Pain and Dental Disease-October 2017

October is Dental Month at Elkwood Animal Hospital!

10% off all dental cleanings, extractions, and medications for dental procedures!

Dental Disease is Extremely Painful:

The most stunning part of most dental procedures is how middle age to older animals act after them. Owners often comment that their pet is “acting like a puppy again” after a dental procedure at our hospital. What most people don’t understand is that dental disease is very painful for animals.

Our pets do a great job of hiding their pain. They cannot tell us with words. So, sometimes they will act grumpy or react when you touch around their mouth, but most of the time, those are the only signs of dental disease that owners will see. This is because animals in the wild are conditioned to hide their pain to survive. There is no doubt however that pets with dental disease suffer.

Most owners believe that their pet acting grumpy as he or she gets older is due to old age. Most of the time, it is due to the pet feeling painful. Pets with dental disease experience pain while eating, drinking, playing, and even at rest. Infection in the mouth causes some of the bodies most sensitive nerve endings to be constantly stimulated. Pets can get headaches from this constant stimulation. Infection is a powerful force in the body. It can spread from the teeth to the jaw and cause the bones in the jaw to disintegrate along with the tooth roots. This will cause permanent damage to the jaw bones making it impossible for the jaw to function properly.

Animals three years old and older need a dental exam once a year. Our goal is to stop the infection before the headaches and destruction of the mouth take place. Once calculus (hardened plaque) has formed on the teeth, it is time for a dental cleaning. By removing this hardened tartar, we take away the bacteria’s hiding place. The bacteria likes to live under this hard shell on the teeth and infect the gum along the gum line. That is the beginning of dental disease. Doing dental cleanings at this stage is very helpful for your pet because they do not have to experience the pain that comes with the infections of the teeth. Please be proactive about this disease. Your pet relies completely on you for his or her health. If you take care of your pets teeth, you will have a happier, healthier pet for many years to come.

Overweight Pets- An Epidemic

An Epidemic! Overweight Pets:

 

53% of dogs in the US are overweight with 5% being classified as obese.

55% of cats in the US are overweight.


How to tell if your pet is overweight.

  • Feel over the ribs and spine. If you can easily feel the ribs and spine but cannot see them, your pet is the perfect weight. If you have to dig to feel them, your pet is overweight.
  • Look at their “abdominal tuck”. This is where their abdomen meets their back legs. Does the abdomen look “empty” or is it rounded and hanging down. Ideally, the abdomen does not look empty, but also, does not hang. It simply tucks up into the back legs.
  • Other areas that animals store fat is along their neck and over their tail head. Check these areas as well.

How to weigh your dog or cat.

  • Using a baby scale for small dogs and cats is best. Typically, their weights are much lower than our weights. So, if the scale is a half a pound off that is significant in relation to these little ones total weight.
  • For larger dogs (20# and above), weigh yourself then weigh yourself holding your dog.
  • Use your veterinary clinic’s scale! 🙂 Most veterinary clinics do not mind if you call ahead and ask to use their scale.

Why is my pet so overweight?

  • Some breeds are prone to being overweight. Beagles, labs, rottweilers, and golden retrievers are only a couple of these breeds. These dogs require a strict diet to maintain a healthy weight.
  • People food. Those adorable begging eyes from our beloved pets are hard to resist! But you must! Human foods tend to be more calorie and fat dense than dog foods. Giving your pet a bite of your hamburger or french fries is the equivalent to giving yourself an ice cream sundae or Hershey bar. If they get too much, they will become overweight quickly.
  • Lack of portion control. Leaving your pet’s bowl full of food or overfeeding, will result in your pet becoming overweight. Most bags of food have portions to feed based on weight on the back of the bag. Find out from your veterinarian what your pet’s weight should be and feed ⅔-¾ of the amount the bag tells you to feed for that weight (more on this later).
  • Endocrine disease. There are several diseases: hypothyroidism and Cushing’s, to name a few, that will result in your pet being unable to lose weight. If you are concerned, have your veterinarian run blood work as soon as possible.

