are just functioning thru ignorance and not knowing and with education they might change. education is the key in animal welfare to improving the care of all domestic animals...companion and farm.

we have to raise the standard of what society as a whole expects to be considered responsible and humane care.

but how do we get there when every moment of every day is spent in caring for the victims of our ignorance? when every dollar raised goes right back into fixing up what was invisible because we never thought we were supposed to know?

i envisioned a sanctuary whose primary focus is to value animals...up close and personal...see them, feel them, touch them, KNOW them and what they deserve. learn what it takes to care for them, learn what we owe them in return for what we take from them. to see with our veruy own eyes that old does not mean dead, it can mean feeling well and acting like a moronic puppy.

now i know we need to go further...we do the caring part, we do provide the access to meet them...but not everyone comes here, we need to push out into the community to bring that knowledge out there.

so much to do...keep saints running well, start a new farm sanctuary, figure out an educational program and plan an effective delivery system....

god should have made 10 of me and at least one of me disgustingly rich!

what i could do with paris hilton's money! (she can keep her body and lifestyle, it wouldn't work too well for me)

i am thinking of a new reality tv show...SAINTS RICH BFF...dontcha think that would be fun and interesting?



We have to acknowledge that some people just can't afford vetinary services and that some vets add to the problem. I know there are many wonderful vets who see their profession as health care not all of them.
An interesting show to watch is:


you are right willie...when people are hit in an economic crises...something has to give. i am not really talking about the folks who did well by their pets til their world fell apart..i do have empathy for this.
i am mostly talking about the ones who choose where they spend their, new cars, an xbox for the kids while the dogs teeth abcess and rot.

and i am talking about balancing vet is ok to pass on the "nice to have" MRI's as long as the basics necessary are covered...and that is the vets give folks reasonable options for diagnostics and treatments to meet the animals needs.

we only survive here because i negotiate treatment and diagnostic options with the vets..i am able to do this because i have the education and knowledge behind me to understand exactly what i am negotiating and what it means.

i think this knowledge can be shared, thru the vets themselves and thru someone like me...not everyone has to be a nurse or in the medical field to understand the difference between "a have to know and do" and a "nice to know and do".
there are options available medically in treatments available to accomplish what the animal needs...but only if people know they are there or what to reasonably negotiate.

Willie C.

I have lived in a big city on a busy street for thirty years. A lot of kitties have appeared on my front porch skinny and hungry in those thirty years. I soon learned that if I didn't take them in, they were often hit by a car. At the county shelter they had about three days - I couldn't do that. So, I have adopted a lot of kitties. I gave them their shots and had them neutered, gave them vet care, good food and a safe place. I think I'm a responsible pet owner. My 18 year old cat just passed away from kidney failure. I gave him every kind of cat, dog or people food he was interested in and fluids twice daily. I have an 18 year old Sheltie dog. He is deaf and almost blind and has had a stroke. I carry him outside and back in, I puree his food and give him his meds. Another one of my cats has been very ill with Pancreatitis. My vet said there is very little I can do for her except try to find things for her to eat that don't make her throw up. I LOVE my pets and I have done my best.

But things happen. For thirty-one years I've worked for a major bank (technical writer/developer/tester). Everyday they are contracting more of our jobs to India. I am afraid I'm going to soon loose my job and my home. (A few years ago, my husband was electocuted and suffered severe injuries but survived for eight years before passing away. . .unfortunately, that took our savings.)

Our shelters are begging people to take animals, a lot of good people do. They don't want to see an animal suffer or die in a shelter. They love their pets and do give them the best home they can. But, when something happens to their animal that costs a lot of money to treat, they just don't have it. Should those animals have been left in the shelter to be put to sleep - not given the love and companionship of the good years? I know there are a ton of irresponsible, selfish pet owners and I can't stand them. But there are other people who do the best they can but just don't have enough money. They give as much as they can because they truely love their pets and then they desperately try to find help. Please don't judge those people as harshly. . .it may be me tomorrow!


With our aging old man we spent a ton of money..not only on meds but special food, treatments, X Rays, all sorts of diagnostic work, at the end of the day we never even thought about it but the operative word being but we could afford it kids, both working etc. Some times tho we would add up the bills for just the one dog for a month and it would stun I do appreciate that for many it is a worry. They need to think of this at the time of adopting or purchasing their companion...

After he was gone it was strange to think that we were not running to the vet all the time, purchasing wildly expensive special food and not always worrying about the next step and next drug. We actually had cash at the end of the month...ha ha..what you do is incredible and blows my mind at the costs you must run up each and every day.

At least we laugh now the rare times we go to our vets and we tell folks in the waiting room that we built the place..even the gals behind the counter say yes these folks have an interest in the building as they have contributed alot to it maintenance. What can you do... it is a responsibility and I am proud to say most of my friends and family all have taken that vow when taking on a companion very seriously and have done the best for their friends when they have become elderly..

Barbara DeMott

Sorry, Carol, I disagree.
I think there are a lot of people who love their animals, give them a great home and acceptable vet care through their lives, and are not idiots with credit cards. The fact of the matter is that the vet fees are just too high for an average family. More even then they would spend on themselves. Often, the MRI, Cat scan and high end chemotherapy are not even available to the owners at any price for the humans in the family much less the animals ( and mind you there are lots of people who don't make that distinction).
Medical care of any kind including that for animals is out of reach for a lot of people....