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Health

Summer Pet Safety Tips and Reminders

By | Educational, Health

Summer is now in full swing and with it comes the long, hot days. Here are some tips and reminders to keep your dog safe during the dog days of summer.

    • Dogs do not sweat through their skin but dissipate heat by panting. Dogs with compromised respiratory systems are more susceptible to heat stroke.
    • Never leave your dog in the car. Many sources say when the outside temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit, it’s too hot. This is a good guideline. Heat exhaustion and heat stroke can start in dogs when their internal temperature reaches 104 degrees. Keep in mind that normal temperature in dogs is around 101 degrees. The temperature inside cars can get hot fast. A scientific review written by forensic scientists measured temperature variations in parked cars. When the outside temperature was measured at 75 degrees, the temperature in the cabin of a car has been measured at 118 degrees. That’s too hot. At 81 degrees, the cabin of the car can reach 138 degrees. Cracking the windows has an effect, but not enough of one when the temperature is in the 70s. A one inch crack in all windows lowers the maximum cabin temperature by 5 degrees. A 2” crack in all windows lowers the cabin temperature by 10 degrees.
    • Go for walks early in the day or in the evening. Dogs need exercise but it’s best to take them out for walks early in the morning or late in the evening when the temperatures are cooler. Also, be aware of hot asphalt. It can burn your dog’s paws. Asphalt temperatures have been measured at 143 degrees Fahrenheit when the ambient temperature was only 87 degrees. To put this in perspective, 140 degrees can cause skin damage to vulnerable areas in five seconds. Eggs can literally fry at 131 degrees. If you suspect the ground may be hot enough to make your dog uncomfortable, simply bend down and test the surface with the back of your hand. You should be able to press the back of your hand firmly into the asphalt or metal for seven seconds with no discomfort.
    • Make sure your dog has plenty of water. Dogs need extra water on hot days to keep them hydrated. In addition, your pup will be grateful for a pond or creek, wading pool and/or a nice shaded area to keep cool when outside. Bring your dog inside often. Like humans, they also appreciate air conditioning and fans.
    • Dogs can sunburn. Dog breeds with short or no hair at all and with white or light-colored hair are the most vulnerable canines. Sunburn most often occurs on the nose, ears, around the eyes, and the tummy area of dogs. The most common sign that your dog has sunburn is redness and tenderness around the affected area. Sometimes, in more serious cases, the sunburn can even lead to hair loss and exposed skin on the burn site. As is the case with humans, repeated sun exposure and burns can cause skin damage and possibly skin cancer for your pets. You can apply sunscreen that is specifically labeled for dogs.

Knowing the signs of heat exhaustion in your pet and how to deal with it are also important. Signs and symptoms include vigorous panting, elevated heart rate, excess salivation, vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, staggering, gasping, lying down and refusing to get up, and brick red, blue, or purple discoloration of the gums.

Heat Exhaustion Action Steps:

    • Take immediate measures to reduce body temperature.
    • Move dog to shade or air conditioned room.
    • Give the dog small doses of cool water or ice cubes to lick. Do not let the dog drink a copious amount of water.
    • Rinse the dog off with cool (not cold) water.
    • Place ice bags around the head, neck, and chest.
    • Put a fan on the dog if possible.
    • Do not cover the dog with a wet towel as this may prevent heat from escaping the body.
    • Bring your dog friend to us.

 

Here’s to a very happy and healthy summer!

Hairball Awareness Day is observed on the last Friday in April. So we're regurgitating the furry facts about hairballs in your feline friends!

By | Educational, Health

What Causes a Feline Hairball?

By Dr. Mike Paul, DVM

Cats commonly develop hairballs that stress them and make us none too happy when we find them on the floor. Hairballs are, as their name implies, accumulations of hair that has been swallowed with grooming or excessive licking. Though generally considered a cat condition, other animals, including humans, can be affected.