 

How do I get my pet to lose weight?

  • Keep track of their weight. Weigh them. then begin your weight loss program. Weigh once a month to see if they are losing. The goal is to get them to lose 1-2% of their total body weight per month.
  • Portion control. This applies to treats and food. Treats should be less than 10% of the total calories in the diet. Also, feeding less food and supplementing with canned green beans or cooked carrots will achieve your pet’s weight loss while still allowing him or her to feel full. Remember: feed ⅔ to ¾ of what the bag suggests for their ideal weight. The reason you do this is the bag is counting calories for a very active dog (aka hiking in the mountains, search and rescue, etc). Most of the dogs we see in our practice are kept inside the majority of the day until their owners get home. They do not require many calories at all. Ask you veterinarian to calculate the calories your pet needs.
  • Diet food. Sometimes getting patients to lose food on a regular adult diet is impossible. For those patients trying an over the counter or even prescription diet will oftentimes result in weight loss. Remember cut out all people food and reduce treats significantly during the diet.
  • Exercise. If your pet is obese, this may not be a good idea (too much weight and walking can harm the joints), but if not, throwing the ball for 30 minutes a day, playing with a laser pointer, or going for a walk is great for weight loss. It also helps your pet’s heart and lungs!
  • Don’t give in to begging. To most people, food is love. That is how most owners show their pets that they care. It is so hard when your pet is asking politely, or in some cases, demanding food. Giving cooked carrots, canned green beans, and other cooked veggies are the only people foods that are sort-ave okay to give when they are dieting. Remember calories add up. NOTE:  Feeding foods high in sugars and fat increase your pet’s risk of developing pancreatitis, which is a lifelong disease of the digestive system.
  • No people food. I know I’m saying it again. Truly, the calories in people food are too high to be given to your pet. Avoid this.

 

Why should you help your pet lose weight?

  • Fat is an organ too and being overweight increases inflammation in the body and leads to other disease states such as: diabetes, arthritis, skin issues, heart issues, and increased blood pressure.
    • Overweight pets are also at high risk for some or all of the following symptoms: trouble breathing, heat stroke, compromised immune system, and  decreased life span.

 

July is Healthy Joints Month.

Healthy joints make all the difference..

 

In July, we are focusing on helping our patients with their painful joints! Arthritis is very common in our middle age and geriatric patients. It limits the fun things they can do and makes normal activities like walking and playing painful. We want to help! We are offering 10% off all our joint and mobility therapies. This includes: cold laser therapy, joint supplements, joint injections, Adequan therapy, pain medications, and joint  pain medications.

 

 

 

In the month of July, we are offerring 10% off:

  • Dasuquin Advanced and Moviflex (joint supplements)
  • NSAIDs and other pain medications for achy joints
  • Cold laser therapy (to decrease pain, reduce inflammation, and speed healing)
  • Adequan (to strenthen and rebuild the cartilage in the joint)
  • Joint/Mobility foods
  • Joint injections (Hyaluronic Acid)

May is 10% off Welless Bloodwork Month!

How do you know what’s really going on with your pet’s body?

 

Yearly bloodwork can take the mystery out of how healthy your pet is and is the only way to detect organ disease BEFORE your pet starts showing abnormal behavior. This is one of the most under used services we offer. So, this month, we are offering a discount! We want to help your pet live a long happy life and give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing your pet’s body is functioning well.

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Wellness Bloodwork Month: 10% off all Wellness Bloodwork

Package A (recommended for young animals: 1-5 yrs) –$74.95 →  $67.46

($7 dollar savings from in house labwork prices!!)

Package B (recommended for adult animals: 5-8 yrs) –$129.95 → $116.96

($80 dollar savings from in house labwork prices!!)

Package C (recommended for geriatric animals: 9-15 yrs) — $169.95→ $152.96

($139.29 savings from in house labwork prices!!)

Why is Parasite Prevention Important?

