The Importance of Dental Health for Your Pet

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and we’re taking the opportunity to answer common questions about dental healthcare for your pets!

Why does my pet need dental care?

Dental care for pets is just as important as it is for humans. Plaque can develop under the gum line and professional cleanings are required to treat it. Plaque, when left untreated, can build up and harden into tartar, which can develop into more severe health issues. By the time most pets reach the age of three, they likely have some form of dental disease. One of the most common issues seen in pets is periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease starts when plaque hardens into tartar and causes an infection in the mouth. This infection can impact the gums, weaken the jawbone, and even cause teeth to fall out. In extreme cases, dental disease can lead to more serious problems in the liver, kidneys, and heart.

What are the symptoms of dental disease in pets?

To prevent and help treat dental disease, monitor your pets for these symptoms:

  • Yellow or brown buildup (tartar) on the teeth
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Changes in eating or chewing habits
  • Pawing at the face
  • Loose teeth
  • Depression

If you notice these symptoms in your pet, make an appointment with us to start treatment. Regular dental cleanings will help prevent dental disease from forming in the first place.

What do pet dental exams and procedures consist of?

Pet dental work is very similar to human dental work. It consists of cleaning, polishing, fillings, extractions and repairing the damage. When you book a dental appointment, your doctor will examine your pet’s mouth, teeth, and jaw. X-rays are often used to help your Veterinarian understand what is happening below the gum line.

Teeth cleanings start with a physical exam to assess your pet’s overall health. Once we ensure it is safe to do so, we will put your pet under anesthesia to guarantee a safe and painless cleaning. Your doctor will scrape the tartar off your pet’s teeth, clean above & under the gum line and in between each tooth. The final step is to wash the gums to delay tartar buildup.

If your pet already suffers from dental disease, extractions and advanced procedures may be required. These procedures are only recommended when they are necessary for the well-being of your pet. Extractions are usually recommended when your Veterinarian identifies a broken or infected tooth. Before any procedure, we will discuss what this procedure means for your pet going forward and give you instructions on how to properly care for them while they are healing.

Why do pets need to undergo anesthesia when getting X-rays and dental procedures?

Dental disease often begins below the gum line, X-rays are often required to see the whole picture. Our pets don’t understand what X-rays are or why they need to stay still while the X-rays are being taken. When an animal is under anesthesia, they are laying still, allowing your vet to get a clear picture of what is happening inside your pet’s mouth.

It is also important for pets to stay still during extractions, procedures and cleanings. Pets don’t understand that these things are being done for their benefit. Instead, they feel the discomfort of an unfamiliar experience. Keeping pets still during dental exams helps reduce the pain for your pets and the doctor working with them. Keeping pets still prevents them from biting down on the equipment or the hand that is working in their teeth. Putting your pet under anesthesia protects both your pet and the doctor working on them while limiting any pain felt.

Anesthesia has become much safer in recent years. Our team will conduct a wellness exam and bloodwork to ensure your pet is well enough to be put under. Most pets can go home the same day as their dental appointment but may be drowsy for several hours afterward.

How can I help take care of my pets’ teeth at home?

While your pets can’t brush their teeth twice a day, there are things you can do at home to help them maintain a healthy mouth. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and providing them with teeth cleaning treats can help to prevent dental disease. Make sure to check for size or weight recommendations on hard toys and bones to help prevent damaging your pet’s teeth.

Call us if you have any additional questions about your pet’s dental health! Regular oral exams and dental procedures coupled with at home care is the best way to prevent disease and damage to your pet’s mouth, teeth, and jaw. Book an appointment with us today!

Importance of Wellness Exams

What Are Wellness Exams?

Like human check-ups, wellness exams are annual or bi-annual visits to ensure your pet is healthy. Wellness exams are an excellent opportunity to discuss concerns or questions about your pet’s health with your veterinarian. These exams also give you time to discuss treatment options and preventative with your veterinarian. Annual exams are a vital step in keeping your pet feeling their best!

What Do Vets Check For During Exams?

