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Fear Free – Pet Grooming & Animal Hospital Visits

Fear Free – Pet Grooming & Animal Hospital Visits

Pet Grooming & Animal Hospital – Fear is a behavior in all of us that is a hardwired response caused by the belief that someone or something is dangerous, likely to cause pain or a threat.  Unfortunately, being afraid or fearful of a veterinary examination or procedure has become the new “normal” or something most pet owners come to expect. 

Pet Grooming & Animal Hospital

Pet Grooming & Animal Hospital

In a recent study by Bayer Veterinary Healthcare 26% of dog owners and 38% of cat owners said that just thinking about going to the vet was stressful.

Any time your pet feels threatened, real or imagined, changes occur immediately within his or her body to prepare for that hardwired response call fight or flight.  Your pet’s nervous system releases a variety of stress hormones that have profound effects on different systems in the body.  Acute or sudden stress may result in fatigue, hypertension, gastrointestinal distress, immune dysfunction and impaired disease resistance.  Chronic stress can even lead to structural and functional changes in the brain, and, when extreme conditions persist, permanent damage can result.  In addition, when your pet is under stress, the memories of any events occurring during that time will be very powerful, and how your pet is handled during veterinary visits may have long-standing consequences for our future ability to handle him or her.

We may not change your pet’s behavior during their next veterinary visit but our team with your help will be watching your pet for subtle signs of fear or anxiety.  Anything we do to relieve the stress of the visit will pay off in future visits being less difficult for your pet. Remember that frequent, distressing experiences can negatively impact an animal’s overall health and well-being.   Also, by continuing with a procedure when an animal is showing signs of anxiety, we are teaching the animal that its normal means of communication is meaningless.  If we identify signs of fear, especially during elective procedures, we may reschedule your pet’s visit when it is less stressed.  Future visits could include giving medications to decrease anxiety or training sessions that make your next visit more productive and even fun!
4 Simple Steps to a Fear Free Pet Grooming & Animal Hospital Visit at Deerfield Veterinary Hospital

  1. Plan frequent visits to our veterinary practice just for fun, especially if your pet is fearful.  It’s best for you to visit during a quiet part of the day, such as mid-afternoons.   Call our practice and check to see if it’s a good, relaxing time so your pet enjoys a calm experience and the veterinary team can focus on you and your pet.
  2. Meet our caring team.  You can stop by to greet our receptionist, who can serve up a tasty treat for your pet. Our highly trained veterinary team can even perform a training session in an exam room to create fun, friendly associations with the practice.
  3. Keep it fun. Plan your practice visits in low-stress situations before your pet needs care by visiting our parking lot, lobby and exam room so they’re familiar places. Use play and trick training  to make the experience full of pleasurable activities. Your pet will learn to associate good things with the veterinary hospital. Rather than being afraid, they learn to relax.
  4. Talk to us.   We’re here to help. Our veterinary team looks forward to working with you to create a better visit with your dog or cat. If you need extra help to prepare for a visit, please call us and we can offer guidance to make visits relaxing and fun.

Download the Pet Grooming & Animal Hospital Infographic – click here

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Healthy Pets & Healthy Teeth Go Paw in Paw

February was National Pet Dental Health Month, but your furry friend’s oral health should be a priority all year long! According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 70% of cats and 80% of dogs have oral disease by 3 years of age.

Springfield MO veterinarian Dr. Denise Roche provides pet dental care at Deerfield.

Merle Waggard here knows smart puppies start brushing early to guard against dental disease.

Dr. Denise Roche, a Springfield, Mo veterinarian, and the Deerfield staff want to remind you good oral hygiene is crucial for the overall health of your lovable four-legged companion. In fact, periodontal infections in dogs or cats cause far worse than bad breath. Such infections can spread harmful bacteria to the heart, liver, and kidneys. To avoid those life-threatening consequences, pet owners can take precautions against two especially common issues that will eventually leave pets at risk for dental disease: gingivitis and periodontitis.

