“Periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats. By 3 years of age most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease” 1
Plaque is a soft, sticky, whitish mat-like film attached to the tooth surface that is formed by colonization of bacteria. Tooth brushing every day can remove plaque from the teeth. Tooth brushing is the gold standard of care to prevent gingivitis and gum disease in humans and pets.
For the busy house hold who does not have time to brush your pets teeth daily, don’t worry, we understand! There are plenty of other options to help prevent plaque and gingivitis for your pet. Here is a list of options to help prevent dental disease in your pet in order of effectiveness:
- Teeth brushing* Gold standard
- Many groomers also offer teeth brushing services!
- DentaHex Oral Care Chews for dogs OR CET Hextra treats for cats.
- Designed to take 1 – 20mins for complete consumption. This allows ample time for the enzymes in the treats to work their magic on the teeth. So to recap.
- Specially formulated diets such as T/D or Healthy Advantage Oral Care made by Hills (can also be used as treats!)
- Drinking water additives or mouth rinses
- Over the counter dental treats
- Only mildly helpful due to the speed they are consumed.
Gingivitis is the inflammation of the gum tissue. This can be caused by plaque and tartar build up around the gum line. If you have ever brushed yours or your pet’s teeth and noticed some blood in the saliva it was because of gingivitis. Gingivitis is the beginning of periodontal disease. Gingivitis can be prevented with good, at home dental care and attention.
Periodontitis is advanced gingivitis that threatens tooth viability.
Tartar/Calculus is hard yellowish to brownish-black deposit on teeth formed through mineralization of dead bacteria, dental plaque and the salts in salivary secretions. This when an anesthetized dental cleaning is warranted. No amount of brushing, flossing, special treats, foods or mouth washes will remove tartar and calculus. It is as hard as a rock and must be carefully and surgically scraped off with proper equipment so as to not damage the underlying tooth and enamel.
Periodontal Disease is graded 1 – 4. 1
Grade 1 – plaque and calculus are present causing gingivitis. Reversible with proper anesthetized veterinary dental cleaning
Grade 2 – Early periodontitis. Mild to moderate plaque and calculus, partial loss of gums and bone. Teeth may be able to be saved if treatment is pursued and quickly!
Grade 3 – Moderate periodontitis with moderate to significant plaque and calculus. Progressive destruction of the gum and bone. Teeth may need to be extracted. The pet’s mouth is sore and may cause eating or behavior problems.
Grade 4 – Advanced periodontitis with significant plaque and calculus. The pet’s mouth is painful and chronic bacterial infection is destroying the gum, teeth and bone. The bacteria can also spread to the blood stream and begin to colonize other organs such as kidneys, liver and heart. This is called bacterial translocation and endocarditis. Significant tooth loss is expected during a dental procedure.
If your veterinarian recommends a dental cleaning for your pet it is because we have found gingivitis, plaque and/or tartar and we are trying to prevent periodontitis and tooth loss. We want to intervene at grades 1 – 2 so we can prevent 3 and 4.
Do not be fooled by the “awake dental cleanings” that some facilities may offer. This type of dental cleaning is glorified teeth brushing. I think it is very helpful in prevention of dental disease but it does NOT replace a thorough veterinary oral exam and anesthetized dental cleaning procedure. For those owners who have reservations about general anesthesia we understand your concerns but we ask you not to worry. A veterinarian will not recommend a dental cleaning to you if they think there is a reason that your pet would not be a good anesthetic candidate.
At Deerfield Veterinary Hospital we offer the highest standard of care for your pet’s dental experience. All pets are under general anesthesia so every individual tooth can be assessed properly. We have special dental radiology equipment so we can visualize tooth root and bones to help aid in the assessment of tooth viability. Once all the teeth are cleaned and assessed, we will surgically and carefully remove any teeth that need to be removed and close up the defects that are left behind to expedite recovery and facilitate a pain free healing process. We have the same dental equipment that you would find in your own human dental office. We also have continuous EKG monitoring, in house blood machines and a dedicated technician to be with your pet for not only the dental cleaning but all the way through recovery and waking. Your pet’s safety and quality of care is our number one concern.
If you have questions or concerns about your pet’s dental health please call to schedule an appointment for a veterinarian to evaluate him/her.