What are hairballs and how do they form?
As cats groom themselves, they swallow a lot of the dead hair that has come loose. This indigestible hair passes down their throats and into the stomach. Most of this hair eventually passes through the cat’s digestive tract and then through the stools, but some of it remains in the stomach and gradually accumulates into a wet clump—the hairball.

What are the signs that my cat is having trouble with hairballs?
Because cats groom so much, it is not uncommon for cats to “cough up a hairball” as often as weekly. They are generally rather small (<1” in length) but can be quite large with long cylinders (up to 4” in length). On occasion, they may lodge in the stomach or intestine and develop to a size that requires intervention.

Hairballs tend to begin with the sound of a cough that is followed by retching and gagging and then followed by expelling a cylindrical mass of hair. It is impossible to distinguish the cause of a cough just by the sound.

It is very difficult to differentiate the coughing and gagging associated with a hairball from coughing associated with primary lung disease or parasites.

Vomiting can also look a lot like coughing and may or may not be associated with a cough.

Is my cat likely to have problems with hairballs?
Long hair cats have a greater tendency to form hairballs, as do younger cats. Some cats that are prone to skin problems and excessive grooming may have more problems with hairball formation. In some cases, frequent vomiting of hairballs may indicate an underlying gastrointestinal problem, such as inflammatory bowel disease.

Prevention and management of hairballs
Brush and comb your cat frequently to remove hair that will otherwise be ingested. When you get a new kitten, start getting her accustomed to grooming. If your cat is a long hair cat and does not allow daily combing, it may be necessary to have her shaved regularly.

Administer a hairball remedy if necessary. Do not attempt to use mineral oil as there is a risk of aspiration. Petroleum jelly is effective if the cat will tolerate it. If not, there are a number of more palatable petroleum jelly based products that most cats find appealing.

Cat foods that have increased fiber content to facilitate the passing of hairballs and omega-6 fatty acids to enhance skin health may also be beneficial.

Questions to ask your veterinarian

  • Why do cats regularly vomit wads of hair?
  • How can I prevent hairballs in my cats?

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

 

Five Tips for a Healthier Dog Smile

By | Educational, Health

Dog Checkups & Preventive Care

Dogs have 42 smile generators. Keeping those 42 teeth strong, healthy, and happy is essential to preventing illness, pain, and may extend longevity.

Each February, U.S. veterinarians celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month to raise awareness about the dangers of oral diseases such as gingivitis, tooth abscesses, and mouth tumors. While I’ll be the first to admit it’s not a thrilling party theme, it is an incredibly important topic that directly affects every dog’s quality of life.

To get this party started, I’d like to share five of my top tips for a healthier dog smile!

1. Daily brushing
The foundation of a good oral care regimen for your dog is daily brushing. It can seem like a lot to brush your pet’s teeth daily, but it’s my professional obligation to remind you why it’s important. Daily brushing removes the biofilm and plaque created by mouth bacteria and helps avoid most oral diseases. That’s why we spend two to three minutes twice a day brushing our pearly whites; we fear the dentist’s drill and the threat of root canals (well, at least I do). Once you train your pooch to sit still for a couple of minutes while you clean his teeth, you’ll discover how fast and easy it is. Here are my seven simple steps to teaching your dog to tolerate the toothbrush:

  • Start by touching and rubbing the face, lips, and muzzle. Do this for a few days before moving to the next step.
  • Next, rub the teeth and gums with your fingers for a few days.
  • Begin rubbing and brushing your pet’s face and lips with a veterinarian-approved toothbrush.
  • Let your pet “taste test” pet-safe toothpaste on the toothbrush.
  • Gently brush the front teeth by lifting the lips.
  • Slowly work your way to the back teeth over several sessions. Concentrate on the outside of the teeth.
  • Make it fun! Reward your pet with praise and a crunchy veggie treat after each session.