Gingivitis in dogs and cats occurs when plaque along the gum causes inflammation. Without regular cleaning, the teeth and gums develop a thin film of protein—from food, saliva, and dead cells—that leads to bacterial plaque build-up. Left untreated, gingivitis will escalate to periodontitis, an irreversible but controllable infection. Periodontitis develops when deposits of calcium salts react with bacterial plaque, forming a hard brown or yellow tartar, which leads to inflammation, infection of the deeper tissues, bleeding gums, and eventual tooth loss if not treated by your veterinarian.

How Do I Know if My Pet Has Dental Disease?

Let’s hope your pet’s teeth and gums are tip-top. Better yet, let’s help you guard against the dreaded dental disease. This handy checklist should make it nice and easy to knowledgeably check your pet’s teeth at least once a week:

  • Bad breath is bad news for more than just your own nose, especially if it returns within one or two months of a professional cleaning.
  • Broken or discolored teeth should sound the alarm.
  • Red or swollen gums is a sure sign of irritation.
  • Keep your eyes peeled for bleeding in your pal’s dishes or on chew toys.
  • Lumps or bumps in or around the mouth, especially swelling on one side, are cause for concern.
  • Listen for chattering jaws when eating.

Changes in feeding and chewing behavior can also indicate a problem. If your pet turns away from food, paws at the mouth, drools excessively, or resists having its teeth brushed, it’s time to see your Deerfield vet.

How Is Dental Disease Treated?

A professional cleaning can help reverse, or stop the progression of, oral disease. Should your pet require gingival surgery or tooth extractions, we’ll perform the procedure during the dental cleaning to avoid multiple uses of anesthetics. Feline or canine tooth extraction is not fun for you nor your pet, but sometimes it’s the best option for avoiding further damage from periodontal disease.

How Can I Protect My Pet from Dental Disease?

Proactive care, including regular preventive cleanings and good hygiene at home, can help prevent oral disease in your dog or cat.

Pet Dental Care at Deerfield

Your Deerfield vet can remove bacteria that attack your pet’s gum line. General anesthesia is required for both dog and cat dental cleanings, and safety precautions include pre-surgical blood work on older pets as well as monitoring EKGs and oxygen levels. After polishing your friend’s teeth, we’ll walk you through all you need to know for excellent at-home care.

Pet Dental Care at Home

Good oral hygiene at home is as important for your cat or dog as it is for you, and it begins with a consistent brushing routine. You can remove harmful plaque by brushing your pet’s teeth either daily or every other day. Here’s how:

  • First of all, be both gentle and persistent. Chances are you know from experience that brushing your pet’s teeth can prove challenging, but your patient determination is an act of love.
  • Never use human toothpaste on animals, as it can upset your pet’s stomach. Your Deerfield vet can help you choose a toothpaste your pet will enjoy—yes, actually enjoy. A good pet toothpaste is non-foaming and comes in flavors that are appealing to dogs and cats. Introduce the toothpaste by using it as a treat, placing it on your finger as a reward.
  • Ask us about toothbrushes designed especially for dogs and cats. Once your furry friend accepts brushing movements with your finger, switch to a small, soft-bristled toothbrush. Pointing the bristles at about a 45-degree angle to your pet’s teeth, use small circular strokes and focus on the outside of the teeth.

If your pet resists the at-home dental cleaning at any point, never outmuscle it to force the brushing. The animal may not recognize your concern and could instinctively bite due to fear of the toothbrush. You may also use a soft, clean piece of gauze. If your pet is unable to accept toothbrushing, which does happen sometimes, your Deerfield vet can recommend effective toys, treats, chews, and pet foods that aid your dental cleaning efforts at home. Another option is to choose gels, rinses, or sprays that promote oral health in both cats and dogs.

Tartar removers should always bear the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval, so you can be confident they’re safe for your pet. Visit the VOHC website for a list of approved products like the popular Greenie chew. Finally, ask your Deerfield veterinarian about nutritional options we recommend to promote healthy teeth, such as Hills Prescription Diet T/D.