1 – American Veterinary Dental College
The holidays are often a time of coming together with friends and family to celebrate. Keeping your pets safe during the holiday season can be challenging with extra busy schedules and changing routines. The holidays usually increase the accessibility to “Human” food and drinks that may be hazardous to your pets.
Did you know that in addition to food dangers Christmas trees, lights, ornaments, wrapping paper, and other decorations all can also be hazardous to your dogs and cats? Not to worry, though. Below are some often overlooked simple techniques to better pet proof your home for the holidays. Awareness of these potential hazards will make it easier to prevent them as you go.
How to protect your pets from their new “Christmas Tree” toy.
If your dog or cat is fascinated with your Christmas tree and won’t leave it alone, you might consider placing it in a corner where they will have less access to it. If that isn’t an option or they still won’t leave it alone, you may want to place a small wind chime or a similar noise maker on the bottom of your tree so there will be an audible alarm when your pet goes for the tree. This will at least allow you to react quickly and better monitor their behavior so you can redirect them or just make sure they don’t damage the tree or hurt themselves. Another idea is to place a pet playpen fence around your tree to block them from getting to the tree. This might be a good solution while you aren’t celebrating Christmas directly or are away from home with your pets home alone.
Consider not putting lights near the bottom of the tree within your pet’s reach. Dogs and cats have been known to chew Christmas lights and electrical cords.
Pets occasionally eat tinsel which can cause intestinal blockages. These situations usually require surgery to resolve.
Live Christmas trees present a different hazard than artificial trees in that they require water. This standing water in the tree stand can be toxic as it often mixes with harmful sap or contains poisonous fertilizers. To reduce this risk, cover the water reservoir. You can make a shroud out of aluminum foil and cover the reservoir like you would cover a bowl, taking care to work the foil tightly around the base of the tree.
Cats and dogs sometimes view decorative ornaments as toys to be played with and chewed on. As you can imagine, this leads to choking, intestinal blockages, injured paws, and mouths. Hang more pet-friendly ornaments on the bottom of the tree and put the more dangerous ones high up on the tree if possible.
Poinsettia, holly, and mistletoe plants are considered poisonous to cats and dogs. Putting these plants up high out of your pets reach is suggested.
Remember dogs and cats have an amazing sense of smell. When you hang food decorations on your tree such as gingerbread ornaments or popcorn on a string, they will smell it and be attracted to it.
Has your dog or cat ever knocked something off a table with their tail or nose? Lit candles can easily cause a fire when knocked over so it’s a good idea to place them on high shelves out of reach of your pets.
Lastly, when wrapping gifts, keep in mind that dogs and some cats find the wrapping paper, bows, tape, and other wrapping decorations fun to chew on. As with the other Christmas decorations mentioned above, ingesting any of these items can lead to vomiting and/or intestinal blockages
With these tips and techniques in mind, you can make this the best holiday season ever for your entire family!
For more information on foods to protect your pets from this holiday season, check out our previous blog article on holiday safety tips for pet owners.
All of us at Deerfield Vet want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Thank you for making this another great year by allowing us the privilege of caring for your pets.
Did you realize that 62% of dogs between 8 and 13 years of age have arthritis? And that 20% of all cats have x-ray evidence of arthritis? Some orthopedists believe that osteoarthritis disease (OAD) in dogs is caused by an anatomical defect that places abnormal stress on the joints. Wear and tear arthritis tends to occur in cats much as it does in people. No matter the cause of OAD, alleviating pain is the primary concern. OAD pain signs can include limping, difficulty jumping, sitting or squatting to eliminate, stiffness, reluctance to navigate stairs and overall behavior change. If your pet is demonstrating any of these signs as it ages, it may be time for life improving OAD therapy.
Think of OAD therapy as a triangle. Each leg of the triangle represents one mode of therapy: chondroprotectants, NSAIDs (Non Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs) and adjuvant pain relievers. The inner area encompassed by the triangle legs represents weight management which is often a too overlooked part of arthritis control.
Chondroprotectants are substances while help protect cartilage. Joint fluid and cartilage act as shock absorbers for bones. Chondroprotectants help maintain cartilage integrity and help increase joint fluid viscosity. There is only one injectable FDA approved chondroprotectant. All others are nutraceuticals such as glucosamine or dietary supplements some of which are incorporated into the food. There is a wide variation of efficacy in these substances so please consult with your veterinarian about their use.