2. Beyond the brush
No matter what, some pet parents simply can’t brush their dog’s teeth. If you fall into that category, think beyond the brush. Daily oral swishes and rinses chew treats containing anti-plaque ingredients, and specialized teeth-cleaning diets are easy options. Be honest with your veterinarian if you struggle to clean your dog’s teeth; ask for alternatives to tooth brushing. I almost always find another technique the pet parent can use. Are these substitutes as good as brushing? Of course not. But they’re infinitely better than no oral care, and some work nearly as well.

3. Monthly mouth check
In addition to daily oral care, mark your calendar for a monthly peek inside your pet’s mouth. Look for reddened or puffy gums, cracked or broken teeth, and unusual color changes, growths or swellings. Any bleeding, pus, or discharges from teeth and gums should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. While you’re checking the teeth, be sure to feel the throat for swollen lymph nodes, the eyes for cloudiness or changes in coloration, and the tummy for tenderness or masses. Identifying subtle changes early can help prevent significant diseases later.

4. Yearly vet check
No discussion of oral health would be complete without mentioning the importance of annual veterinary checkups. Your veterinarian will carefully examine your pet’s oral cavity for any problems difficult to notice at home. Oral health may impact your dog’s entire body: infection in the mouth is reported to cause infection in the heart, kidneys, and elsewhere. A complete annual exam with basic bloodwork and complete urinalysis for adult dogs is what I recommend. The exam should be every 6 to 12 months for older canines as this can help with early disease diagnosis and optimize outcomes.

5. Veterinary dental cleaning  
There’s no substitute for regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian. Every one to three years, your pet will likely need to have his teeth professionally cleaned. In addition to producing a sparkling smile, the most important work occurs out of sight, beneath your dog’s gum line. Your veterinarian will carefully clean every tooth surface and remove plaque and tartar from hard-to-reach recesses below the gums and between teeth. Unchecked and uncleaned, pathogenic bacteria will eventually cause significant gum recession, resulting in oral pain and tooth loss. Tooth abscesses have been linked to heart valve infections and other serious medical conditions. The next time your veterinarian recommends a dental cleaning, remember the procedure is much more than cleaning teeth; it’s about preventing disease.

There are many, many reasons to keep your dog’s smile healthy. Good health begins in the mouth. A healthy smile suggests a healthy pet. Try these five tips and ask your veterinarian for five more. Together we can help our pets live the longest, highest quality of life possible. Keep brushing and keep smiling!

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.

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Here at Rocklin Road Animal Hospital we now offer Dental Preventive Plans.  Monthly payments and a nice discount make it affordable to give your pets the best care!  Click here to find out more!

Protecting Your Pet's Paws

By | Educational, Health

Winter can be brutal on our dog’s paw pads. Exposed to the elements and toxic chemicals, the paw pads are at risk for drying, cracking, trauma, frostbite and chemical burns. Luckily, there are some tips and products out there that can help keep your dog’s paws happy and healthy this winter.
Many protective balms are available to help protect your dog’s paws, and even some human products can do the trick, Musher’s Secret or Bag Balm are good examples. Do your research.

Once you find the balm that you like, take these steps:

Prep the paws

Before using the balm, make sure the paw is ready. Good grooming is essential for healthy winter feet. If your dog has long hair use a clipper (beard trimmer with the shortest plastic guard equipped works well) to keep the hair between the paw pads short so that it is even with the pad.
Trim the hair around the paws especially if they have a lot of feathering to make sure none of the hair comes into contact with the ground. This will help prevent ice balls from forming between and around the paw pads which can be painful and result in trauma. It also makes it easier to apply the balm to the pads. Keeping the nails trimmed is important year-round but even more so in the winter because long nails force the paw to splay out and make it more likely that snow and ice will accumulate between the paw pads.
Apply a thin even layer of balm just before going out for a wintery walk. After the walk wipe your dog’s paws with a warm washcloth to remove snow, ice and ice melt. Then apply another layer of balm to soothe any irritation and to keep them from drying out. Bag Balm can be found in most drug stores and pet stores. If you can’t find Bag Balm then Vaseline is an acceptable alternative.

