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. More
Recently, a client asked that I participate in a local disaster preparedness expo. He explained that there was a tremendous amount of information regarding human survival and little if any information for the survival and well being of his beloved family pets. After the tragedy and adversity that our neighbors in Joplin have recently endured, I agreed to participate. I have relied upon personal experience and summarized some notable information from both the ASPCA and FEMA.
Effectively preparing for a disaster requires anticipation and real attention to detail. If there was one goal that I could accomplish, I would like you to start anticipating what you’re next disaster will be like for you, your family and your pets. The more detailed your plan, the better prepared and the greater likelihood you will survive the challenge.
I am not a Disaster Preparedness Expert, just a veterinarian. The closest thing to a natural disaster for my family was the ice storm in the winter of 2007. Like most who live in Southwest Missouri, our family was without electricity for 6 days. Many families endured weeks before power could be restored. The real challenge of this disaster was just keeping warm, because everyone endured single digit temperatures in the days immediately following the storm. Because our home depends upon a well for a source of water, no electricity means no water. Fortunately our business never lost electricity, so we had another location with a supply of the essentials to keep us going. Since then, I have always thought of “Filling the Bath Tub with Water” as an acronym for disaster preparedness because had I filled our bathtubs with water before we lost electricity, I would have spent more time on keeping my home warm, rather than hauling water from our veterinary hospital. The key to preparing for life’s next “ice storms” means anticipating our needs and organizing our supplies and equipment – working out the details – before the disaster occurs.
Borrowing trouble comes more natural to some folks than others, so if you’re not good at that, I want you to start by thinking outside the box, because each type of disaster requires different measures to keep you and your family, and pet’s safe. Will you be able to stay in your home or will you have to evacuate? If you can stay, will you have electricity, running water or food? What will the weather be like? Hot, or cold. Will the roads be safe for travel? Flooded or ice covered.
Because everyone in my extended family lost power and heat, and my house had the only functional wood burning stove, everyone stayed at our house. This included all the beloved pets from a family that inspired me to become a veterinarian. After several days of close living quarters, stoking the fire, and hauling water to flush 4 toilets, my best recollection was my nerves were worn pretty thin – like my father-in-law like to say, “company and fish start to stink after 3 days”. That was the same day the wood stoves door was left open and the flu was still closed filling our house to the rafters with smoke.
Looking back, this was only a minor “hic-up” in a week of Man vs. Wild – Arctic Survival 101, but at the time it was pretty darn aggravating. So what did I learn? Things are going to happen in your survival situation that you just can’t plan for. Plan to adapt. You can’t change the tide, so be ready to “suck it up” and roll with it. Sometimes no amount of preparation will get you completely through the storm. Plato said it best in 400 BC “Necessity is the Mother of Invention.”
Now for the details that could keep your pets out of hot water. I believe this step can be applied to almost any situation. Start your planning with some research, phone calls and record keeping. Keep your research stored in a safe place and keep copies in an evacuation bag with your pet’s essential supplies. For most of us, keeping an accurate record of our house pets is no challenge, but if you have a farm, having an accurate record of your livestock inventory will help you your neighbors track them in a disaster. Record a list of ailments or medical conditions, medications and special foods will help you maintain the health of your animals. Simply contact your veterinarian for a copy of your pet’s medical records. Also collect Names, locations and phone numbers of your veterinarian, kennel and any other caregivers should be at your fingertips. Your veterinarian can help you with a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities. Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster homes for pets and identify hotels or motels inside and outside your immediate area that accept pets. Ask friends and relatives in and outside your area if they would be willing to take in your pet. Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, telephone number, and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier. We recommend micro-chipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted in the animal’s shoulder area, and can be read by scanner at most animal shelters. My last homework assignment is for you to prepare a rescue sticker or sign that can be posted in windows in case you have to evacuate without your pets. These help rescuers workers identify and locate all your pets after the disaster has occurred. If everyone evacuates, write “EVACUATED” across the posted sign, if time allows.
Remember, leaving your pets behind is absolutely the last option. If it’s not safe for you it’s probably not safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape to life-threatening hazards. Not all Red Cross disaster shelters accept pets, so it’s important to have a predetermined shelter for your pets BEFORE the disaster strikes. Our empty veterinary hospital’s kennel filled beyond its brim in the time span of 4 hours on Saturday morning while ice accumulated on trees and power lines. Many of our clients who had not even lost power, were booking hotel rooms in Branson and further south in Arkansas to wait out the worsening weather condition.
