Monthly Archives

January 2015

Toothbrushing an Essential Part of Dog Dental Health

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As in humans, regular toothbrushing should be an integral part of dental care in dogs as well. It helps prevent plaque and tartar buildup which in turn helps prevent periodontal disease, one of the most common and most serious dental problems in pets. In addition to causing bad breath, pain and tooth loss, periodontal disease can also cause a very dangerous infection.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth Correctly?

You should brush your dog’s teeth once a day or at least several times a week using a toothbrush and toothpaste designed especially for dogs. The recommended toothbrushing technique is very similar to that recommended for people with the difference that instead of up and down motion, dogs’ teeth should be brushed by making small circular movements. But for most dog owners, the main challenge is to make their pet to accept having the teeth brushed in the first place.

Getting Your Dog Accustomed to Having His Teeth Brushed

Getting the dog accustomed to having his teeth brushed is half of the work. To make it less stressful for both of you, you are advised to start slowly. Show your dog the toothbrush and wait a few seconds for them to “get to know each other”. Then, lift your dog’s lip and gently brush his teeth – but without toothpaste in order for him to get accustomed to the feeling of having the toothbrush in the mouth. The next step is to offer your pet a small amount of toothpaste to taste it. Move to the actual toothbrushing only if the “introduction phase” was successful. If it wasn’t, repeat the part that didn’t go well later in the day or start all over again tomorrow. If your dog is repeatedly refusing to taste the toothpaste, however, consider a different flavor.

Once your dog accepts the idea of being touched in the mouth area and having his teeth brushed with a toothbrush and paste, establishing a toothbrushing routine is only a matter of time. Be persistent but don’t overdo it. If your dog is restless or upset, resist the temptation to brush all the teeth. Instead, increase the time of toothbrushing gradually. Also, choose the timing wisely – your dog is more likely to remain still after physical activity or exercise – and reward him after each toothbrushing session.

Even Healthy Teeth Require Periodic Examination by a Veterinarian

Dogs can develop plaque and tartar buildup even if having the best dental care possible. But they can also develop various dental diseases which can go unnoticed to the untrained eye to the point they start causing pain or serious dental/health problems. For that reason it is very important to have your dog’s teeth and gums examined by a veterinarian at least once a year.

If you notice any signs of dental problems or yellowish-brown plaques (tartar), make an appointment with your veterinarian as soon as possible. You are also recommended to contact your veterinarian for an advice if you are having difficulties establishing a toothbrushing routine.

See how Dental Wellness page and if financial obligations are an issue, check out our Dental Package.

Keeping Your Dog's Teeth Clean and Healthy

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Keeping Your Dog’s Teeth Clean and Healthy

Most dogs aren’t getting proper dental care due to their owners’ unawareness of the importance of good oral health for the overall health of their pets. This clearly indicates the fact that more than three quarters of dogs have signs of oral disease by the time they turn 3 years old. And many of them are suffering pain, discomfort while eating or other health problems including life-threatening conditions. The bacteria in the mouth can spread to the bloodstream and via the latter, to other parts of the body. There, they can cause a very serious infection which, if not receiving proper and prompt treatment, can quickly become fatal.

To prevent dental problems and related complications, and keep the dog healthy and happy, every pet owner should take steps to establish proper dental care which should include:

Periodic Dental Exams by a Veterinarian.

The goal of periodic dental exams by a veterinarian is to detect any disease in its early stage and take the necessary measures to prevent it from progressing. Any health problem is treated a lot easier if detected early and besides saving the pet a lot of pain and misery, early detection and treatment also help prevent potentially serious complications such as tooth loss and widespread infection. Unless recommended otherwise by your veterinarian, you should take your dog for routine dental exam at least once every 12 months.

Following the Recommended At-Home Dental Care.

After dental exam, your veterinarian may recommend dental cleaning under anesthesia to remove plaque and tartar deposits. In addition to being unsightly and causing bad breath, plaque and tartar have also been linked to a number of dental problems including periodontal disease. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to have them removed thoroughly by a veterinarian. But it is also of utmost importance to keep your dog’s teeth clean between dental cleanings and follow the recommended at-home dental care.