There are two parts to wellness exams. During the first portion, your veterinarian will ask questions about your pet’s diet, exercise routine and behaviors. We do this to better understand your pet’s lifestyle and any factors that could put their health at risk. We may suggest alternative options if we have any concerns about their daily routines.

During the second portion of the wellness exam, your veterinarian will physically examine your pet. We’ll listen to your pet’s breathing pattern for irregularities and feel different parts of your pet to ensure there are no issues with organs or their skin. We’ll also assess your pet’s posture, skin, eyes, ears, nose, face, mouth, teeth, and even hair! It’s truly a nose-to-tail examination.

The most common tests to see at a wellness exam are fecal tests, heartworm tests, and diagnostic tests. Your Veterinarian may also perform some or all of these common tests. The fecal test checks for internal parasites and other internal conditions that can harm your pet if they go undetected. The heartworm test is a yearly check to ensure that your pet’s chosen prevention plan is working. Common diagnostic tests such as regular blood testing are run during these visits to detect diseases early and to be able to treat those illnesses faster.

Regular Wellness Exams also help with prevention. Vaccines are needed to protect your pet against illnesses and disease, annual oral assessments help to prevent dental disease, and parasite prevention protects your pet from heartworms, fleas, ticks, and other common pests.

Why Should I Get Wellness Exams for My Pet?

Your pet cannot tell you when something is wrong, but an annual wellness exam can reveal issues and illnesses. Many pets are very good at hiding disease or injury from their owners. This can make it difficult to detect when your pet is in pain and make their ailment much more difficult to treat once it is detected. If a veterinarian identifies a disease or condition in your pet early, the discomfort your pet may experience dramatically decreases.

For senior pets, we recommend increasing wellness exams to twice a year. Older pets are at higher risk of developing diseases or suffering from injuries. Likewise, puppies and kittens usually need several wellness visits before they turn one year of age to ensure they’re properly vaccinated, spayed or neutered, microchipped and more. Your veterinarian will be able to provide a more detailed timeline for Puppy and Kitten appointments.

Is it time for your pet’s annual routine exam? Book an appointment for your furry friend today!

Keep Your Pet in the Holiday Spirit and Out of the Hospital

The holiday season is full of presents, joy, and family, but also an increased risk of danger for pets. Make sure to keep an eye on your pet when lighting candles, decorating your house, and enjoying holiday food and treats!

Candles and String Lights

Make sure to keep candles away from your pets. The flame may scare or confuse your pet, which could lead to them trying to investigate what it is. Your pet may end up knocking over the candle and catching himself or the surrounding area on fire. Keep your candles in a safe place out of your pet’s reach, and keep a screen across your fireplace!

String lights are a very popular decoration during the holiday season. While beautiful, these lights can pose a risk to your pets. Make sure to keep cords out of reach of your pets or get a protective covering to prevent your pet from chewing on the wires and bulbs.

If your pet manages to get a hold of the lights, check for signs of electric shock in animals. Pets who have suffered electric shock will often appear dazed and confused. They may exhibit burns in the mouth, difficulty breathing, seizures, and in extreme cases, death. If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet or notice a chewed cable, contact us or an emergency veterinary clinic immediately!

Trees and Ornaments

If you put up a tree during the holiday season, make sure to take extra precautions to keep your fur babies safe! Invest in a weighted tree stand to keep the tree from tipping over if a curious cat decides to climb it or an energized dog bumps into it. Keep tinsel and breakable ornaments up high and out of reach of pets. Everyone loves presents! Be sure to monitor any placed under the tree to ensure your pets don’t get too excited and try to open them early!

Ornaments are another very common decoration to see throughout the holiday season. These can be very harmful to pets, who may mistake them for toys. If your pet breaks a glass or metal ornament, it can lead to cuts on his or her body, and if your pet ingests the broken ornament, it can lead to cuts in his or her throat or internal damage. Plastic and plush ornaments can also pose a threat to your pet, as they can cause internal blockages. Your pet could also suffer from lethargy, a loss of appetite, or stomach pain if he ingests holiday decorations.

