Dental Disease is Extremely Painful:
10% off all dental cleanings, extractions, and medications for dental procedures!
The most stunning part of most dental procedures is how middle age to older animals act after them. Owners often comment that their pet is “acting like a puppy again” after a dental procedure at our hospital. What most people don’t understand is that dental disease is very painful for animals.
Our pets do a great job of hiding their pain. They cannot tell us with words. So, sometimes they will act grumpy or react when you touch around their mouth, but most of the time, those are the only signs of dental disease that owners will see. This is because animals in the wild are conditioned to hide their pain to survive. There is no doubt however that pets with dental disease suffer.
Most owners believe that their pet acting grumpy as he or she gets older is due to old age. Most of the time, it is due to the pet feeling painful. Pets with dental disease experience pain while eating, drinking, playing, and even at rest. Infection in the mouth causes some of the bodies most sensitive nerve endings to be constantly stimulated. Pets can get headaches from this constant stimulation. Infection is a powerful force in the body. It can spread from the teeth to the jaw and cause the bones in the jaw to disintegrate along with the tooth roots. This will cause permanent damage to the jaw bones making it impossible for the jaw to function properly.
Animals three years old and older need a dental exam once a year. Our goal is to stop the infection before the headaches and destruction of the mouth take place. Once calculus (hardened plaque) has formed on the teeth, it is time for a dental cleaning. By removing this hardened tartar, we take away the bacteria’s hiding place. The bacteria likes to live under this hard shell on the teeth and infect the gum along the gum line. That is the beginning of dental disease. Doing dental cleanings at this stage is very helpful for your pet because they do not have to experience the pain that comes with the infections of the teeth. Please be proactive about this disease. Your pet relies completely on you for his or her health. If you take care of your pets teeth, you will have a happier, healthier pet for many years to come.
An Epidemic! Overweight Pets:
53% of dogs in the US are overweight with 5% being classified as obese.
55% of cats in the US are overweight.
How to tell if your pet is overweight.
- Feel over the ribs and spine. If you can easily feel the ribs and spine but cannot see them, your pet is the perfect weight. If you have to dig to feel them, your pet is overweight.
- Look at their “abdominal tuck”. Does the abdomen look “empty” or is it rounded and hanging down. Ideally, the abdomen does not look empty, but also, does not hang. It simply tucks up into the back legs.
- Other areas that animals store fat is along their neck and over their tail head. Check these areas as well.
How to weigh your dog or cat.
- Using a baby scale for small dogs and cats is best. Typically, their weights are much lower than our weights. So, if the scale is a half a pound off that is significant in relation to these little ones total weight.
- For larger dogs (20# and above), weigh yourself then weigh yourself holding your dog.
- Use your veterinary clinic’s scale! :) Most veterinary clinics do not mind if you call ahead and ask to use their scale.
Why is my pet so overweight?
- Some breeds are prone to being overweight. Beagles, labs, rottweilers, and golden retrievers are only a couple of these breeds. These dogs require strict diet to maintain a healthy weight.
- People food. Those adorable begging eyes from our beloved pets are hard to resist! Human foods tend to be more calorie and fat dense than dog foods. Giving your pet a bite of meat or french fries is the equivalent to giving yourself an ice cream sundae or hershey bar. If they get too much, they will become overweight quickly.
- Lack of portion control. Leaving your pet’s bowl full of food or not understanding what amount of food your pet requires, will result in your pet becoming overweight. Most bags of food have portions to feed on the back. Find out from your vet what your pet’s weight should be and feed ⅔-¾ of the amount the bag tells you to feed for that weight.
- Endocrine disease. There are several diseases: hypothyroidism and Cushing’s to name a few that will result in your pet being unable to lose weight. If you are concerned, have your veterinarian run bloodwork as soon as possible.
- Portion control. This applies to treats and food. Treats should be less than 10% of the total calories in the diet. Also, feeding less food and supplementing with canned green beans or cooked carrots will achieve your pet’s weight loss while still allowing him or her to feel full. Remember: feed ⅔ to ¾ of what the bag suggests for their ideal weight. The reason you do this is the bag is counting calories for a very active dog (aka hiking in the mountains, search and rescue, etc). Most of the dogs we see in our practice are kept inside the majority of the day until their owners get home. They do not require many calories at all.
- Diet food. Sometimes getting patients to lose food on a regular adult diet is impossible. For those patients trying an over the counter or even prescription diet will oftentimes do the trick. Remember cut out all people food and reduce treats significantly during the diet.
- Exercise. If your pet is obese, this may not be a good idea (too much weight and walking can harm the joints), but if not, throwing the ball for 30 minutes a day, playing with a laser pointer, or going for a walk is great for weight loss. It also helps your pet’s heart and lungs!