The Importance of Your Pet’s Yearly Fecal Exam

We recommend that every pet have a fecal checked for intestinal parasites yearly. One major reason for this is that intestinal parasites can harm your pets by decreasing their ability to absorb nutrients, causing vomiting or diarrhea, or even damaging their intestines. The other important reason to check your pets for parasites is that many of these infections are zoonotic, which means that they can spread to people. Young children are often especially at risk of developing parasitic infections, as their hygiene can be less than ideal.

What are the most common parasites found in fecal samples of dogs and cats?

Roundworms:

Roundworms are one of the most common worms seen in fecal exams of young puppies and kittens.t.canis This is because the worms are spread from the mother to the babies across the placenta. We assume that every puppy and kitten is positive for roundworms, which is why we put every patient on a safe dewormer to give consistently until they are six months of age.

If untreated, roundworms can cause young animals to have a “pot belly” appearance and to grow more slowly than they should. Animals will sometimes vomit up worms or have worms in their stool. The immature form of the worm also travels through the lungs, so some animals will cough or show respiratory distress.

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Zoonotic risk

Roundworms are a very important zoonotic disease, often seen in children. Disease occurs when children eat an egg, released in the stool of an affected animal,  from the environment. These eggs survive in soil for many years, and can often be found at parks or playgrounds. After the child eats the egg, the larvae are born and migrate throughout the child’s body. This can cause disease in any number of organs: liver, lung, brain, or eye. Because the eggs are so difficult to kill once they are in the environment, it is very important that we prevent our pets from spreading them.

Hookworms:

Dogs and cats have many different ways to become infected by hookworms. The eggs can be eaten HookwormMouthfrom the environment or from consuming another animal. Hookworm larvae can also burrow into an animal’s skin and enter the body that way. Similar to roundworms, hookworms are also spread from mother to baby. However, instead of crossing the placenta, hookworm larvae are passed to the baby through the milk. Again, this makes hookworms very common in young animals. This is another reason why we always deworm puppies and kittens.

Hookworms are nasty parasites that slash at the intestines and drink the blood of the animal. They inject anti-coagulants into their wounds to create small bleeding ulcers that they feed from. This can cause animals to become anemic from lack of red blood cells. Affected animals are often pale, thin and sick in appearance. Young puppies and kittens can even die from hookworm infections. Respiratory disease is also possible, again secondary to the larvae traveling through the animal’s lungs.

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Zoonotic risk

Similar to how they infect dogs and cats, hookworm larvae can enter the skin of humans. However, they become lost inside the human skin and cannot find their way to the GI tract. Instead, they migrate around the skin, causing a red itchy lesion. This is one of the most common skin infections seen in tourists to tropical locations. Another common place for infection is in children’s sandboxes, which should always be covered when not in use.

Whipworms:

Whipworms are much more commonly seen in dogs than cats. Dogs become infected when they eat whipworm eggs from the environment. Whipworms also can damage the intestines and cause diarrhea. The most difficult part of treating whipworm infections is that their eggs are incredibly hardy and can live for years in the environment. For this reason, dogs should be on a monthly heartworm prevention that is labelled to protect against whipworms (i.e Sentinel, Trifexis, or Interceptor).

Zoonotic risk: None proven

Coccidia:

Coccidia

Microscopic View of Coccidia

Coccidia are single-celled protozoan parasites that commonly infect dogs and cats, especially puppies and kittens. They cause diarrhea, dehydration, vomiting, lack of growth, and possibly death. Coccidia can be picked up by eating eggs from the environment or from hunting and eating other infected animals. Coccidia is also very hardy in the environment and is resistant to most disinfectants, so it can be difficult to get rid of the eggs once they are released from the animal in the stool. Treatment for coccidia is a medication called Albon, which is different from the treatment for most other intestinal parasites.