Dog boots

Another good option to protect your dog’s paws is dog boots. These boots are made by various manufacturers and can be easily found online and in pet stores. They consist of a sock like boot with a Velcro strap to help keep them in place. Some have soles which provide the additional benefit of adding traction. These boots protect the paw by helping them stay dry and preventing exposure to salt and deicers.
Be sure to check that the strap is not too tight; the boot should be snug so that it doesn’t slip off but not so tight that it constricts the paw. Dogs tend to not to like wearing the boots at first so acclimate them to wearing them by putting them on your dog for short periods of time in the house. Praise them and gradually increasing the length of time as they get used to them.

Salt and deicers can be toxic

Be aware that salt and most deicers can be toxic to our canine friends. Try to keep your dog away from roads and sidewalks that have been heavily treated with salt and chemical deicers. There are pet friendly deicers available for use on your own sidewalks and driveway and you should encourage your neighbors to do the same.
Immediately after a walk, wash your dog’s paws with warm water as described earlier to help prevent them from ingesting any salt or chemicals that may be on their paws. While outdoors, do not let your dog eat slush or drink from puddles near heavily treated roads and sidewalks.
Dogs are susceptible to frostbite and hypothermia just as people are so use common sense as to how long your walks can be. Keep them short and watch for signs of hypothermia such as shivering, anxiety and moving slowly.
Winter can be tough on our dog’s feet but good grooming and protecting the paws by using a balm or booties will go a long way to keeping your dog’s feet healthy.

Diabetes in Cats

By | Educational, Health

 What is feline diabetes?

Diabetes mellitus, the clinical name for “sugar diabetes,” is a condition that affects the concentration of glucose, a type of sugar, in your cat’s blood. Diabetes results from a shortage of insulin or when the body has trouble using the insulin it has made properly.

Insulin affects the way your cat’s body uses food.

When your cat eats, food is broken down into very small components that the body can use. One component, carbohydrate, is converted into several types of sugars, including glucose. Glucose is absorbed from the intestines into the blood. Once in the bloodstream, glucose travels to cells where it can be absorbed and used as a source of energy—if insulin is present. Without enough insulin, glucose can’t enter cells and builds up in the bloodstream. So your cat may act hungry all the time and eat constantly, but still be malnourished because its cells can’t absorb glucose.

Diabetes occurs in cats when their cells no longer respond 

normally to the amounts of insulin produced by the pancreas. Cats with diabetes usually need to have insulin injections, at least initially, as well as an appropriate diet. Your veterinarian will recommend the most appropriate treatment for your cat’s diabetes.

 

Check out Pet Diabetes Month for more information.

5 Dangerous Halloween Candies for Pets

By | Health

Halloween is associated with spooky haunted houses, costume parties and most of all, Halloween candy!

Certain types of candy can be toxic and very dangerous to pets. Below are are five dangerous Halloween candies for dogs and cats.

1. Candy Corn & Other High Sugar Candy

Candies that are made with pure sugar can cause severe gas and diarrhea. The sugar not only provides a great source of food for gut bacteria to indulge on, it can also pull water into the colon and cause a bad case of diarrhea.

candy-corn

Keep candy corn away from pets this Halloween.

2. Chocolate Covered Raisins

These tasty treats combine two potentially deadly ingredients in dogs and cats. Chocolate is toxic to pets and can cause severe vomiting, diarrhea and seizures. Raisins (and other grape products) can cause severe kidney failure. The two of these combined is the ultimate toxic nightmare for pets. If your pet eats any chocolate covered raisins this Halloween, he needs to be taken to your veterinarian immediately for treatment.

raisnet

Chocolate covered raisins are highly dangerous for dogs and cats.

