Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM

Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM

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Dr. Celeste Clements graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine in 1989, and then spent a year of internship at the Animal Medical Center in New York. After two years of general practice she entered into a clinical residency in small-animal internal medicine at Texas A&M University, which concluded with board certification in 1995. She practiced for five years in referral centers in Maryland and Texas, and then was employed by a veterinary pharmacy. She joined Laboratories, Inc. as an internal medicine consultant in 2007, and now serves as a medical content specialist and Our Site contributor. Her professional interests include renal disease, hematology, immunology, and infectious disease.

Celeste lives near Annapolis, Maryland with her husband Mike, daughter Carolina, and a goofy hound dog named Bella who lives to chase squirrels. The local dog park is their new favorite destination.

Behavior Problems in Senior Pets.

As with people, it’s not unusual for older pets to develop behavioral problems. While it’s easy to blame these behavior changes on age alone, they can also indicate underlying medical problems. Make sure your elder pet visits her veterinarian as recommended, and that you call the veterinarian to discuss any noticeable changes in her behavior! These can be key indicators of underlying medical issues that should be addressed.

Causes of Behavior Changes in Senior Pets
Behavior problems can result from changes in your pet’s routine, illness, disease, senility, or cognitive dysfunction. Any change in lifestyle for a pet can be stressful, regardless of age, and as your pet gets older, she is less equipped to adapt to changes in her environment. Sometimes, simple life changes such as the introduction of a baby to the house, a new family member, or theabsence of an individual can drive behavior change.

Medical and degenerative problems can also cause a behavior change in your pet, since changes within the major organ systems can influence behavior in many ways. Diabetes, liver disease, kidney disease, and endocrine disorders all influence your pet’s behavior and personality. As your pet ages, her hearing and sight are affected. Often, this influences their ability to react, sometimes causing him to become fearful. Additionally, pets, like people, can become arthritic, which causes discomfort and can lead to irritability and a change in attitude.

Your pet’s brain is also susceptible to age-related changes. Degenerative processes in the brain can impact your pet’s personality, memory, behavior and even her ability to learn. Your pet may show varying degrees of cognitive function, from minor changes to significant senility.

Symptoms to Watch for in Your Senior Pet
Remember, sometimes small changes in behavior can be an early indicator that your friend is in pain, is ill, or has a degenerative disease. These subtle signs should be reported to your veterinarian right away!

In addition, keep an eye out for the following symptoms, which could be an indication that something is not right for your pet:

  • Increased drinking/urination
  • Loss of bladder control (dribbling urine or bedwetting)
  • Changes in bowel movements or frequent digestive upsets
  • Change in appetite
  • Dry or itchy skin
  • Sores, lumps, or shaking of the head
  • Bad breath or drooling
  • Dry, red, or cloudy eyes
  • Coughing, excessive panting, or labored breathing
  • Lack of enthusiasm for normal activities
  • Stiffness or soreness
  • Changes in weight
  • Disorientation
  • Tremors or shaking

Determining the Cause of Your Pet’s Behavioral Changes
If your pet is showing signs of age-related behavioral changes, your veterinarian will take a complete history of her behavior and thoroughly examine her. In addition, your

veterinarian may recommend the following tests to rule out organ disease and other age-related conditions that could be the cause of the behavioral change.

  • Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
  • Blood tests to identify if your pet has been exposed to vector-borne or other infectious diseases
  • A complete blood count (CBC) to rule out blood-related conditions
  • Electrolyte tests to ensure your pet isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
  • Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infections and other diseases, and to evaluate the kidney’s ability to concentrate urine
  • A thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too little (in the case of dogs) or too much (in the case of cats) thyroid hormone
  • An ECG to screen for an abnormal heart rhythm, which may indicate underlying heart disease or other blood tests for heart health such as Cardiopet proBNP.

Preventing Behavioral Problems in Your Aging Pet
Many behavioral issues our older friends have can be resolved or controlled. Vigilant attention and early detection, as well as other treatments including medication, supplements, and diets, can help treat or greatly slow the progression of many disease conditions and help our furry friends live longer and happier lives.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian – they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM - pets

A new veterinary neurologist has joined Animal Emergency and Special Center’s neurology team. Chelsie Estey, MSc, DVM, DACVIM (Neurology) started at AESC in Parker, Colorado in February.

Dr. Estey received her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree at the Atlantic Veterinary College and completed a small animal rotating internship at Georgia Veterinary Specialists. After her internship, Dr. Estey completed a neurology and neurosurgery residency at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals. Dr. Estey is a board-certified neurologist who practiced for several years in upstate New York prior to joining the team at AESC.