Zoonotic risk: None

giardia-trph1

Microscopic View of Giardia

Giardia:

Giardia is another protozoa that can cause diarrhea in dogs and cats. Cysts are picked up from the environment, often from a contaminated water source, or from the animal grooming itself. Treatment for giardia often involves a combination of medications, as well as bathing to remove cysts from the animal’s coat. We will often treat asymptomatic animals from the same household, since the parasite is so contagious and can be difficult to control.

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Zoonotic Risk

Very low. Humans can develop giardia infections as well, but it has not been demonstrated to travel between dogs/cats and humans. It is suspected that humans can only spread giardia to other humans, and dogs and cats have their own species as well.

 

 

Tapeworms:tapewormhead

Tapeworms can be difficult to diagnose from a fecal sample, as their eggs are often too heavy to show up in a fecal float test. However, they are often recognizable as “small grains of rice” in the animal’s feces. Dogs and cats catch tapeworms from either predation of other animals or eating fleas (often when grooming them off of their coats). Fortunately, severe disease from tapeworms is uncommon and treatment is simple. Regular flea prevention and not allowing pets to hunt will keep them from developing tapeworm infestations.

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Zoonotic Risk

Although rare, tapeworms, especially Echinococcus species, can cause a significant risk for humans who ingest their eggs. In this scenario, people may become the intermediate host of the parasite, and develop large tapeworm cysts somewhere in their body. This can require drainage, surgical removal, or long-term treatment with anti-parasitic medication.

 

 

How can we prevent intestinal parasites?

The best way to prevent intestinal parasites is to keep your pet on a monthly heartworm preventative that also kills GI worms. Each of these preventatives vary in their spectrum, so ask your veterinarian which one may be appropriate for your pet. Flea prevention is also very important, both to prevent flea infestations and tapeworm infections.Yearly fecal exams allow us to pick up on parasites that may not be addressed by monthly preventatives, such as coccidia, giardia or tapeworms.

Feel free to ask your veterinarian if you have more questions about these intestinal parasites. Also, enjoy 10% off fecal testing and heartworm testing for the month of April, as well as discounts and bargains on flea/tick and heartworm/gutworm preventatives! Click here to learn more about our BOGO deals on heartworm and gutworm prevention.

RABIES – What You Need To Know!

Rabies – What you need to know!

 

What is rabies?animalsgroup

Rabies is a sudden onset, progressive disease caused by a virus that affects the brains of mammals. Bats, skunks, raccoons, and other wild animals are most commonly affected. This disease is FATAL once clinical signs appear. Thus prevention is VERY important because there is NO treatment.

Rabies is transmitted by bites or saliva from an infected animal contacting broken skin of a healthy person or animal.

How to recognize an animal with signs of rabies:

Animals may show a lot of symptoms or very few. Rabies can cause animals to exhibit sudden and strange behaviors such as sudden loss of appetite, anxious behaviors, irritability, hyper-excitability, or uncharacteristic aggression. Wild animals may act tame, normally tame animals may suddenly act aggressively, or nocturnal animals may be seen out and about during the daytime. Some animals will have paralysis or “dumb rabies” where the changes in the animal’s personality are more subtle and the primary sign is being quiet or depressed, paralysis, or ataxia (wobbly or uncoordinated movement). Not every infected animal will act like rabid animals on TV or in movies!

It is not possible to test a live animal for rabies. Only a sample of tissue from a deceased animal’s brain can be tested to know if that animal had rabies.

Do I need to vaccinate my animal?

RabiesTagIn short, YES. Vaccination is the only known prevention. All cats and dogs are required by law to be vaccinated for rabies. Ferrets may also be vaccinated. Horses, cattle, pigs, and small ruminants can all get rabies but are not commonly vaccinated. We highly recommend vaccinating your horses and any other farm animal that has lots of contact with you or your family.

Indoor animals are at risk, too, as rabid animals behave erratically and are more likely to come inside a home. When the rabid, disoriented bat flies down the chimney or in through an air vent, your cat or small dog may be the first family member to find it!

What to remember:

Please remember that there is NO TREATMENT OR CURE for this fatal disease.