3. Candy with Wrappers

When dogs get into the candy bowl, they don’t usually bother to unwrap the treats first. Plastic and foil wrappers pose a health risk since they can cause an obstruction in the intestines and irritate the lining of the GI tract. Sometimes, pets can pass the wrappers without a problem, but it is best to keep all wrapped treats away from pets just in case.

foil-wrapped-candy

Candy wrappers can cause an obstruction in a pet’s intestines.

4. Bite-size Hard Candy

Hard candy often has a delicious taste to dogs. These treats pose a major choking hazard for pets. Hard candy becomes slippery when mixed with saliva, and it can easily be inhaled into the trachea (wind pipe) which can cause choking. Be sure to keep these candies away from dogs and cats.

hard-candy

Hard candy can be a choking hazard to pets.

5. Sugar-Free Gum

This type of gum may contain Xylitol, a sugar-substitute. Xylitol is perfectly safe in people, but it can be deadly if ingested by a dog or cat. Xylitol causes a very severe drop in blood sugar that can happen within minutes after ingestion. Pets may become lethargic, unable to walk and start having seizures. If they survive the initial symptoms, they often will have severe liver damage and potentially fatal liver failure. This is the most dangerous type of Halloween candy for pets.

Keep your pet safe this Halloween by keeping all of your Halloween treats in a safe, secure place.

Your cat threw up? No, it's not normal!

By | Guides, Health, Uncategorized

cat grass

Hairballs are normal, yes, but chances are that’s NOT what’s making your car wretch.

Vomiting is a common and frequently complex problem in cats.  According to Gary Norsworthy, DVM, DABVP (feline practice), the greatest of all feline myths is that vomiting is normal.  It’s not.

If one of your human family members seemed healthy but was vomiting twice a week-or twice a day-would we accept it as normal?  Give up on these excuses:

  • He eats too fast.
  • She has a sensitive stomach.
  • They’re just hairballs, and they are normal.
  • That’s just the way her is; he’s a puker.

Signs of Disease

Gastrointestinal diseases, renal failure, inflammatory or other liver diseases, pancreatitis and even lymphoma can cause chronic vomiting.  Don’t wish away vomiting as probably a hairball-get it checked out by your veterinarian.

Sign of Poisoning

Vomiting that isn’t chronic could be caused by poisoning.  The following substances are the most common household toxins for cats.

  • Plants: Autumn crocus, azalea, cyclamen, kalanchoe, lilies, oleander, dieffenbachia, daffodils, lily of the valley, sago palm, tulips, hyacinths, poinsettias, and amaryllis to name a few.
  • Over the counter medications: Including aspirin, acetaminophen, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Kaopectate, Pepto- Bismol
  • Prescription drugs: Including antidepressant drugs, such as Prozac, Pacil, Celexa and Effexor.
  • Dietary Supplements and vitamins
  • Human food: Onions for example
  • Household cleaners: Drain cleaners, concentrated dishwashing chemicals (including dishwasher tabs), lime-removal products,, oven cleaners and concentrated toilet cleaners pose the biggest threat.
  • Topical flea/tick treatments, flea shampoo and collars: (If your purchase from a veterinary hospital, they are guaranteed!)
  • Essential oils: Often found in potpourri
  • Insecticides and rodenticides

If you fear your cat has ingested a toxin, remove your cat form the area, check to make sure your cat is breathing and acting normally, do not give any home antidotes, do not induce vomiting with consulting a veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline, and call the Pet Poison Helpline at (855)764-7661.  If veterinary attention is needed go to your veterinarian.

Treat Your Home For Fleas!

By | Educational, Health

dog-and-cat-scratchIf your dog or cat has been scratching a lot lately, there is a great chance that your furry friend has fleas. They are tiny black or dark colored insects that feed on blood of your pet. In addition to causing severe itching, they can also transmit various infectious diseases. Dog and cat fleas don’t feed on humans, however, they can bite which means that they also pose a health concern for humans. For that reason it is extremely important to react immediately if your dog or cat has fleas. But besides treating your pet, you should also treat your home.

