How to train your pet to love tooth brushing

How to train your pet to love tooth brushing

 

Dental disease is one of the most common conditions that veterinarians diagnose in our canine and feline patients. Besides contributing to bad breath, dental disease can also result in pain and infection, which can cause a pet to become inappetant or ill. The most successful way to prevent dental disease in our pets is the same way we prevent dental disease in ourselves: daily tooth brushing. Although this can sound intimidating, most pets will learn to love tooth brushing with the appropriate training schedule. Even cats can be taught to participate in their own dental care when the training is slow, consistent, and full of positive reinforcement.

Step #1: Start brushing your pet’s teeth as early as possible! Although puppies and kittens may be taught to accept tooth brushing more easily, it is never too late for an animal to learn.

Step #2: Collect the supplies needed. There are many different kits used for pet dental care- some include finger brushes, others include more traditional toothbrushes with soft bristles. Either type of brush can work, depending on the pet. Pet toothpaste often comes in flavors such as poultry (the most popular flavor for both dogs and cats), beef, tuna and vanilla mint. Try out these flavors to see which your pet prefers. These toothpastes are enzymatic, meaning that they will continue to break down plaque on the teeth even after brushing is completed.

Note- do not use human toothpastes in dogs and cats. Animals end up swallowing a significant amount of toothpaste during brushing, and human toothpastes can cause an upset gastrointestinal tract. Also, it is much easier to train pets to love tooth brushing when the toothpaste is flavored like a treat!

Step #3: Determine the best time and location for daily toothbrushing. Animals do much better when there is a routine associated with the task they are learning (this also helps us  remember to brush the teeth daily!).

Step #4: At the chosen time and in the chosen location, call your pet to you. Reward them with a small amount of toothpaste on your finger. This will teach them to see the toothpaste as a treat. Repeat this step once daily until your pet readily arrives for the toothpaste. This may require just a couple days for some dogs, but other dogs and most cats may need a couple weeks of training before they are consistent.

Step #5: When the pet arrives for toothpaste, provide it for them on the toothbrush instead of your finger. Allow them to lick it off the toothbrush. Repeat this daily until the pet shows no concerns about the toothbrush. Again, this can take days to weeks, depending on the animal.

Step #6: The next step is to get the pet to accept you touching his/her face while licking the toothpaste. Once this does not surprise the pet anymore, you can lift the upper lip on one side of the mouth to visualize the teeth.

Step #7: When lifting the upper lip on one side of the mouth, you can do a small stroke with the toothbrush and toothpaste. On the next day, do the other side. Continue to increase the time spent brushing, while paying attention to the comfort level of your pet. Make this process positive by praising your animal for good behavior.

Note- it is most important to contact the outer (cheek) side of the upper teeth when brushing an animal’s teeth, as this is where they build up most tartar. This is also the area that is most comfortable for animals to have brushed. You should also be able to brush the outer side of the lower teeth. Do not worry about the insides of the teeth near the tongue and palate. These areas do not build up as much plaque and can be addressed when the animal is under anesthesia for dental cleanings in the future.

Regular toothbrushing is easier to do when your pet enjoys and participates in the process! If your pet will not tolerate tooth brushing, please talk to us about other options to preserve dental health, such as dental diets, chews, and sprays. As always, even with regular toothbrushing, our pets will likely require regular dental cleanings under anesthesia over the course of their lives. The goal with toothbrushing is to decrease the need for these, resulting in less anesthesia time and better overall oral health for your pet.

Why bring your cat to the vet?

January is Compassion Animal Hospital’s Feline Health Month! This means 10% off wellness exams, vaccines, and bloodwork. We are excited to see your cats and give them the veterinary care they need to stay safe and healthy.

 

Why bring your cat to the vet?