Note: Traditional remedies such as chili powder or jackfruit gum do not prevent rabies. Do not substitute these practices for medical treatment. Always seek advice from a medical professional.

Have a licensed veterinarian vaccinate your pets against rabies regularly. If you get bitten by any animal, but especially by a wild animal, cleanse the wound and contact a medical professional immediately. If you notice unusual behaviors or suspect rabies in either a pet or a wild animal, contact a veterinarian or animal control professional immediately.

Use the following list of resources to learn more about rabies and rabies prevention!

Rabies Resources:

worldrabiesday

 

World Rabies Day is September 28!

Global Alliance for Rabies Control 

Merck Veterinary Manual – In Depth on Rabies

Arthritis and Degenerative Joint Disease Treatments

For the Month of July, we are offering 10% off:

 

Dasuquin Advanced (joint supplement)

Dasuquin Advanced is an amazing joint supplement. It works by giving your dog or cat’s body what it needs to heal the cartilage in his or her joints. It comes in two formulations: tablets and chews. There is no difference in quality or efficacy between the two forms. There is no generic equivalent to this product.

Dasuquin Advanced contains ASU which scientifically proven to reverse cartilage damage and increase joint health. This type of break through with a holistic oral joint supplement has never happened in veterinary medicine before. This makes Dasuquin Advanced the most effective supplement on the market for dog with early arthritis (DJD).

Some of the other ingredients in Dasuquin Advanced, hyaluronic acid, MSM, and glucosamine, have a long history of improving joint health in patients. Evidence of this was seen with the efficacy of Dasuquin and Dasuquin with MSM increasing joint mobility, decreasing joint inflammation and lessening joint pain in many canine and feline patients treated with these products.

Find more information: http://www.dasuquin.com/en/dasuquin-advanced-soft-chews/

 

Dasuquin for Cats

For more information: http://www.dasuquin.com/en/products/#cat

 

Moviflex

Moviflex is a new joint supplement made specifically for dogs. It is made from egg shell membrane. It also contains Hyaluronic, vitamin D, and Boswellia serrata extract. This joint supplement works very well for patients with early joint disease. It is also great for dogs with food allergies. It contains no gluten, sugar, salt, or shellfish.

Find more information:  https://us.virbac.com/product/supplements/movoflex-soft-chews

NSAIDs and other pain medications for achy joints

Pain and inflammation are major factors in feline and canine arthritis. This pain becomes crippling in older patients. Running, stairs, and sometimes walking are painful. Patients become obese and this extra weight leads to further strain on the joints resulting in pain and inflammation. Keeping these patients strong and a good weight is a very important part of managing their arthritis.

NSAIDs are pain and fever reducing medications that decrease the inflammation in the joints. As a result, pain decreases, and patients are able to move more freely.

NSAIDs can have side effects such as liver disease and kidney disease in cats and dogs. In cats, these risks are too high. NSAIDs are used very, very rarely in them and only in extreme cases. NSAID use in dogs is relatively safe. We do have to monitor their kidney and liver values closely though. We do blood work before starting the NSAID. Then, we do it once every six months. This helps get the dog the pain relief it needs to be happy and healthy, and it maintains the health and safety of the patient.

 

Cold laser therapy (to decrease pain, reduce inflammation, and speed healing)

For more information: http://ivcjournal.com/laser-therapy-veterinary-medicine/

Adequan (to strengthen and rebuild the cartilage in the joint)

 

For more information on this therapy: https://www.adequancanine.us/

 

Joint/Mobility foods

Purina J/M: https://www.proplanveterinarydiets.com/products/jm-joint-mobility-dog/

Hill’s J/D: http://www.hillspet.com/en/us/products/pd-canine-jd-dry

 

Joint injections (Hyaluronic Acid)

For more information: http://veterinarynews.dvm360.com/surgery-stat-intra-articular-therapies-elbow-dogs

April’s Parasite Month Preventative SALE!!!

Elkwood Animal Hospital’s Flea and Tick, Heartworm, and Gutworm Preventative SALE!!!