- Don’t give in to begging. Food is love. That is how most owners show their pets that they care. It is so hard when your pet is asking politely, or in some cases, demanding food. Giving cooked carrots, canned green beans, and other cooked veggies are the only people food that are sortove okay to give when they are dieting. Remember calories add up. Also, feeding food high in sugars and fat increase your pet’s risk of developing pancreatitis, which is a lifelong disease of the digestive system.
- No people food. I know I’m saying it again. Truly, the calories in people food are too high to be given to your pet. Avoid this.
Why should you help your pet lose weight?
- Fat is an organ too and being overweight increases inflammation in your body and leads to other disease states such as: diabetes, arthritis, skin issues, heart issues, and increased blood pressure.
- Overweight pets are also at high risk for some or all of the following trouble breathing, heat stroke, compromised immune system, and decreased life span.
How do you know what’s really going on with your pet’s body?
Yearly bloodwork can take the mystery out of how healthy your pet is and is the only way to detect organ disease BEFORE your pet starts showing abnormal behavior. This is one of the most under used services we offer. So, this month, we are offering a discount!
Wellness Bloodwork Month: 10% off all Wellness Bloodwork
Package A (recommended for young animals: 1-5 yrs) –$74.95 → $67.46
($7 dollar savings from in house labwork prices!!)
Package B (recommended for adult animals: 5-8 yrs) –$129.95 → $116.96
($80 dollar savings from in house labwork prices!!)
Package C (recommended for geriatric animals: 9-15 yrs) — $169.95→ $152.96
($139.29 savings from in house labwork prices!!)
Lymes Disease in Pets
What is Lymes Disease?
We live in a beautiful Virginia with beautiful forests, grasslands, marshes, river, and mountain terrain. Unfortunately we and our pets are also living amongst deer ticks that are able to transmit Lymes disease to us. Lymes disease is caused by a tiny spiral-shaped bacteria called Borrelia burgdorferi. This bacteria lives in mice, deer, and other small mammals. Deer ticks serve as the vector that transmit Borrelia burgdorferi from wildlife to you or your pet. Both humans and pets can be bitten by the deer tick and contract Lymes disease.
What are the signs of Lyme disease?
Lyme disease can go unnoticed for several months (~2-5 months) post tick bite exposure. After this period of time, symptoms can include a fever (>102.5 F), loss of appetite, lameness, joint discomfort and/or swelling, and reduced interest in walking and exercising. In addition, your pet may have swollen lymph nodes, become dehydrated, and severe chronic cases can cause kidney damage. If there is concern that your pet may be suffering from kidney damage, then your veterinarian may choose to check your pets kidney function through bloodwork and urine testing.
How is Lymes Disease diagnosed?
Being in an endemic region (where Lymes disease is common) like Virginia, clinical signs such as arthritis raise our concern that we may be dealing with a Lymes infection. There are multiple tick-borne diseases that can sometimes look alike, including Anaplasma, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. Therefore, a snap 4DX is a great test to rule in and out Lymes disease. This test just requires three drops of blood and is able to identify Heartworm disease in addition to the three major tick borne diseases we look for (Anaplasma, Ehrlichiosis, and Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever.
Sometimes your pet may come back with a positive response that shows he/she was exposed to Lymes disease at some point, but it may not be an active infection that requires treatment. Fortunately, the Lymes Disease vaccine will not cause a snap 4DX to be positive. We like to follow up a positive snap 4DX with what’s called a Lyme Quantitative C6 Antibody Test that looks for a special protein. This test helps to distinguish between just an exposure to Lymes versus an active infection.
Lymes disease is not transmissible between animals, between animal to human, or human to human. It is important to keep in mind, however, that if one member of your family (pet or human) is diagnosed with Lymes Disease, it is a likely indicator that all individuals were exposed to deer ticks. The best next step is to have each family member visit the veterinarian or human doctor to be tested and set up a plan to monitor everyone should signs arise later on.
How is Lymes Disease treated?
Lyme disease is treated with antibiotics that are able to kill Borrelia burgdorferi inside cells, in which it likes to hide. Your pet is often placed on a course of Doxycycline antibiotics for a month.
Following the antibiotic treatment course, we recommend vaccinating against Lyme disease.
How Can Lymes Disease be prevented?