National Pet Dental Health Month makes February a busy time at Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, and it was great to see so many pets for their dental checkups. Now that the month has past, we want to remind pet owners to keep that loving attention to dental care going strong throughout the year. With consistent hygiene at home and regular cleanings, your pet will enjoy clean teeth and better overall health for years to come!

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Safe & Happy Holidays for Your Pets: Tips from a Concerned Veterinarian in Springfield, MO

To help protect your loyal companions, let’s revisit safety tips on common risks that arise for pets during the holiday season.

A favorite of our veterinary hospital in Springfield, MO, Keira loved snow.

Many dogs love to play in the snow, like Keira here,
but even the biggest, wooliest pets are at risk when left outside unsupervised.


 
Chances are your beloved pets land right near the top of your 2014 Reasons to be Thankful list. We know our staff’s pets leave us all endlessly thankful. With a total of 11 dogs, nine cats, two fish, and one rabbit (among our many families, of course!), we have a bunch of cuddle buddies to keep us grateful. Along with all the smiles, pets come with a heap of responsibilities. That’s especially important to remember during the revelry and hustle and bustle of the holidays.

So you can give your pets the gift of Safe & Happy Holidays, we’ve put together the following set of useful pet safety tips.

Pet Stress

All those family get-togethers in November and December can, at times, be downright overwhelming for people — and humans at least know when and why our daily routines will be tossed aside. Just imagine the stress pets feel with all that chaos invading their homes without warning! To help your dogs or cats cope, designate a cozy, peaceful place they can escape to for some much-needed quiet time. Keep that spot stocked with food, water, and their favorite toys. We also recommend spending snuggle time together there in advance, so your pet knows the safe zone is a reward, not a punishment.

As your trusted veterinarian in Springfield, MO, we have one last important Pet Stress tip for you: Remember to join your buddy for a quick visit to the safe zone when you need it! Sneaking away to pet your pet for a few minutes will trigger endorphins for you both, helping your pet relax and helping you find your inner happy place. We find that helps people remember how thankful they are to be hosting the big family dinner.

People Food

Special treats are terrific rewards for pets, and we’re all for including every member of the family in the feasting — if done safely. It’s easy to indulge your pleading pet without risking harm or even death. Simply reserve the people food for people and stock up on safe yet tasty treats for the four-legged folk.

“Yeah, but what’s the big harm in sharing leftovers with pets?,” you ask. The risks are very real. Older pets are at particular risk with any uninformed guests around. Conditions like diabetes and chronic kidney disease in dogs and cats require crucial diet restrictions that many people don’t know about. If your pet has similar health issues, be sure to let guests know it’s just plain dangerous to share people food.

Here are just a few foods, as listed on the American Humane Association (AHA) website, that pose a threat to animals if not disposed of properly:

  • Chocolate can be deadly; it can also damage the heart as well as the central nervous system and urinary system. Like Dr. Ned warned last year, don’t forget pets can easily sniff out and unwrap gifts of chocolate, so keep those and other edible gifts put away.
  • Bones can cause deadly damage by tearing your pet’s intestines.
  • Onions from turkey stuffing can cause anemia in dogs.
  • Grapes can cause kidney failure.

Cocktails, beer, and wine are dangerous for pets too, so be mindful to keep an eye on your glass when sipping a drink.

All That Glitters

Among those who celebrate Christmas, who doesn’t enjoy the shimmer and sparkle of a beautifully adorned tree? Not many. You know who really finds your Christmas tree irresistible? The cat and the dog. With all that shiny tinsel and the glittery ornaments, not to mention the pretty ribbons on gifts, the towering tree is downright taunting your pets. And they may very well retaliate if you’re not watching. It may seem like such a scene would be comical to see, like in the classic Christmas Vacation flick. In the real world, though, the outcome can be far from funny if a pet tangles with the tree or other decorations.