AESC is excited to have Dr. Estey as part of their team. Her clinical interests include seizures and congenital, infectious, and inflammatory brain diseases.

Dr. Estey will join Dr. Curtis Probst, DVM, DACVS, DACVIM (Neurology) on the neurology team. AESC’s neurology department is able to diagnose neurological disorders with an on-site 1.5 Tesla MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) machine, CT scan, and radiography.

AESC’s neurologists routinely treat seizures, brain, and spinal cord tumors, encephalitis, intervertebral disc disease, head trauma, neuromuscular disease and disorders of the vestibular system, among many other conditions.

With advanced equipment, surgical procedures, and treatment options at their fingertips, the neurology team at AESC has been able to help many animals with a variety of neurological conditions.

If your pet is in need of neurological care, contact AESC at 720-842-5050 to set up an appointment with one of their experienced neurologists. AESC also offers a wide variety of services, including 24/7 emergency and critical care for animals in the event of a veterinary emergency. The ER is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year and provides compassionate veterinary care to animals in need, no matter what time it is.

Your Cat Sleeping in the Litter Box Could Be the Sign of a Serious Problem

November 15, 2017 at 9:30am AM EST

Cats display all kinds of unusual behavior that to the new cat owner might seem confusing or even worrisome. One of these classic but weird behaviors is sleeping in the litter box.

Sleeping in your own toilet is pretty disgusting — and considering cats are so obsessed with keeping clean, it’s super-confusing they would choose the litter box as a place to take a nap.

Our own precious cats would never dream of such grossness, until, that is, we uprooted them from their home. Yup, we tried to make switching to a new apartment as stress-free as possible, but moving sent our cat Bill straight for the litter box. And he didn’t even have to pee.

This litter box hiding lasted for days. At first, he wouldn’t even come out to eat — we had to leave food next to the box, and he’d take a few bites while he was still sitting inside it. However, after a few days and a lot of attention, he started venturing out into his new space.

The stress factor

According to our vet at Prospect Animal Hospital, sleeping and hiding in the litter box is a common reaction in cats to any overly stressful situation. While it may seem gross to the pet owner, a cat’s litter box may feel like the only safe haven in new surroundings because it smells like it does. According to Susan Paretts of The Nest, “cats actually mark their territory with their urine and its scent can sometimes be comforting to an anxious cat.”

Cats also hide in litter boxes for the same reason they hide in cardboard boxes — the smaller, enclosed space feels like added protection. Mychelle Blake, MSW, CDBC and expert for the Pet Health Network, told SheKnows, “This is why if you visit an animal shelter, you will often see cats in their kennels lying in their litter boxes.”

If you’ve recently adopted another pet (especially a cat), your cat may sleep in its litter box as an act of claiming it. Cats are very territorial, and if another animal threatens their space, they’ll act out in order to assert dominance.

Remedy: If your cat’s feeling threatened by another animal, make sure there are as many litter boxes around as there are felines. If you have a dog, make sure the litter box is out of the way, so the cat doesn’t feel like it has to sneak by the dog every time it wants to use it. You can also use pheromone sprays and diffusers around the litter boxes to alleviate stress.

Urinary problem

Sleeping in the litter box can also be the sign of something more serious, so you want to be sure and monitor your cat closely if it suddenly starts doing it. Dr. Celeste Clements, DVM, DACVIM, told SheKnows, “If the cat’s behavior is unusual or changed in other ways, including lack of appetite or thirst, or possibly increased thirst, or if you note a change in the pet’s social interactions, or that he or she is sleeping more, or seeming to have difficulty moving about when removed from the box, then a more serious condition or illness might be present.”

This could be indicative of any number of illnesses, not just ones having to do with elimination. However, if you notice your cat (particularly if it’s male) sitting or squatting in its litter box for long periods of time, scratching at the litter but producing no urine, it may have a lower urinary tract disease. According to Animal Planet, male cats can develop crystals in their urine that if left untreated, could block their ability to pass urine completely. Full blockage like this could be fatal in only 48 hours, so if you notice your cat straining to urinate more than once, take it to the vet immediately.

That being said, you shouldn’t jump to the worst case scenario if your cat suddenly starts sleeping in its littler box. Just keep a close eye on it and if other unusual behaviors, like the ones listed above, start to develop, you should definitely give your vet a call.

Originally published October 2015. Updated November 2017.

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