Ideally, you should brush your pet’s teeth every day but if not possible for one reason or another, try to brush them as frequent as possible. You may also offer your dog a chew toy or/and specially formulated foods that help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation. But be sure to consult your veterinarian because not all products are good for your pet. Also, these products should be used only as a supplement to toothbrushing and healthy, nutritionally balanced diet.

Watching for Signs of Dental Disease.

When brushing your dog’s teeth, you should also watch for symptoms of dental disease in order to be able to intervene early and prevent potentially very painful complications. Pay especially close attention to things such as bad breath, tooth discoloration, loose teeth, red or/and swollen gums, bleeding in the mouth, lumps or tumors in the mouth and discomfort/pain when touched in the area of the mouth.

If your dog has any of the mentioned symptoms, don’t wait for the routine dental exam and visit your veterinarian as soon as possible. Other signs and symptoms which may indicate a dental problem requiring veterinary attention include refusing to eat, having difficulties eating (e.g. dropping food), not being able or refusing to close/open the mouth, drooling and weight loss.

See how Dental Wellness page and if financial obligations are an issue, check out our Dental Package.

Is your pet the 'fat kid' in class?

By Guides, News

Unfortunately, pet obesity is a growing (no pun intended) problem in our culture.  We have become accustomed to overweight pets to the point where appropriate sized cats and dogs look too thin.

A general rule of thumb: you should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs when you run your fingers over his/her chest.  The formula for weight loss is pretty simple…if you are putting fewer calories in (food/treats) than you are taking out (normal metabolism plus exercise) then your pet will lose weight.  If your pet is overweight you need to decrease their calorie intake and/or increase their calorie output (exercise…tough do to in cats!).  Decreasing calorie intake means giving less food, fewer treats or feeding a low calorie food (diet food).  Yes, decrease the amount of food they are getting even if you are only feeding … (fill in the blank #cups). Every pet metabolizes their food at different rates.

There are some medical conditions that can also contribute to obesity such as hypothyroidism, and you should contact your veterinarian if you feel your pet may be dealing with a medical condition.  There are also some situations where you can’t seem to get your pet to lose weight no matter what you do.  Believe it or not, there is a wonderful diet medication that can be used to help get your pet to the correct weight.

Pet obesity is a serious medical condition, as it is in people.  It can lead to joint problems, diabetes, heart problems, and other serious medical issues.  All by itself, it decreases your pet’s quality of life.  Take a look at you furry family member and see what you think about his/her body condition. Go see your veterinarian to get a second opinion if you’re not sure.

Dr. Eric Grunder

Picking the right pet food

By Guides, News

I’m often asked if the pet food that the breeder or pet store recommended is OK for a particular dog or cat.

If you have a new puppy or kitten or just want to try a new food you can use the following guidelines to help you.  No matter which brand you choose, be sure to pick a food appropriate for your pet’s life stage (puppy/kitten, maintenance food, senior food) and breed.

Questions you can ask the pet food manufacturer (call the # on the bag/can):

  1. Do they have a full time nutritionist?
  2. Do they have a research and development department?
  3. Do they have their own manufacturing plant?
  4. How do they insure quality control (Ingredients, end product, shelf life, accountability)?
  5. Do they have feeding trials?

You can also look at the Label:

  1. Does the label say it is a complete and balanced diet?  And what is the basis of this claim (feeding trial is best, “formulated to meet standard” isn’t as good).
  2. Label should state that the food meets the nutritional requirements established by AAFCO (Association of American Feed Control Officials).
  3. Is the “life stage” correct for your dog (puppy/growth, maintenance, senior, large breed vs. small breed).
  4. If the label says it follows AAFCO guidelines for “natural” it means there are no chemically synthesized ingredients except vitamins, if they are listed on label.
  5. The terms “organic”, “holistic”, and “premium” have no definition and, therefore, can mean anything the manufacturer wants them to mean.

I hope this helps!

Dr. Eric Grunder

Disclosure: If your pet has a medical condition and your veterinarian has recommended a specific food, please use that.