 

Trifexis:

Trifexis is dosed by weight. Bring your dog in for a weigh in today and get some BOGO heartworm, gutworm, and flea preventative.

Trifexis is dosed by weight. Bring your dog for a weigh in today and get some BOGO heartworm, gutworm, and flea preventative.

BUY 6 Months of Trifexis (all the same size) and get 6 months FREE!!!

Heartworm, gutworm, and flea prevention all year for half the price. This product is one of the best if not the best product of it’s kind on the market. Guaranteed to work! Simply give one tablet by mouth once a month WITH FOOD.

 

 

Heartgard and NexGard:

Image result for nexgard chewables for dogs

Image result for heartgard chewables for dogsBuy six months of Nexgard and Heartgard and get $40 off instantly and $15 rebate.

Buy twelve months of Nexgard and Heartgard and get $80 of instantly and a $50 rebate.

                                                  Heartgard and Nexgard together provide protection from heartworms, roundworms, hookworms, fleas, and ticks.

Feline Revolution:

Image result for revolution for cats

Buy six months of Feline Revolution and get two doses free and $30 off instantly.

Buy nine months of Feline Revolution and get three doses free and $60 off instantly.

Heartworm And Tick Disease Testing:

Does your dog need a heartworm/lyme/anaplasma/ehrlichia test. They are $15 per test on April 22nd (Typically, they are $49.)!  Call and make your appointment today (540-439-9016).

Got questions about lyme disease in dogs? We have answers…

Answers to Your Questions About Lyme Disease:

What causes lyme disease?

Lyme disease is caused by a bacteria called Borrelia burgdoferi, which is transmitted by a tick bite. A young tick picks up the bacteria by drinking the blood of a small host, usually a mouse, that is carrying the infection. As the tick matures, it begins to search for a larger host, such as a deer, human or dog. When it bites, the tick regurgitates into the animal’s blood to keep it from clotting. This regurgitation process is what transmits the bacteria to the animal. The tick must be attached for 24 to 48 hours before this transmission process is completed. If the tick is removed before it has been attached for 24 hours, the lyme disease bacteria cannot be transmitted.

How is lyme disease in dogs different from lyme disease in humans?

Lyme disease affects our canine companions in a much different manner than it affects humans. Humans who are infected by the lyme disease bacteria due to a tick bite tend to quickly develop flu-like symptoms, a rash around the tick bite site, and potentially neurological or cardiac abnormalities. Dogs, on the other hand, do not tend to show signs of this disease right away. If they do develop signs of infection, it is weeks to months after exposure and tends to manifest as arthritis or joint pain.

Some dogs never show any clinical signs of the disease at all. However, lack of clinical signs does not mean that lyme disease is not harming your pet. Sub-clinical lyme disease can cause damage to the dog’s cartilage due to chronic low-level inflammation and the kidneys due to chronic stimulation of the immune system.

Do we have lyme disease in this area?

Yes! Lyme disease is unfortunately very common in this area, and this is a disease that our doctors are faced with on a daily basis. Even dogs in our area,  that stay inside the majority of the time contract this disease.

How do we treat lyme disease once it is present?

Veterinarians will often prescribe a 28-day course of doxycycline, which is the same antibiotic used in humans. This treatment simply lowers the levels of lyme bacteria so there is no longer an active infection, but some bacteria remain hidden in the body long-term.

We have never been able to completely cure Lyme disease. This is because it has one appearance (OspA) when it enters the body. Then, after entering the body, it changes the proteins on the outside of the bacteria to hide from the immune system (OspC). In the past, lyme vaccines only provided immunity to Osp A. A new vaccine from Zoetis teaches the body to be immune to both appearances of the lyme disease bacteria. It is the veterinary community’s hope that this vaccine will help your dog’s immune system rid itself of the OspA and OspC lyme infection completely. Thereby, curing the dog of lyme disease. Time will tell us if this is truly possible.