The next triangle leg is the NSAIDs- the largest group and mainstay of OAD treatment. NSAIDs block the cyclo-oxygenase (COX) pathway. The COX pathway is responsible for prostaglandin production. There are two primary COX pathways- COX 1 & COX 2. The COX 1 pathway synthesizes beneficial, “housekeeping” prostaglandins that aid in maintaining gastrointestinal mucosa, kidney blood flow and platelet aggregation which helps blood clot. COX 1 is known as the “good COX”. The COX 2 pathway produces inflammatory prostaglandins which cause inflammation and pain. Some inflammation is good and helps the body repair damage, but chronic inflammation isn’t beneficial to the body. COX 2 is “the bad COX”. The newer, more potent NSAIDs inhibit the COX 2 pathway while mostly sparing the COX 1 pathway making these new class of drugs much safer. Aspirin and corticosteroids work by inhibiting both the COX 1 and the COX 2 pathways. Aspirin’s action of interfering with gastric protection prostaglandins predisposes dogs and people to gastrointestinal ulceration. This side effect is rarely seen with the selective COX 2 inhibitor NSAIDs such as Rimadyl, Deramaxx, Metacam and Previcox. There are side effects associated with this group of drugs so your pet will need to have periodic, monitoring bloodwork done. I also recommend doing baseline bloodwork prior to initiating therapy since often we are using these drugs in our older patients which may have other, underlying, hidden health issues.
A reminder note: In general, NSAIDs are toxic to cats. NSAIDs such as Tylenol (Acetaminophen) and Advil (Ibuprofen) can induce fatal liver failure in your cat. NEVER give your cat NSAIDs.
The third leg of the OAD treatment triangle is pain relievers other than NSAIDS. Narcotic and narcotic-like drugs represent a large portion of this group. These drugs make up the mainstay of OAD control for cats. Unlike NSAIDs, narcotics can be used safely in cats under close supervision of a veterinarian. In canine patients, adding a narcotic or narcotic like drug into the treatment regimen along with the NSAIDs will allow us to use the lowest NSAID dose possible. Lowering the NSAID dose reduces the potential side effects of the NSAID. Moreover, many dogs with severe OAD require this multi-modal pain relief therapy to achieve pain control. A common drug now used to treat the pain of canine OAD is tramadol. Many of you know this drug as Ultram.
Lastly, weight management is the overall key to controlling OAD. That is why it is represented as the center of the triangle. Additional body weight stresses joints. A higher fiber, low fat diet will help your pet lose weight, decrease joint pain and hopefully decrease the overall doses of medication needed. Weight loss will also help your pet move more easily and this in turn will aid you with implementing a moderate exercise plan. Regular controlled exercise can improve joint mobility and strengthen supporting muscles which can improve your pet’s quality of life. Physical therapy is a new and upcoming area of treatment for patients with OAD.
In order to help promote awareness to Heartworm disease, here are some interesting facts:
- It only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to spread heartworm disease.
- Heartworm disease is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the United States and many other parts of the world. It is caused by foot-long worms (heartworms) that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets, causing severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in the body.
- Heartworm disease affects dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, sea lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild species such as foxes and coyotes live in proximity to many urban areas, they are considered important carriers of the disease.
- More than a million pets in the United States have heartworm disease.
- Heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 states.
- Both indoor and outdoor pets are at risk of developing heartworm disease because infected mosquitoes can come inside.
- Dogs can harbor several hundred worms in their body whereas cats typically just have one to three worms and many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms.
- There is no approved treatment for heartworm disease in cats, but supportive care can help manage complications.
- Once mature, heartworms can live up to 7 years in a dog.
- It takes at least 6 months for a dog to test positive after it has been infected with heartworms. This is why annual testing is recommended for earliest detection of the disease.
- Once tested positive, a dog must be kept in strict confinement and have restricted activity for a period of 5-6 months during and after treatment of heartworm disease to try and decrease potential complications associated with eliminating adult heartworms.
- Prevention is safe, effective, and cost effective.
- You can buy 7 years of heartworm prevention for less than the cost of treating your dog one time for heartworms.
- To date, the national average is one out of every 73 dogs will test positive for heartworm disease.
- One out of 56 dogs tested positive for heartworm disease in Greene County, MO thus far for 2016.