The Majority of Fleas Live Inside or Outside Your Home

Believe it or not but the fleas that live on our pets account only for a tiny minority of the entire flea population. The majority live inside your home in various stages – eggs, larvae and pupae. They can be found in carpets, bedding, furniture, low traffic areas… And if not dealt with promptly, they can cause a heavy infestation that can be very difficult to eliminate.

Many fleas also live outside, waiting for a host hiding in shrubs, trees, leaves, grass cuttings and other shady and moist areas. They also like to hide out in dog houses and other outdoor structures, while avoiding sunny areas.

Eliminating Fleas from Your Home

Treating your pet won’t eliminate fleas that live inside your home. If not dealt with, they won’t only re-infest your pet but they will also “take over” your home. In a very short period of time. Obviously, it is a lot easier to get rid of them before you have a bad infestation although it takes some time and a lot of persistence to eliminate the last flea.

To get rid of fleas in your home, you are advised to:

– Vacuum on a daily basis. Be particularly thorough when it comes carpets, upholstered furniture and your pet’s bedding. According to some studies, vacuuming kills fleas in all stages but just in case, empty/discard the bag after vacuuming or put a small piece of a flea collar in your vacuum cleaner bag.

– Wash your pet’s bedding, removable furniture covers and other washable cloth items every week. The idea is to get rid of fleas that managed to escape the vacuum cleaner.

– Use an insecticide. Unfortunately, you will probably have to use an insecticide to effectively eliminate fleas from your home. If you don’t like the idea of using toxic chemicals inside your home, you may try with natural products. But if you have a bad infestation, you will probably have to use harsher chemicals or even call a professional exterminator.

– Ask your vet for flea prevention treatments for your pet. If you don’t want your pet or home to get infested with fleas again, ask your vet to help you choose the best flea prevention treatment for your pet. Many products that provide protection against fleas also offer an effective protection against other parasites such as ticks and worms.  They is one that you only give a oral, chewable tablet to once every three months!

– Don’t forget about your yard. If you don’t want any fleas inside your home or on your pet, you are highly recommended to cut the shrubs, remove the leaves and grass cutting from the lawn, and try to eliminate as many potential flea-habitats as possible. Also, make sure to keep your garbage bins securely closed. Otherwise, they may attract rodents, wildlife and stray animals which can drop flea eggs in your yard.

In conclusion, make sure to treat all areas together to get the best results.

Pet Teeth Cleaning Under Anesthesia – Pros and Cons

By | Educational, Guides, Health

Pet Teeth Cleaning Under Anesthesia – Pros and Cons

Like most of us, our pets are not exactly thrilled about a dental either. First, it is very uncomfortable and second, they don’t know that it’s for their own good. Without anesthesia, it is thus virtually impossible to clean dogs’ and cats’ teeth.  At least not as thoroughly as necessary.

The Benefits of Anesthesia Outweigh the Risks

Anesthesia always poses some risk of complications and it’s completely normal to be concerned about your pet’s safety. However, the American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) and the majority of veterinarians agree that its benefits far outweigh the risks.

Pros of pet teeth cleaning under anesthesia include:

– Thorough removal of dental plaque and tartar. Even though the so-called anesthesia-free dental cleaning claims to be just as effective (but a lot safer and less expensive), it isn’t really an alternative to dental cleaning under anesthesia. What is more, it can cause more harm than good. The thing is that it’s impossible to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar if the animal is not anesthetized. This is especially true for the area below the gum line where plaque is causing the greatest harm. Your pet’s mouth may appear clean but it’s not clean.

– Less stress and discomfort for the animal. No dog or cat will allow teeth cleaning without anesthesia unless being physically restrained. Besides the stress due to prolonged restriction, an animal that is not anesthetized may also experience severe psychological stress because they don’t understand what is going on. The last but not the least important, dental cleaning can be very uncomfortable and even painful. Anesthesia eliminates most of the stress and makes teeth cleaning a completely painless procedure.