Chronic lyme infections require an antibody level test (called a “Quantitative C6 Test”). A dog with a higher C6 antibody level likely has an active infection and should be treated with doxycycline. This is the only way to determine the severity of your dog’s current lyme infection.

How do we protect our dogs from lyme disease?

Regular monthly flea and tick prevention is the absolute best way to prevent lyme disease in dogs. As stated above, the tick needs to be attached to the dogs for 24 to 48 hours to transmit lyme disease. Both oral (Nexgard) and topical (Frontline plus and Frontline Gold) flea/tick preventatives will cause the biting tick to die before this point of transference.

Sometimes we forget to give our dogs their flea/tick prevention on time. In that case, vaccination against lyme provides a second level of defense against the disease. Vaccination will cause the dog’s immune system to be prepared to kill the lyme bacteria.

Traditionally, the lyme vaccine had only worked for dogs that had not already been exposed to the disease. This is because the protein (OspA) that the vaccine created immunity against was the protein the bacteria wore inside the tick. The dog’s antibodies would kill the lyme bacteria before it even entered their bodies. This was great for lyme negative dogs but did not help dogs who were already infected. There is a new Zoetis lyme vaccine that creates immunity against a second protein (OspC) as well, this one that is expressed by the bacteria in the dog’s body. Immunity to this second protein will your dog’s immunity against an infection that is already present in his or her boy. This is why we will recommend vaccination with the Zoetis lyme vaccine after doxycycline treatment to help boost the dog’s ability to fight off the chronic infection.

Do you have more questions about lyme disease in dogs? Feel free to ask one of our doctors!

How to train your pet to love tooth brushing time

How to train your pet to love tooth brushing

 

Dental disease is one of the most common conditions that veterinarians diagnose in our canine and feline patients. Besides contributing to bad breath, dental disease can also result in pain and infection, which can cause a pet to become inappetant or ill. The most successful way to prevent dental disease in our pets is the same way we prevent dental disease in ourselves: daily tooth brushing. Although this can sound intimidating, most pets will learn to love tooth brushing with the appropriate training schedule. Even cats can be taught to participate in their own dental care when the training is slow, consistent, and full of positive reinforcement.

Step #1: Start brushing your pet’s teeth as early as possible! Although puppies and kittens may be taught to accept tooth brushing more easily, it is never too late for an animal to learn.

Step #2: Collect the supplies needed. There are many different kits used for pet dental care- some include finger brushes, others include more traditional toothbrushes with soft bristles. Either type of brush can work, depending on the pet. Pet toothpaste often comes in flavors such as poultry (the most popular flavor for both dogs and cats), beef, tuna and vanilla mint. Try out these flavors to see which your pet prefers. These toothpastes are enzymatic, meaning that they will continue to break down plaque on the teeth even after brushing is completed.

Note- do not use human toothpastes in dogs and cats. Animals end up swallowing a significant amount of toothpaste during brushing, and human toothpastes can cause an upset gastrointestinal tract. Also, it is much easier to train pets to love tooth brushing when the toothpaste is flavored like a treat!

Step #3: Determine the best time and location for daily toothbrushing. Animals do much better when there is a routine associated with the task they are learning (this also helps us  remember to brush the teeth daily!).

Step #4: At the chosen time and in the chosen location, call your pet to you. Reward them with a small amount of toothpaste on your finger. This will teach them to see the toothpaste as a treat. Repeat this step once daily until your pet readily arrives for the toothpaste. This may require just a couple days for some dogs, but other dogs and most cats may need a couple weeks of training before they are consistent.

Step #5: When the pet arrives for toothpaste, provide it for them on the toothbrush instead of your Image result for dental pictures dogsfinger. Allow them to lick it off the toothbrush. Repeat this daily until the pet shows no concerns about the toothbrush. Again, this can take days to weeks, depending on the animal.

Step #6: The next step is to get the pet to accept you touching his/her face while licking the toothpaste. Once this does not surprise the pet anymore, you can lift the upper lip on one side of the mouth to visualize the teeth.

