Archive for the ‘disease prevention’ Category

National Pet Dental Month

Monday, February 10th, 2014

With National Pet Dental month coming up in February, we wanted our clients to be informed about dentals and why they’re important. Here are some basic questions that some of our clients ask about their pets teeth.

How many teeth do my dog or cat have?

Dogs start with 28 deciduous or baby teeth and cats start out with 26 deciduous teeth. By the age of 6 months, the baby teeth fall out and are followed by permanent teeth leaving dogs with 42 and cats with 30.

What happens when deciduous teeth fall out on their own?

You, as an owner, may not find your pets deciduous teeth as they fall out. However, they may be found as cats groom themselves or as dogs chew on toys. If the deciduous teeth don’t fall out and the permanent teeth start to come through, this can lead to problems such as increased tartar formation, malocclusion (bad bite) problems and gingival (gum) irritation.

When should I start with dental care for my pet?

The earlier the better. The sooner your pet gets use to regular brushing of the teeth, the easier it will be. The next time you see the vet, ask them for some cleaning tips to help keep your pets mouth healthy. With his/her help, you can be on the lookout for retained deciduous teeth and malocclusion problems. There are also veterinarian approved chew toys and treats that assist in keeping your pets teeth clean.

How can I tell if my pet has dental problems?

Bad breath is usually the first sign of dental disease. Check your pets’ teeth for tartar buildup, inflamed gums, or missing/broken teeth. Cats may exhibit increased drooling. Both cats and dogs may seem uninterested in toys, “chattering” of teeth when trying to eat, lethargy, bleeding gums, eroding teeth, and failing to groom in cats. Dental disease progresses in stages and if caught early enough, you can prevent further damage and save as many teeth as possible. Keep in mind that smaller dogs are more prone to dental disease so it’s extra important to take care of and stay on top of their teeth care.

Why is it so important to have my pets teeth cleaned?

Gums and teeth aren’t the only thing affected when there’s a problem in the mouth…the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, and joints may also be infected when dental disease is involved. The tartar and any infected areas of the mouth contain a multitude of bacteria that can “seed” to other parts of the body. With regular dental care, you can prevent some of these more serious side effects in your pet. Not only is it better for their health, it’s also better for your wallet. If ignored, your pets dental will be much more than just a cleaning and polishing. There might be things such as x-rays, extractions, pain medications, antibiotics, etc.

My pet needs a dental cleaning by my veterinarian. What does that entail?

Pre-dental blood work is always recommended given that pets have to be anesthetized to do any and all dental work. This will check on the overall health of your pet and lets us know that their liver, kidneys and blood counts are within normal ranges and reduces any risks possible prior to the anesthesia.

Your pet will be fasted from the evening before the anesthesia, however water is ok to give them. The cleaning itself is similar to that of humans – tartar removal, checking for cavities, gingival (gum) pockets, loose teeth, any growths on the gums or palate, removal of diseased teeth, and finally, polishing. The polishing is to smooth the tooth after tartar removal, as the tartar pits the tooth. A smooth tooth will not encourage tartar formation as easily as a roughened tooth.

Having good dental health improves the overall health of your pet and many pets live longer, happier lives.


I Have a New Pet! Now What – Part 3, Exotic Pet Vaccines

Friday, February 7th, 2014

This is the third and last post in the vaccine series and it has to do with exotic pet vaccines. Unlike dogs and cats, most exotic pets don’t need vaccines.  One pet that does need vaccines are ferrets. The need to be treated against canine distemper and rabies.

Ferrets are very susceptible to the distemper virus of dogs and catch it the same way dogs do; by exposure to another animal that has the disease by sneeze or cough.

Ferrets that catch the disease will become depressed. They will also develop a rash on the skin, nasal and eye discharge and eventually nerve degeneration. It’s very important to vaccinate because there is no treatment for this disease in ferrets.

Ferrets should have the first vaccine at 6-8 weeks of age and another booster vaccine at 10-12 weeks. Some veterinarians also give a third vaccine at 14-16 weeks. After that, it should be updated every year.

Ferrets should and are required by law (depending on state regulations) every year to be vaccinated for rabies. They can be affected by the disease the same way a cat or dog can be.

Here is a list of exotic pets that one might have that do not need vaccinations in the US.

  • Rabbits
  • Any and all reptiles
  • Any and all amphibians
  • birds
  • guinea pigs/hamsters
  • pigs
  • hedgehogs

I have a new pet! Now What? Part 2 – Cat Vaccines

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

This is the second post in the 3 part series for animal vaccinations. In our last post we covered dog vaccines and the next post will be on exotic pet vaccines.

A lot of people might think that since their cat is “strictly an indoor cat” that there is no need for vaccinations. This is most certainly not the case. They, just like all of your other household (including strictly outdoor) pets need to be protected against diseases. Here are the most common feline vaccines that should be administered.

FVRCP protects again three different viruses; Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus, and Panleukopenia. They can be contracted by cats at any age. Rhinotracheitis is triggered by the common feline herpes virus. Sneezing, a runny nose, and drooling are among common symptoms. Eyes could become mucousy, they may sleep more and eat less than normal. If untreated, it can lead to dehydration, starvation and eventually death. Calcivirus has similar symptoms, affecting respiratory systems and also causing ulcers in the mouth. If left untreated, it can lead to pneumonia. Kitten and senior cats are especially susceptible. Panleukopenia is also known as distemper and is highly contagious between cats. Distemper is so common that nearly all cats –regardless of breed or living situations – will be exposed to it in their lifetime. It’s especially common in kittens who have not been vaccinated against it. Fever, vomiting, and bloody diarrhea are among the common symptoms. This disease progresses rapidly and requires immediate medical attention. Without medical attention from a veterinarian, a cat can die within 12 hours of contracting the disease.

Kittens should receive their first FVRCP vaccine in between 6-8 weeks of age, followed by three booster shots once a month. Adult cats should receive a boosters according to veterinarian recommendations.

FELV (Feline Leukemia) – a disease that only affects cats. FeLV is passed from one cat to another through saliva, blood, and to some extent, urine and feces. It can also be contracted to kittens in utero or through an infected mother’s milk. Exposure to infected cats raises your cat’s risk of contracting feline leukemia, especially for kittens and young adult cats. The FeLV vaccine should be administered when you give the last set of kitten shots (FVRCP) and boostered at veterinarian recommendation.

Rabies – not only is rabies required by law; but it’s very important  to protect both animals and humans from being exposed to rabies through a bite or saliva of a rabid animal. As with dogs, rabies is very dangerous and is non-treatable. Feline rabies vaccine should be given at 12-16 weeks of age and boostered a year later. After the year vaccine, it needs to be boostered every 3 years.   Please note that leaving the United States mainland may alter rabies vaccination needs due to import restrictions.