The next step is to start carefully considering a designated care-giver before the disaster strikes. Your choice could change depending on your circumstance, so consider and speak with several. Look for someone who is home, when you’re at work so they can watch your pet and even offer swapping shifts watching their pets. Look for someone who lives close to you, a neighbor or family member. Sometimes a long drive in bad weather is not practical. Especially with a pet who doesn’t like to travel in the car. It might be someone you could trust with the keys your home, or someone who is willing to bring your pet into their home. If you don’t ask, you won’t know and don’t just assume like most pet owners that, “everyone just loves my pet, after all, how couldn’t they?” Some people have allergies to pets, and more will be less willing to take on a pet during a stressful situation. Perhaps finding a neighbor or family members who already have pets is your best solution. Last but not least, consider someone as a permanent caregiver in the event something should happen to you.
Now it’s time to gather your emergency supply inventory. Let’s start with the essentials, food and water. Plan for a minimum 7 day supply of both food and water. The food should be rotated in accord with the manufacture expiration dates, but in general, don’t keep dry kibble longer that 2 months. Plan on your pet eating 1 cup or can of food for every 20 lbs of ideal body weight. A 60 pound dog will need 3 cups of dry kibble or 3 cans of dog food every 24 hours. You average size cat will require ½ cup of dry kibble in a day. Store 1 oz of water, for every pound of body weight, every 24 hours. That same 60lb dog will require a half gallon of water in 1 day. Another important item for you list is a pet first aid kit. The ASPCA offers a complete kit $50, and offers a complete list of items at aspca.org. You may want to review the list and add items as needed to your own first aid kit. Depending on your pets pre-existing medical conditions, owner should have a 2 week supply of prescription medication like insulin, anticonvulsants and arthritic pain relievers. These medications should be rotated like food to ensure their effectiveness. Other emergency items should include;
- Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans) for cats.
- Supply of litter or paper towels for cats and pocket pets.
- Liquid dish soap and disinfectant.
- Disposable garbage bags for clean-up.
- Pet feeding dishes.
- Extra collar, harness and leashes.
- Photocopies of medical records
- Recent photos of your pets for identification or lost pet posters.
- Travel bag or pet flight kennel ideally for each pet.
- Head mounted flashlight
- Blankets (pillow cases for cats or pocket pets)
- Chew toys or rawhides
- Evacuation pack for supplies
Some final considerations in the midst of the calamity that I should mention are that animals have instincts about severe weather changes and will often isolate themselves if they are afraid. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home during a crisis. Always bring pets indoors immediately at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. In addition, separate dogs and cats. Even if you dogs and cats normally get along, the anxiety of an emergency situation can cause pets to act irrationally. In the event you take your pets with you, have a plan to pack your vehicle with family members, pet crates and supplies. And remember, if you think you may be gone for only a day; assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. More
The ever growing pet product market ranges from fashion to fun, exercise to IQ puzzles, gourmet pet foods and treats….and everything in between.
These products are available on-line pet specialty sites, at pet boutiques and superstores… even the neighborhood groomer is likely to have a pet product line tempting you.
In considering which new products to purchase, it’s important to evaluate what your pet will enjoy, if the product provides healthy fun activity and the value to your pocketbook. Here’s a look at some innovative products by major categories. And remember this is a very abbreviated list!
EXERCISE AND PLAY products are dually beneficial. Look for pet-engaging toys with healthful options such as the following products:
1) The Hydro Freeze® family of toys. This toy product group provides hours of dog-chewing, fetching fun while simultaneously hydrating the dog. The award winning HydroBone® is now being joined by their new HydroBall® and HydroSaucer®.
2) If your pet needs more exercise than you have time, check out the DogTread® treadmill. It provides great fitness at home, and there will be no more traipsing out in the rain, snow, or mud with Fido!
3) Let your pet go wild with the Bubble Buddy®! This bubble blower, specially designed for dogs, uses SCENTED bubbles…like chicken or bacon! Just sit back…blow the bubbler…and let the dog exercise while chasing those tasty bubbles!
4) For those tough pups, try Kong’s Wubba…specially designed for durability and keeping your pup entertained!