Step #7: When lifting the upper lip on one side of the mouth, you can do a small stroke with the toothbrush and toothpaste. On the next day, do the other side. Continue to increase the time spent brushing, while paying attention to the comfort level of your pet. Make this process positive by praising your animal for good behavior.

Note- it is most important to contact the outer (cheek) side of the upper teeth when brushing an animal’s teeth, as this is where they build up most tartar. This is also the area that is most comfortable for animals to have brushed. You should also be able to brush the outer side of the lower teeth. Do not worry about the insides of the teeth near the tongue and palate. These areas do not build up as much plaque and can be addressed when the animal is under anesthesia for dental cleanings in the future.

Regular toothbrushing is easier to do when your pet enjoys and participates in the process! If your pet will not tolerate tooth brushing, please talk to us about other options to preserve dental health, such as dental diets, chews, and sprays. As always, even with regular toothbrushing, our pets will likely require regular dental cleanings under anesthesia over the course of their lives. The goal with toothbrushing is to decrease the need for these, resulting in less anesthesia time and better overall oral health for your pet.

Busting Myths About Cats & Vet Visits!

Even though there are more cats than dogs in American households, cats still visit the vet much less often than dogs. We at Elkwood Animal Hospital want to help change this! Our cats are also members of the family, and deserve excellent veterinary care just as much as our canine companions.

Myth #1:

Cats Don’t Get Sick As Often As Dogs Do

Cats are very good at hiding signs of illness. Our cats do get ill, with stomach upset, parasites, diarrhea, urinary tract infections, diabetes, kidney disease, and more. Sometimes we don’t notice they are having trouble (because they would rather be seen as self-sufficient and independent!) until they don’t make it to the litterbox like they should, can’t seem to get enough water so raid the dog’s bowl, or feel so ill they just don’t want to get up and look out their favorite window. Having an annual vet check can help find the subtle early signs of illness so we can keep our cats feeling their best more of the time.

Myth #2:

Indoor Cats Don’t Need Vaccines

Cats are just as susceptible to rabies and nasty respiratory and gastrointestinal viruses as dogs are, and just because your cat is inside doesn’t mean he or she shouldn’t be protected from these deadly diseases. Indoor cats are often on the front lines of “defense” of the home when a bat sneaks in a window or chimney, or a strange animal enters the garage, or even the front door! Even if the cat never leaves the premises, sick (and rabid) animals can show up at our door or window any time and risk exposing our cats and our families to diseases which are preventable with vaccinations.

Myth #3:

Traveling To The Vet Is Too Stressful

This is a tough one, but not insurmountable!

A lot of the stress of coming to the vet comes down to the cat carrier and the car ride. If your cat is a kitten, NOW is the time to get him or her used to the carrier and short car rides, so that travel is much less stressful later on. Use the carrier as a special bed at home, leave it out with cuddly blankets and maybe tuck some treats inside from time to time, for kitty to discover. You’ll find this goes a long way to make the carrier a cozy place to be rather than a threatening transportation device. Taking practice rides in the carrier that just go around the block and conclude with a special meal or treat back at home is another great way to get younger (and older!) cats used to travel.

Talk with our veterinarians about anti-anxiety options for travel as well. Feliway is a common, side-effect free option for lowering stress levels in the carrier, car, and vet clinic. We also have nutraceuticals (with natural anxiety relievers) or medications that may be helpful for individual cats to make their annual vet trip.

We are working every day to make sure your time in the clinic as stress free as possible, as well. Let us know tips that work for your cat and we may be able to accommodate their individual needs. Also, don’t forget we make house calls! This lets your cat get the care he or she needs with no travel required!

 

In January 2017, we’re making felines our focus! We’re offering special discounts (10% off most care!) on wellness care for your cat, to make sure preventive care, routine screening tests, and parasite prevention can reach as many cats in our client households as possible. Have a cat who has never actually been to see us yet? These new cat patients are eligible for 15% off their services!

Call us to set up an appointment or find out more!

 

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