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.
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! More
To help protect your loyal companions, let’s revisit safety tips on common risks that arise for pets during the holiday season.
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.
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.
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. More
Dr. Denise and I are excited to announce the launch of Petly – your personalized pet health page! We have decided to upgrade our current pet portals to a new Pet Health Network called Petly. We hope you will find this interactive system more user friendly. You should have recently received an email invitation to connect to your pet’s vital health information.
What exactly is Petly? We like to describe it as a secure, single place for everything concerning your pet. With your free upgrade, you’ll have access to many great features, including:
Centralized Pet Health – Keeping your pet healthy has never been so easy! Your new system allow us to share more of your pet’s health records than every before. Request an appointment or order a prescription online. Petly is designed to let you access your pet’s health resources when you need them at your convenience.
Your Pet’s Appointment Information – View up-to-the-hour information on future appointments. Know when to arrive, how to prepare for and what to expect at each appointment. Petly will even send you appointment reminder emails.
Your Pet’s Vaccine Records – View and Print Vaccine Records with one easy click. Take this printout with you wherever you need proof of your pet’s vaccination status.
The Latest in Pet Health – You can also access informative articles about the latest in pet health from the Pet Health Network. Information ranges from medical articles to behavior tips, breed information to breaking current pet news and food recalls. The Pet Health Network has it all to help you keep your pet as healthy and happy as possible.
Get Social! – With a live Facebook feed, see the latest in pet-related news, learn about deals and offers, and stay in touch.
How Do I Join Petly? If you and your pet have visited us in the last two years, you would have received an email that provides you with login information to join! During your first login, you’ll be asked to create a password. Be sure to write it down since the hospital will not have access to it. Your previous pet portal program will be deactivated December 1st, 2014.
Rest assured, your email address is used only for communications between you and our veterinary hospital. Please don’t forget to review and personalize your communication preferences before you log out of your account in manage my account.
If you have any questions concerning Petly, please do not hesitate to contact our office 417-889-2727. We hope you find the transition to Petly simple and an improvement over our current pet portal.
Dr. Ned More
Excalibur, a beloved family dog, was euthanized on Weds, Oct 8th in Madrid, Spain. He was sedated beforehand as many pets are prior to euthanasia. Following the procedure, his body was sealed in a biosecurity device and transferred to a disposal facility for incineration. Excalibur was incinerated because he belonged to Theresa Romero – a Spanish nursing assistant infected with Ebola. Madrid’s regional government obtained a court order to destroy the dog as a necessary precaution in containing the Ebola virus. This action has raised discussion within the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) and within the animal loving community worldwide. What do we know?
As it stands now, exposure to the Ebola virus in the U.S. is extremely low. The likelihood of a canine patient of Deerfield Veterinary Hospital being exposed to Ebola virus is highly unlikely. There are no known animal cases of Ebola in the U.S. In order for a canine to contract Ebola, the dog would have to make direct contact with bodily secretions of a human symptomatic with Ebola. While this could more easily happen in those stricken areas of West Africa, it is doubtful to occur elsewhere.
A large serologic study of dogs was conducted during the 2001-2002 Ebola outbreak in Gabon, Africa. Although the dogs in the study lived closely with humans and were deemed pets by villagers, the dogs were not treated as pets as we know it in the U.S. These dogs were not fed regularly and had to scavenge for their food. The dogs ate small dead animals and internal organs of wild animals hunted and slaughtered by the African villagers. Some dogs were observed to have eaten fresh remains of Ebola virus-infected dead animals brought back to the villages. Some dogs licked vomit from Ebola virus-infected patients. Obviously, this situations would not occur in the U.S. or in much of the world. At the conclusion of the study, 25% of the dogs in the affected area in Gabon were found to have antibodies against the Ebola virus. However, none of the dogs had circulating Ebola viral antigens or Ebola viral DNA in their serum samples. None of the dogs showed clinical signs or died of Ebola Viral Disease during the study. The study only concluded that the animals had been exposed to the disease. 1
Obviously what occurred with dogs in the Gabon, Africa study and what is happening now in West Africa are extremely different situations than what could occur in a household in Springfield Missouri. The CDC recommends that if a pet is in the home of an Ebola patient, veterinarians in a collaborative effort with public health officials should carefully determine the pet’s risk of exposure to bodily fluids of the Ebola patient. Appropriate measures and necessary precautions should be taken based on the risk assessment. A coordinated effort by the AVMA has begun compiling and disseminating information for United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) certified veterinarians including Dr. Denise Roche, Dr. Laura Hilton, Dr. Craig Bendickson and Dr. Ned Caldwell. Deerfield Veterinary Hospital is committed to providing pertinent information of how pets will be treated and cared for during infectious disease outbreaks.
A key point to remember is that there is currently no evidence that infected dogs can shed the Ebola virus. Again the study conducted in Gabon did not find any viral antigens in the dog blood samples. The study only detected antibodies in the dog’s serum samples. While questions do remain and deficits in our knowledge are apparent, there is limited concern about dogs naturally transmitting the Ebola virus at this time.
If you have any questions about infectious disease prevention, we would love to meet your pet and recommend the option that’s right for his or her needs: Get in touch with a Deerfield Veterinary Hospital staff member.