– Less expensive in the long term. Although anesthesia-free dental cleaning is supposed to be less expensive, in the long term, it can cost you much more than having your pet anesthetized. This is because in anesthesia-free dental cleaning, the bacteria that cause periodontal disease are not removed from below the gum line. As a result, the disease can quickly spread to the tooth root or in the bone which can be very expensive to treat. Also, without anesthesia, the veterinarian can’t make a thorough exam of the mouth, throat and tongue or perform other dental procedures.

The Cons? The Risk of Complications Albeit Extremely Low

Unfortunately, anesthesia isn’t entirely risk free. The good news is that complications are extremely rare. To reduce the risk of complications to the minimum and ensure that anesthesia doesn’t pose a health threat to the animal, every pet is examined and evaluated for their health status and physical condition before being anesthetized. Also, the progress of veterinary medicine including anesthesia in the recent years further reduced the risk of complications. Nevertheless, it is of utmost importance to understand both the benefits and risks of pet teeth cleaning under anesthesia. Here at Rocklin Road Animal Hospital we have a technician who’s only job is to monitor the patient while then are under for the procedure. If you have any concerns or questions, don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian.

Importance of a Dental for Your Pet

By | Health, Uncategorized

Cat and toothbrush

Importance of a Dental for Your Pet

Though pets are less likely to develop cavities which are the leading cause of tooth pain and other oral health problems in humans, they can develop serious problems with teeth and gums as well. And besides affecting their dental health, these can also seriously affect your pet’s overall health. To make sure that your pet’s teeth and gums are healthy, you should take your dog or cat to a vet for a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year. Just like in humans, dental problems in pets are a lot easier and less expensive to treat if detected early, not to mention a lot less painful too!

Causes of Dental Problems in Pets

As mentioned earlier, cavities are not as common in pets as in humans. However, both dogs and cats are prone to a host of dental problems which, just like cavities, can cause a lot of pain, tooth loss and even jeopardize their overall health. Periodontal disease is the most common cause of dental problems in pets and besides affecting oral health, it also puts dogs and cats at the increased risk of kidney, liver and heart disease. The good news is that periodontal disease can be both successfully prevented (or at least significantly postponed) and treated with regular dental cleaning and proper oral hygiene. The same goes for other common problems with teeth and gums.

Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth and Gums Healthy

Periodic dental cleaning which involves removal of plaque and tartar combined with regular tooth brushing is the best way to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. Periodontal disease (as well as many other oral health problems) in dogs and cats are caused by plaque and tartar buildup. Unfortunately, the accumulation of plaque and its hardening into tartar can’t be prevented. Therefore it is crucial to have it periodically removed by your vet. In between dental cleanings, you are highly recommended to regularly brush your dog’s or cat’s teeth.

While tooth brushing can’t remove the built-up plaque and tartar, it will dramatically reduce their accumulation. It is recommended to brush your pet’s teeth on a daily basis but even occasional brushing is better than no brushing at all. The majority of dogs eventually allow tooth brushing. Cats, on the other hand, require a lot of patience and persistence.

Dental Cleaning Products not a Replacement for Tooth Brushing

Dental cleaning products including dental toys and treats can help maintain your pet’s dental health, however, they are not a replacement for tooth brushing. Also, not all have the same effect. If you would like to use dental cleaning products, ask your vet for advice.

When to See Your Vet

Even with the best dental care, dogs and cats can develop problems with teeth or gums, or both. If your pet is having any of the symptoms listed below, don’t wait for the annual dental checkup and call your vet right away:

– tooth discoloration
– broken tooth
– bad breath
– loss of appetite
– excessive drooling, difficulty chewing and/or eating
– bleeding from the mouth
– loose teeth
– pain around the mouth
– lumps in the mouth