Regular use of flea/tick prevention supplied by your veterinarian. We have a mild climate here in Virginia, so using flea/tick preventative every month of the year is best. Stay vigilant checking your pet and yourself for ticks. A deer tick has to be attached to and feed off the blood of your pet for 24 hours in order to transmit Lymes Disease. Therefore, your speedy removal of ticks from your pet will help to reduce the risk of your pet becoming infected. To safely remove a tick, grasp it with tweezers close to where it is attached to the skin. Talk to your veterinarian about also considering the Lyme vaccine for your pet. This vaccine is a two shot series initially (first vaccine then a booster vaccine about three weeks later) followed by annual boosters. If you’re able to, try to avoid tall grasses, marshes, and wooded areas.
What does Lyme Disease look like in humans?
The classic first sign seen in people that have been infected with Lymes disease is the “bullseye rash” (erythema migrans) that looks like a target symbol. Pets don’t typically show the target lesion like humans. Similar to pets, people also will show fever, headache, fatigue, muscle, and joint pain. Chronic Lymes Disease in people can also cause chronic joint pain, heart, and neurological problems. If you find a tick on yourself, or someone in your family, it is best that you see your doctor to be safe.
Lymes Disease in Horses
Similar to dogs and cats, horses infected with Lyme disease can have fever and lameness. In addition, equine cases of Lymes disease can cause neurologic problems, dermatitis, and uveitis (moon blindness). Spirochetes are attracted to cells of the collagen in the joints, the aqueous humor of the eye, the meninges of the brain, and the meninges of the heart. Frequently, fatigue, irritability, and reluctance to work and be ridden are seen.
With the presence of clinical signs including swollen joints and lameness, a snap 4DX can be performed stallside to find out whether your horse may have been exposed to Lyme disease. While sending a blood sample to the Cornell College of Veterinary Medicine Diagnostic Lab to perform a Lyme Multiplex Assay is best to determine infection status, some owners may choose to do a course of Doxycline. Cornell’s Lyme Multiplex Assay test for Equine Lymes disease is able to distinguish between early and chronic infection. The test is able to measure for antibodies formed by the horse’s body in response to Borrelia burgdorferi outer surface proteins (osp proteins). For example, antibodies to ospF correlate to more chronic infections.
The best prevention of future Lyme disease cases is tick control and a Lymes vaccine. Currently, we have to use canine Lyme disease vaccines off label in horses. A study done by Cornell found that horses vaccinated with Novibac Lyme Vaccine had the best antibody response. Recombitek Lyme Vaccine had higher ospA antibody levels than Duramune Lyme vaccine. The researchers illustrate that it is critical for the efficacy of the vaccine to give a 2 mL, instead of a 1 mL dose. This boosts the amount of osp antibodies produced, as well as the duration.
Arthritis episodes tend to come and go.
Dental Care For Your Pet
Have you noticed your pet’s pearly whites are covered by tartar and plaque? Has their breath been smelly when they give you kisses? Caring for your pet’s teeth is a critical part of their wellness. Plaque and tartar carry bacteria that can enter your pet’s bloodstream and cause heart, lung, and kidney disease. Everyday we brush our own teeth, but what about our pets? They could really use our help to keep those pearly whites pearly. Developing regular tooth brushing routines and preventative care will help to prevent periodontal issues in the future, saving you money as well the stress of major periodontal problems your pet could encounter.
Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
We recommend brushing your pet’s teeth daily as the best way to prevent the buildup of tartar, as well as inflammation of the gums. However, any teeth brushing that you are able to do at all will make a difference. The physical motion of the bristles over your pet’s teeth helps disturb bacterial film that forms on the teeth. When you brush your pet’s teeth, concentrate on the surface of the the teeth that contact the cheek. If you finish the surfaces that touch the cheek, you can then try to cover the other three surfaces of the tooth. Don’t worry if you’re not able to clean all four surfaces of the tooth as the majority of tartar builds up on the cheek (buccal) surface.
You need to be sure to use a dog or cat specific toothpaste. Never use a human toothpaste as swallowing this can harm your pet. There are a variety of toothbrush options, including a finger brush or a soft bristle human toothbrush.
Don’t worry if you’ve never brushed your pets teeth before. It’s never too late to start! It is most helpful to get a young animal used to having his/her mouth and teeth handled with frequent short sessions and positive reinforcement. If your pet is not a puppy or kitten, then the same principles can be used especially with the help of a fun reward that follows. Keeping a tooth brushing session short and sweet with an activity afterwards that your pet enjoys such as a walk or a healthy treat is very helpful to the learning process. We are always happy to over the tooth brushing process with you, or refer you to helpful videos such as this one:
While you are brushing your pet’s teeth, please keep an eye out for teeth that are loose, broken, or painful. Take a look also at your pet’s gums to see if there is any swelling, bleeding, or masses. Note if your pet may also have any appetite loss, dropping of food from his/her mouth, and unusual chewing or drooling. Pay attention to any attitude changes your pet may have, as irritability can be a sign of oral discomfort. Any of the above observations mean that your pet needs to have an oral exam by your veterinarian. It is important to address these issues early so that they can be nipped in the bud.