Here are a few important precautions — again, as noted on the AHA site—to take when decorating:

  • Keep pets away from the tree water, which is often full of bacteria and/or poisons from preservatives used on the tree.
  • Ensure the tree is stable, so it won’t fall if a pet jumps on it.
  • Place any tinsel, ribbon, or breakable ornaments toward the top of the tree or on tall shelves, so pets can’t reach the would-be “toys” and risk swallowing them. Many pets have choked on these decorations or have needed surgery to remove obstructions once swallowed.
  • Sweep, sweep, sweep those pine needles and any leaves from other holiday plants. Curious pets don’t know that pine needles and many leaves are full of toxins.

 

Oh, The Weather Outside is Frightful

Of course you love your pets too much to ever leave them out in the cold on purpose. But with all the shopping, cooking, gift wrapping, visiting, peacekeeping, and general preparing you have to do this time of year, the ol’ short-term memory can be taxed to capacity. That can lead to absent-minded accidents that put your pets at risk. To take proactive steps against that, you can use handy little tricks that remind you to check on your pet before leaving the house. Here are two tricks we suggest: Keep your keys next to a picture of your pet or leave a note on the door you regularly exit. Those reminders are simple but effective.

For additional tips on keeping your pets safe during the holidays, brush up on Dr. Ned’s 2013 Holiday Safety Tips, which still hold true. If your pet should fall victim to any risks that arise during the holidays, immediately contact your veterinarian or call the Animal Poison Control Center at 888.426.4435.

Finally, on behalf of everyone at Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, here’s wishing you and yours love, laughter, and lots of snuggle time throughout the season.

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Summer Heat Hits The Ozarks – Pet Heat Stroke Tips

Summer temperatures might be great for tan lines and boating trips, but the excessive heat and increased outdoor activities could spell disaster for your pets.  As the mercury rises, take just a few moments to insure that your pets are safe and prevent an urgent trip to the animal ER with a summertime emergency!

The most common heat related problem for pets is heat stroke.  Also known as heat stress or hyperpyrexia, heat stroke is a real emergency for dogs.  Even on moderately warm days, an excited dog might show a body temperature increase of 2-5 degrees Fahrenheit.  Since dogs don’t sweat like we do, they are unable to dissipate the excess heat and heat stroke may soon follow.

Any outdoor pet can overheat on a warm summer day, but short faced breeds, such as Pugs and Bulldogs, are at a higher risk.  In addition, every year thousands of pets succumb to heat stroke because they were left in cars while their owners ran “just a few” errands.

Many cities and states have now made it a crime to leave your pet unattended in a vehicle.  These are important laws as even on a 70 degree day, temperatures inside a car can soar to over 110 degrees in less than one hour!

Some owners try to help their pets by shaving the dog’s long coat.  Although this seems like a good idea, a well groomed and clean hair coat can actually insulate the dog from the heat and help keep them cooler.

Veterinarians will recommend shaving specific areas in long haired breeds.  For example, shaving around the anus and groin can help keep the area clean and free from infections.

In some cases, shaving the hair coat could expose a lightly pigmented dog to potential sunburn.  For short haired lightly colored breeds, Canine solar dermatitis is another problem.  Boxers, Pit Bulls and Dalmatians are just a few examples of dogs that are at risk.  In these cases, chronic exposure to hot sunny days damages the skin and causes tender, red scaly lesions.  Eventually, the skin becomes thickened and scarred.

When the sun goes down and the temperatures start to cool, your pets still face many summer challenges.  The patriotic holidays during the summer months are often preceded by and celebrated with fireworks.  The bright flashes and loud bangs are terrifying to some pets and can cause anxiety, stress and even escape.

Likewise, some pets react in a similar way to thunderstorms.  Normally calm pets may become distressed, destructive and even bite in an attempt to get away from the noises.  While running, they are at risk for being hit by a car, becoming lost or encountering another animal who might be aggressive.

The warm summer season also brings out a many pests that will actively seek out your pets.  Fleas and ticks are two examples, but some species of biting flies are very fond of dogs’ ears.  Repeated bites can cause a condition that can be serious and difficult to control known as “fly strike”.

It is possible to enjoy the summer with your pets by taking just a few precautions.  First and foremost, always be aware of the weather forecast.  Knowing the high temperature can help guide your plans for the day.