1. “Ebola Virus Antibody Prevalence in Dogs and Human Risk” Loïs Allela, Olivier Bourry, Régis Pouillot, André Délicat, Philippe Yaba, Brice Kumulungui, More
Pierre Rouquet, Jean-Paul Gonzalez, and Eric M. Leroy. Emerging Infectious Diseases • www.cdc.gov/eid • Vol. 11, No. 3, March 2005.
As we head deeper into fall and the temperature starts to chill a bit, it’s easy to worry less about our pets suffering through flea infestations. After all, fleas and other blood-thirsty parasites don’t thrive in the freezing cold, right? That’s true for the most part, but it only paints part of the picture. Many great pet owners who love and provide dedicated care for their dogs and cats simply don’t realize the risk of fleas doesn’t fade with the summer heat. In fact, a quick Google search for winter flea protection prompts far too many results pointing to the common misconception that fleas won’t attack pets during the fall and winter. It’s time to review the facts, so we can help put that myth out to pasture.
The Fall Flea Surge
As a trusted veterinarian in Springfield, MO, where it gets awfully hot in the summer and bitterly cold in the dead of winter, I field all kinds of questions about why our patient families would need to treat their pets for fleas all year round. The answer is that the cooler temperatures and increased precipitation September tends to bring leads to the fall flea surge—as Dr. Michael Dryden, widely trusted Professor of Veterinary Parasitology at Kansas State University College of Veterinary Medicine, Manhattan, has deemed it.1 In fact, Dr. Dryden has found that wild animals carry 70 percent more fleas in the fall than in the summer! How did he discover that? He and his team actually sedated wild animals and then counted their fleas. One poor opossum played the unwilling host to over 1,000 fleas at the time of the research.1
It’s time to fight the fall flea surge.
The increased flea population during cooler months makes sense when one considers that thicker winter coats hide fleas when wildlife attempts to groom the pests away.2 Fleas find warm places to survive as long as possible, and there’s no host quite as a warm and cozy as a furry animal—including any dog or cat who enjoys free run of the house. When fleas attack pets and then make their way inside, they quickly make themselves at home. Fleas nest and lay 40 to 50 eggs every day, wherever they please. Carpets, clothing, and beds make it particularly easy for fleas to thrive throughout the winter.
Compounding the issue, fleas adapt to extreme cold with varying degrees of success during the different stages of life. For example, both adult fleas and flea eggs struggle when temperatures remain at 37°F or below, and they die if it remains that cold for more than 10 days. Flea pupae, on the other hand, are bundled up in a protective layer that can keep them alive in the frigid weather throughout the winter and beyond—for up to a full year.
The Winnable Fight Against Fleas
Unlike wildlife that can only rely on grooming to control fleas, your pets have an advocate to help protect them from fleas throughout the year. Whatever the season, a monthly flea preventive is critical to stopping flea infestations, and fall is the absolute worst time of year to cut back on flea control. If we erroneously let fleas off the hook during the cooler weather, those pesky parasites have a far better chance to invade our homes and happily overwinter with our pets.
The proven need for year-round flea control applies to pets of all ages. You already know the importance of scheduling preventive kitten shots and puppy vaccinations, but many people don’t realize even young animals can safely receive flea control medicines. At Deerfield Veterinary Hospital, we urge pet owners to begin a monthly preventive plan during the very first visit for their new kitten or puppy. That lets us protect the pet right from the start and gives our caring staff the opportunity to show new pet owners how to properly administer the medicine.
The year-round approach is equally important for elderly dog care and senior cat care. Although our older pals generally don’t go outside as often, that doesn’t mean they are at less risk of contracting fleas. As older pets slow down, they become easier targets for fleas and other parasites. Older cats typically aren’t as fastidious of groomers, so your elderly cat may not keep up that beautiful coat as well as when she was younger. Thankfully, we can prevent the discomfort and pain fleas cause for older pets. That’s even more crucial when considering any chronic underlying issues your beloved pet may be enduring.
Our Preferred Flea Control Methods
Thanks to the many powerful breakthroughs in parasite prevention in recent years, dealing with fleas and flea bite allergies is something our pets no longer need to do—at any age.
It is, of course, always important to consider the unique needs and living situation for individual pet patients before making a final choice of flea control medicines. So stop by Deerfield Veterinary Hospital or visit your local veterinarian to learn which option is best for your pet. While you’re there, ask about a few of the flea control methods I find to be particularly reliable and effective:
- Topical Flea Prevention for Dogs: Frontline and Revolution are great choices.
- Oral Flea Prevention for Dogs: Nexgard and Trifexis are known to work well.
- Topical Flea Prevention for Cats: Revolution is a reliable option.
- Oral Flea Prevention for Cats: Currently, there are no approved oral options for cats.
If you have any questions about flea prevention, we would love to meet your pet and recommend the option that’s right for his or her needs: Get in touch with a Deerfield Veterinary Hospital staff member.
- “No Foolin’ Fall Is Prime Flea Season.” Dale, Steve. Oct. 18, 2011. “Steve Dale’s Pet World” on the ChicagoNow website. Accessed Sept. 15, 2014 at chicagonow.com/steve-dales-pet-world/2011/10/no-foolin-fall-is-prime-flea-season/.
- “Why Fleas Surge in the Fall.” Dr. Bramlage, DVM. The Revival Animal Health website. Accessed Sept. 15, 2014 at revivalanimal.com/articles/Why-Fleas-Surge-in-Fall.html.