BOREDOM or BEHAVIOR ISSUES can be positively handled if you have the right product.
5) The ThunderShirt® has a calming effect on the pet’s nervous system and has proven successful for that anxious canine, especially during summer storms.
6) Felines are not forgotten either when it comes to good therapeutic products! Cats that suffer from cabin fever, can safely enjoy the outdoors in their Kritter Kondo®. This easy-to- set up enclosure gives the cat a fun way to enjoy the outdoors in a safe environment.
7) A great indoor cat product is the eco-friendly cathouse system®. These cardboard kitty play houses are foldable, stackable and changeable and they provide hours of play fun for indoor cats.
NUTRITION AND FEEDING PRODUCTS. You can even find innovation on the pet food aisle!
8) Award winning and very popular KONG® continues to introduce new toys for dogs and cats. Their new KONG Wobbler® dispenses food while providing entertainment too. And now KONG® has come out with KONG Stuffin’®- a pepperoni-paste filler for the KONG toys!
9) New pet food diets are released almost every week. We strongly advise everyone to consult with your veterinarian to find the right food for your pet!
10) Veterinarians know the importance of fresh water…so much so that a veterinarian invented the fresh-flowing Drinkwell Water Fountain® system for cats and dogs.
11) And grooming has never been easier with products like FURminator®, the ultimate pet shedder too.
TRAVEL & SAFETY PRODUCTS. Today more folks are traveling with their pets, and there are many great travel and safety products available. There’s everything from GPS collars for tracking that wayward pet to cute pet themed totes, safety belts, and of course—haute couture for the pet traveler. Fun travel products are sure to add charm to Fido’s adventures.
With so many new and great pet products in the marketplace, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Key things to look for include: Award winning designations, American- made, Eco-friendly, and of course veterinarian endorsed products. Other important factors to consider when selecting the right products are your pet’s age, agility, and interests.
With a little research on-line or through your veterinarian, you’re sure to become an educated pet product consumer…and a real hero to your pet too! More
Early in my professional career, I was advised to avoid publicly discussing three controversial subject matters; politics, religion and money. Of late, the term “stem cells” could certainly be added to this short list of contentious topics. Weekly, we see news reports and read editorials on the uses of human embryonic stem cells and the moral-ethical questions surrounding the collection of these powerful cells. There are, however, new breakthroughs in the science of regenerative medicine that draw on the use of adult stem cells, harvested not from embryos but from an adult’s own body.
Research now teaches us that stem cells are an important part of a healthy body’s defense and regeneration process. Simply put, we could not thrive without these primitive repair cells. Just as embryonic stem cells have the ability to grow into a completely new human or animal, adult stem cells have the ability to change and differentiate into bone, cartilage, muscle or any tissue in the body. Recently, a detailed study on the use of fat-derived stem cells in dogs showed that animals receiving stem cells demonstrated a significant improvement in lameness when compared to dogs in the control group. In clinical trials, over 80% of pet owners report improvement after therapy. This news has excited veterinarians and pet owners alike and has many asking about the potential for a real world application.
More than 15 million (20%) dogs in North America suffer some form of degenerative joint disease, better known as osteoarthritis (OA). Unfortunately, many dog owners are completely unaware of the pain their pet is experiencing, chalking up the slow movement to the effects of “old age”. Some dogs may receive daily doses of pain relievers and oral joint care supplements. Still others might find their way to physical therapy or rehabilitation. But for some, any or all of these options are not enough to relieve the pain. Sadly, many owners decide to euthanize their faithful companion because of the severity of the pain or the continued high cost of on-going treatment.
Adult stem cell regenerative therapy is now an accepted treatment for OA and is available for both dogs and cats. Deerfield Veterinary Hospital is pleased to be the first veterinary hospital in the Ozarks to offer stem cell therapy. All of this seems pretty miraculous and for some pets, the results are truly nothing short of a life-saving miracle.
If you are trying to decide if stem cell therapy is right for your pet, please consider the following. Not all pets are considered good candidates for this therapy. Since anesthesia is involved in both the cell collection step and the reintroduction of the cells, this may not be ideal for all patients. Additionally, any dog with serious systemic disease, such as cancer, might not benefit from these treatments. Even though there has been great feedback from owners, this is not a one shot therapy. Some pets need to return regularly for follow-up treatments. Scientist report that over-exertion after treatment seems to lessen the benefits of the treatment, often leading to another trip to the veterinarian. Finally, cost will certainly come into play as owners and veterinarians discuss this option. Prices will vary among veterinarians, but in general, plan on spending at least $3000 to $3500 for initial treatments.