Don’t leave your pet unattended outside or plan heavy exercise on hot, humid days.  If your pet is left outdoors, he must have access to adequate shade and fresh water.

When it’s time to run errands, leave your pet at home.  Even a few minutes in a hot car is enough to increase your pet’s body temperature dramatically.

If you find your pet disoriented, panting excessively or collapsed in the yard, move him immediately to a cooler environment.  Use cool wet towels over his back, armpits and groin to help bring his temperature down.  Fans are often helpful too.  DO NOT USE ICE!  Then, get him to your veterinarian immediately so that they can assess his status and begin life saving treatments.

Your veterinarian is also a good source of advice for products that will kill fleas and ticks.  Some veterinarians also carry an insecticide gel that repel biting flies

If you are planning to take your pets to any outdoor celebrations or cook-outs, find out first if pets are welcome or if fireworks are planned.  It might be easier to simply leave the dogs at home rather than risk a run-away or injury.

Most national parks allow pets, but rules vary by park and of course your pets must be on a leash at all times.  Check ahead on the parks you plan to visit.

Summertime should be a time for relaxation and fun…don’t let a pet emergency spoil your good time.

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Pet Dental Health

Dental care in pets is necessary to provide optimal health and quality of life. Poor dental hygiene leads to diseases of the oral cavity,  and if left untreated, are often painful and can contribute to other local or systemic diseases.

Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care. Approximately 80% of all dogs and cats have periodontal disease by the time they are only two years old. Dental disease affects much more than fresh breath. It frequently leads to more serious health problems such as liver, kidney and heart disease. That’s why we’re  not just treating dental disease, but taking new steps to prevent it. A major step in this process is encouraging our owners to participate in their pet’s oral health at home.

Periodontal disease in pets is the same as it is in people. It’s a sneaky and insidious process that begins when bacteria in the mouth attach to the teeth and produce a film called “plaque”. When the bacteria die, they are calcified into “calculus” commonly known as tartar which makes a rough surface for even more bacteria to stick to. In the beginning, plaque is soft and can easily be removed by brushing or chewing on appropriate toys or treats. But if left to spread, plaque leads to gum inflammation (called “gingivitis”) and infection. Eventually, the infection spreads to the tooth root and even the jaw bone itself – causing pain and tooth loss.

Examining a dog or cat’s mouth can be compared to opening a Christmas present. Inspecting the outside of the box may give you a hunch about the contents, but until you completely unwrap it, you’ll never really know what’s inside.  In the same way peeling away the wrapping paper and packing material brings a present into the light of day, our new dental radiology equipment allows us the opportunity to look beyond the obvious and better examine teeth and their supporting structures below the gum line – exposing hidden, and often undiagnosed, problems.

The American Animal Hospital Association has devised guidelines for veterinarians in order to highlight the need for more professional oral hygiene care for pets. The organization stressed the necessity of going beyond the traditional “scraping the surface” of routine dental cleanings, known as “prophies”. We are encouraged to teach owners the importance of good oral hygiene when puppies and kittens are only a few months old in order to begin a lifetime of healthy benefits.

Research proves that unchecked dental disease can be the root of other problems.  In a 2009 study at Purdue’s School of Veterinary Medicine, researchers have discovered significant associations between the severity of periodontal disease and the risk of cardiovascular-related conditions, such as endocarditis and cardiomyopathy.

A recent roundtable discussion between veterinary dental experts shed even more light on the impact that good preventative dentistry plays in a pet’s life. They strongly recommend daily dental care for pets and twice yearly mouth exams beginning when puppies and kittens are two months old. And while that schedule may seem too complicated for some pet owners, dental specialists, veterinary supply companies have developed products that will help pet busy owners put some bite into home dental care for their pets.

A recent development that goes beyond good veterinary and at-home care, is the actual prevention of plaque using a barrier sealant gel. This is applied by the veterinarian and continued at home by the pet owner. Called OraVet®, this system is the first method used by veterinarians to create a physical barrier that reduces bacterial plaque adhesion above and under the gum lines. It is applied at home only once a week after the initial hospital application.

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