- Deerfield Veterinary Hospital in Springfield Missouri has diagnosed 7 heartworm positive dogs since January 2015, however we have a higher compliance rate of dogs receiving monthly preventative than compared to more rural areas. More rural areas can have as many as one heartworm positive dog diagnosed each week.
- Preventatives work by killing the microfilaria and early larval stages of heartworms that your pet has picked up the previous month. If you stop giving it in the fall or early winter, the parasites might remain and cause infection.
- Adult dogs over 7 months of age and previously not on a preventive need to be tested prior to starting heartworm prevention.
- Annual testing is necessary, even when dogs are on heartworm prevention year-round, to ensure that the prevention program is working. Heartworm medications are highly effective, but dogs can still become infected. If you miss just one dose of a monthly medication-or give it late-it can leave your dog unprotected. Even if you give medication as recommended, your dog may spit out or vomit a heartworm pill-or rub off topical medication. Heartworm preventatives are highly effective, but not 100 percent effective. If you don’t get your dog tested , you won’t know your dog needs treatment.
- There are three different types of preventative available for use to protect your pet: once-a-month chewable, once-a-month topical, or twice-a-year injection.
- There is only one drug approved by the FDA for treatment of heartworm disease called melarsomine and it is administered by injection only by a veterinarian. Additional medications may be prescribed by your veterinarian to help improve the chances of treatment success and reduce the incidence of side effects associated with the death of adult heartworms.
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Remember to “Think 12.” Test for heartworm disease every 12 months and give heartworm preventative 12 months a year. Deerfield Veterinary Hospital offers a variety of preventatives to help protect your pet. Let us help you decide which preventative is best for your pet, lifestyle, and budget.
The information used for this blog was obtained from the American Heartworm Society website, Companion Animal Parasite Council website, and medical records from Deerfield Veterinary Hospital. For more information about heartworm disease, please visit the American Heartworm Society’s website at https://www.heartwormsociety.org/ and the Companion Animal Parasite Council’s website at http://www.capcvet.org/.
Vets in Springfield know ticks are becoming an increasingly worrisome problem as average temperatures rise yearly and as white tail deer population increase. The lack of a really cold winter means that ticks do not die off completely as they otherwise would during prolonged freezing temperatures. Ticks are usually in wooded areas or un-kept grassy areas where wildlife live or frequent. Ticks are most active between April and July but this time frame is becoming longer each year.
Ticks will hang out over the edge of grass, leaves or brush and when they sense exhaled carbon dioxide, body odors, vibrations and light changes of passers-by they will extend their front pair of hook-like legs and catch on to their prey. This is called questing.
Tick eggs hatch into 6-legged larvae called seed ticks. After it has its first meal, which is usually a small rodent, it drops off and molts into an 8-legged nymph. It then attaches and feeds from a second host and then drops again and transforms into an 8-legged adult. After that they feed and mate then die. When the female dies thousands of eggs are released into the environment.
Ticks transmit diseases to dogs, cats and humans. They do not discriminate. A tick on your dog is a health threat to your entire family.
The most common ticks in Springfield Missouri.
The American dog tick (Dermacentor variabilis)
Description: Newly hatched larvae are yellow, adults are brown and blood engorged females are grey
Vector of: Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and tularemia (Rabbit fever). Less likely is Lyme disease, Anaplasmosis and Ehrlichia. They can also cause tick paralysis. This is when a neurotoxin transmitted from the tick as it feeds enters the blood stream and can cause muscle weakness and paralysis.
The Black legged tick/Deer tick (Ixodes scapularis)
Description: Legs and upper body are all black/dark brown. It loves to parasitize white tail deer, lizards, mice, birds, etc. as well as humans, dogs and cats.
Vector of: Lyme disease, Babesiosis, Anaplasmosis, Powassan virus.
The Lone Star Tick (Amblyomma americanum)
Description: Females have a white dot in the center of the back. Males have white dots or white streaks along the edge of their bodies
Vector of: Ehrilichia/Sennetsue Fever, Tularemia, southern tick-associated rash illness, in rare cases Lyme disease, tick fever, heartland virus, meat allergy. Cat specific disease called Cytauxzoon felis (Bobcat fever)
Tick Related Illnesses
If you or a family member or your pet has known tick exposure and you experience any of the following symptoms then call a doctor to seek immediate treatment. Early intervention tickborne illness cases can make a difference in the prognosis.
Table of Tick Borne Illnesses