Food and Treats

There are many reasons for celebrations this time of year, and those celebrations often come with delicious food and tasty treats. In all of the holiday cheer, don’t forget that some food can be dangerous for pets to consume! Make sure to keep bones away from pets, as when ingested, bones can cause internal damage such as cuts to the throat or stomach, blockages in the intestinal tract, and may cause your pet to choke.

There are many common holiday scents and flavors that are toxic to pets. Make sure to keep your pets away from anything that contains peppermint, pine, and wintergreen.

You should also avoid giving your pet:

  • Raisins
  • Grapes
  • Onions
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeine
  • Macadamia nuts
  • Fatty foods

These foods are toxic to pets and may cause an upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, and even pancreatitis. We always recommend sticking to food and treats made for your pet, but if you do want to give them a special treat, make sure to check if it is safe for animals before giving it to them!

Following these safety tips can help keep your pet happy and healthy and out of the hospital this holiday season! If you have any questions about this blog or encounter one of these situations, give us a call or send us a message, and we’ll be happy to help!

From our family to yours, we wish you happy holidays and a safe New Year!

Thanksgiving Guide for Pet Owners

As you prepare to welcome guests, decorations and treats into your home this holiday season, remember that your pet might need some help adjusting to the excitement. Spread holiday cheer by following the pet safety tips below and keeping your pet’s diet and exercise routine consistent.

Dinner stays on the Table

It may seem obvious but keeping your pet away from table food is one of the best ways to keep them safe this holiday season.

Often, there is an increase in food poisoning in pets during Thanksgiving. Turkey and its skin can cause pancreatitis, which is very dangerous for pets. Pancreatitis is abdominal pain caused by inflammation of the pancreas. Other fatty foods and foods that we consider “healthy” may not be healthy for our pets. Foods such as onions, raisins, grapes and foods with a high amount of salt can be poisonous to your pet. If you want to include your pet in the holiday festivities, make or buy a treat created especially for pets!

Make sure to keep your pet away from the dessert table! Desserts and pies are also foods your pets should not get ahold of. Even if you think it can be harmless, most desserts contain a sweetener called xylitol, which can be very deadly to pets with just a tiny amount.

Lastly, While you might not think twice about disposing of turkey bones and other holiday scraps in your trash bin, your pet might view this as an opportunity to treat themselves. Make sure your trash is secured in a cabinet or closet where pets cannot easily access it.

If your pet ingests something toxic, do not panic! Call us immediately and we will help guide you through the situation. If we’re closed, please call a local emergency clinic.

Got Visitors?

If you are hosting this Thanksgiving, there are some things that you can do to keep your pet safe.

Big crowds of visitors and meeting new people can cause anxiety and excitement in pets. With all the noise and activities occurring simultaneously, you might consider putting your nervous pet in a safe space away from people. Make sure to check in on your pet regularly and supply them with plenty of toys and treats to keep them distracted.

As guests enter and exit your home, keep an eye on the door! Be careful that your pet does not slip outside with a guest and somehow escape. To prevent your pet from getting lost, it is recommended that every pet gets an ID tag and/ or microchip. If your pet does end up outside, ID tags and microchips help reunite you and your lost pet.

Traveling With Your Pet

There is much stress associated with traveling. Whether by car or air, there are many things that travelers need to plan for, especially when it comes to pets.

To help ensure your pet’s safety while traveling, make an appointment for a checkup before departure. Ask your doctor for recommended ways to relax your pet during travel, whether through medication or natural remedies.

When traveling, you need to pack for not only yourself but your pet as well. Make sure you pack the correct kind and amount of food, medication, medical records, and ID information.

It would help to keep your pets safe in an airline-approved pet carrier. These carriers must conform to the size stated by the airline but should also be big enough for your pet to stand, sit, lie down, and turn around.

When traveling by car, make sure that your pet is never alone in a vehicle, no matter the weather or circumstance, and plan to make frequent stops to let your pet use the restroom, drink water, and stretch their legs.

As always, if you have any questions, we’re always available to help! Don’t forget to give your pet the best gift of all this holiday season and bring them in for a wellness exam to ensure they’re feeling their best.