Professional Dental Cleanings
The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that your pet’s teeth be professionally cleaned annually beginning at one year old for cats and small dogs and starting at two years for large breed dogs. In preparation for a professional cleaning, your pet will have pre-anesthetic bloodwork performed to be sure that he/she is a safe candidate for anesthesia. Your pet will be sedated, intubated, and carefully monitored under anesthesia for the procedure. During this time, your veterinarian is able to do a complete oral exam looking for periodontal disease and oral tumors. Since we are only able to do a brief oral exam in most awake patients, this is the best time for your pets whole mouth to be examined. Scaling is performed to remove plaque and tartar from above and below the gumline, which is very important to the health of your pets’ teeth. Scaling is followed by polishing with paste that smooths over the enamel surfaces. Fluoride or another type of barrier sealant is then applied to all surfaces of the teeth that act to repel plaque.
Dental Chews, Treats, and Toys
While frequent tooth brushing is the best way to prevent and remove the buildup of plaque and tartar, dental specific treats and toys can be a helpful adjunct to regular tooth brushing. One thing to keep in mind is that a dental chew will not clean all four surfaces of the teeth due to the way pets chew. This means that just the incisal surface of a tooth is cleaned, rather than the part of the tooth nearest the gums where plaque and tartar are most likely to accumulate. Treats that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council have met quality standards for removal of plaque and reducing tartar. Monitor your pet to ensure that they are actually chewing the dental chew or treat in order to receive the most benefit. As always, please use caution when giving your pets treats and chews to ensure that they do not choke or swallow these chews whole. Never give your pets bones, cow hooves, pig ears, plastic bottles, antlers, or rawhides.
Water Additives, Rinses, and Sprays
Water additives, rinses, and sprays help to reduce the bacterial load in a pet’s mouth. Oratene and AquaDent are examples of water additive products that act as safe to swallow mouth washes. Oral rinses like DentaHex can sprayed over your pet’s teeth daily to also help keep bacterial numbers down. We also offer Leba-III spray that can help the healthy bacterial balance in the mouth.
Foods to Promote Dental Care
Dry foods have more abrasive activity on the teeth than canned food to help remove tartar and plaque. Dry foods are also less likely to get packed in between the teeth and in the gingival (gum) crevices. Plaque and tartar will still accumulate on teeth in spite of feeding your pet a dry diet even a dental diet. Always keep in mind that a dental diet does not replace regular teeth brushing. Some dental diets include Canine and Feline t/d and Science Diet Oral Care and Eukanuba Dental Defense Diet.Here is a link that provides a list of dental diets:
-AVMA Pet Dental Care
-AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats
-American Veterinary Dental College
During the month of November, Compassion Animal Hospital is offerring 10% off Microchipping all dogs and cats!!
Read below for more information..
Microchipping your pets
Hundreds of dogs and cats go missing every year. Eventually, they are found and brought to the local animal shelter where volunteers desperately search for the animal’s owner often with little to no success. Along the same lines, owners of lost animals will contact local shelters, put up flyers, and use technology (such as facebook and shelter pages) in hopes that they will find their lost pet. Even with all of this, most pets are never returned to their homes.
You might think that collars and/or identification tags would aid in helping return pets home. This is a false hope however. Sometimes during their time astray, collars and/or tags often slip off. Thankfully, there is a small device that will help aid in identification for lost pets handed into the local shelters: a microhip.
Microchipping is an important element of pet identification. This is a small glass cylinder about the size of a grain of rice that contains a radio transmitter and an electronic device containing the animal’s ID number. This number links to your contact information in an online registry that allows shelters, clinics, veterinarians, and humane organizations to contact you if your lost pet is found. This microchip is not a tracking device that can be used to pinpoint a pet’s exact location. It simply holds a code that is linked to your contact information. This device is injected just under the skin between the shoulder blades similar to any standard injection procedure. However, to accommodate the microchip, it does require a slightly larger needle. This chip will last over 25 years, which is well beyond the lifespan of most pets. According to a 2009 study, it was found that cats with microchips were 20 times more likely to be returned home than cats without, while dogs were 2.5 times more likely to be returned home than those without.
It is important to know that in order for a microchip to work, you will need to register the microchip and keep your contact information up-to-date. These devices are reliable and use nationwide registries, but they depend on the information you provide. Ensure that you continue to update your information and provide multiple emergency contacts. Here at Compassion Animal Hospital we will microchip your pet for a one time 10% discounted fee. Ask any of our receptionists, technicians, and veterinarians for more information: 540-439-9016