Arthritis can be painful and even debilitating in any dog or cat. If you suspect your pet suffers from this disease, talk with us about testing to confirm arthritis and then discuss the many treatment options. We will recommend a multi-modal approach to pain relief, combining appropriate medications, controlled exercise, weight loss, and environmental changes to make your pet’s life easier. In some cases, new technology, like stem cell therapy, can be beneficial!
This video segment from ABC’s Nightline in 2008 reviews the process of harvesting and transplanting stem cells in pets.
[youtube mVCnhrwIKBA 420 350] More
For a long time, flea control consisted of harsh products that were related to nerve gases of World War I. Many of these carbamates and organophosphates worked well at killing fleas, but unfortunately, they weren’t very safe for pets and had the potential for severe toxicity. Then, about fifteen years ago, modern chemistry helped give us safer topical flea treatments. Because fleas, ticks and other parasites are medical problems that need educated medical recommendations, the companies producing the new products chose to sell these flea medications only through veterinarians.
Fast forward to present day and you can find many flea products both over the counter (OTC) and through veterinary or “ethical” channels. Annual sales of flea and tick medications exceed $1 billion and there are many companies eager to get their share of the pie.
Recently, the compound, fipronil became available for generic use. The original patent holder, Merial, produces an excellent flea product (Frontline®) that was our main choice for many years. Now, no less than 15 “generic” fipronil flea products will be offered in the OTC markets.
What does this mean for you and your pets? Can you feel comfortable with generic flea medications?
First, let’s look at what a generic medication is. When a specific pharmaceutical company develops and patents a new drug, they are allowed the exclusive rights to sell that drug for a period of time. When the patent expires, other companies can then market their own products that use that drug. Since the generic companies don’t have any research and development costs and very little advertising is needed, their costs are much lower and, therefore, their selling price is also lower.
Although generics utilize the same active ingredients as the original, they are not exactly the same product – and that is very important to know. Different inert ingredients that are generally recognized as safe may be included. In the case of flea medications, these inert ingredients are usually the carrier molecules, or what helps spread the medication across the pet’s body. The FDA requires that generic manufacturers prove their product exhibits bioequivalence to the original product.
In the case of topical parasiticides, many of these products are actually regulated by the EPA instead of the FDA. This means that a veterinarian’s prescription is not necessary to purchase the product, although, as mentioned above, most of the original pharmaceutical companies chose to sell their product “under veterinary supervision”. The generic manufacturers do not have that same belief and the new copycat flea products will be found on shelves of Wal-Mart, Target and other big box stores across the country.
So, if the product is essentially the same and at a lower cost, is it ok to buy these over the counter flea preventives?
Fleas, as well as other parasites, can cause a host of medical problems that go beyond simple itching. Serious diseases can worsen if the issues are not handled properly. In a general merchandise store, you will not find anyone with the expertise or training you’ll find at our hospital. Not to mention someone to call should your pet have an adverse reaction to any topical treatment.
Believe it or not, it might be more economical and more convenient to purchase the preventives through us at our hospital. Not only can you get all the products (flea preventive, heartworm preventive, etc) at one location, some of the ethical products sold can actually help with other parasite diseases. So, a single product could be the answer for your pet instead of several that end up costing more.
We will also provide a single dose of the flea product instead of the six pack you find at the store. It’s another way we can help you save money!
It’s also important to note that the federal government has actually ordered multiple manufacturers of these generic flea products to remove some products from store shelves.
We understand that your pet is unique and may not tolerate certain products as well as others. We hope our medical advice has real value…especially since the wrong product used improperly actually have the potential to be fatal! We understand if there are other possible interactions between flea preventives and other medications your pet is taking.
Finally, our healthcare team can not only show you how to properly use the products in question, but they will keep a complete record of what you have used in the past, taking the guesswork out and possible preventing future complications. And you already know we will keep track of your pet’s overall health and find medical problems early while they are still inexpensive to treat. We strive to be part of your pet’s health care team.
All of this valued information is not something you will get from a cashier at the grocery store or a display unit in a big box retailer. More