  1. Dental Health/Feline Resorptive Lesions: By three years of age, most cats have evidence of disease around their teeth. Signs of this disease are very subtle, but the effect of dental disease on cats is serious. Tooth pain can reduce food and water intake, or worse, be the source of bacteria for the heart, brain, kidneys, gall bladder, and other organs causing your cat to have serious health issues that owners have trouble noticing until it is much too late to treat.
  2. Painful Arthritis: The majority if not all adult and geriatric cats have arthritis. They almost never show lameness or difficulty standing like dogs do. They hide, may not enjoy being touched, or may become annoyed. Some owners write this off to the cat getting older, but this is the cat’s way of showing that he or she is in pain. We can help make your cat happier and less painful, which makes them a much better pet.  Oftentimes, a joint supplement can really help a cat feel less pain and move better. Sometimes a pain reliever or laser therapy can be used for more severe pain or advanced arthritis.
  3. Vaccines: These are sometimes ignored for cats especially indoor cats, but the core vaccines: rabies and FVRCP are very important for cats. These are vaccines for severe diseases. If your cat gets them, they are fatal or at the very least severe and will require hospitalization.
  4. FeLV/FIV testing: This is especially important in multi-cat households. These are contagious diseases that pass from cat to cat through exchange of bodily fluids (saliva, blood, etc). FeLV: weak immune system, anemia, bone marrow shut down. FIV: equivalent of HIV in cats
  5. General Wellness: Cats are independent. They do not show illness like dogs, but they get sick much more often than owners realize. The key to effective treatment is early diagnosis. Screening for disease with wellness bloodwork can detect kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, anemia, liver disease, etc much earlier than when your kitty starts showing symptoms. That’s perfect! Then, we can start feeding a special diet or other medication before your cat is ill. This will increase your cat’s comfort and help manage if not cure your cat’s underlying disease.

 

Compassion Animal Hospital Welcomes Cats!!

January is Compassion Animal Hospital’s Feline Health Month! This means 10% off exams, vaccines, and bloodwork. We are excited to see your cats and give them the veterinary care they need to stay safe and healthy.

We at Compassion Animal Hospital know that most cats hate to travel and are not always friendly in a new place with people they do not know. So, we make a special effort to make your cat’s experience with us neutral if not positive. We use proper and gentle restraint with cats. Not all cats need to be scruffed for every procedure. Our holders know that. We make a special effort to allow your kitty to become aware of his or her surroundings and acquainted with us before restraining. When we do restrain, we try to show affection to your kitty first then hold them gently. We only scruff if the cat is showing aggression or if it is needed to collect a blood sample from the back leg.

Also, we have a special room for cats. These rooms do not have windows to minimize the stimulation of your cat’s senses and help him or her to relax. Additionally, we spray a hormone called Feliway in the cat examination rooms and waiting areas to help your cats feel safe and relaxed. This hormone is familiar to all cat’s and signals for them to accept and enjoy their visit. Our staff is also sensitive to your cat’s needs. We have a separate waiting area for cats. That way they do not have to sit right by our canine patients. This feline waiting area is also sprayed with Feliway. Our receptionists move our feline patients into a separate room if more people or animals come into the waiting area. Cats become very edgy with new people or animals. We do not want your cat to be scared or angry before the appointment starts. So, we try to be sensitive to anything that may trigger fear or aggression at any point during your visit.

What we do to help cats feel more comfortable during hospitalization.

Hospitalization can be very stressful for cats. The hospital is a busy place, and sometimes they are ill, which leads to higher stress levels. In the hospital, we offer cats a hiding box. This box is for them to hide behind to get a break from the stimulation of the office. Most cats really enjoy them and some even use them to relax and sleep. All feline cages are also given a “Buddy” or towel sprayed with Feliway. This is a hormone familiar to all cats that makes them feel safe and helps them relax. We also try to move them away from noisy dogs that may be staying with us. This combination often helps our feline patients feel much more at ease in the hospital.

Click here to read about why it is important to bring your cat to the veterinarian.

Microchip Your Pet!

 

We believe in microchip identification for all pets!

Getting lost pets home is our health focus for November, and we are offering 10% off our microchip placement!

 

WHY MICROCHIP?

As many as one third of all pets may find themselves lost or separated from their owners at one point in their lifetimes. Dogs get excited and run off to explore; fences are damaged in storms; delivery people or family friends accidentally leave a door open and a pet who normally stays indoors is suddenly out, scared, and lost – all of these can happen and create a very scary situation!

Pets should wear collars and tags with contact information as well, but collars and tags can come off or can be removed, while a microchip stays with your pet for a lifetime. Tattoos sometimes fade, and sometimes could be altered. A microchip is programmed with one unique number, and is in place for life.

Microchip implantation is a reliable way to ensure your pet’s identity is known wherever they may turn up – when a lost pet visits a shelter, animal control, or a good Samaritan brings a found animal to a vet, the animal can be scanned for the microchip and its unique identification number that can set him/her on the path to getting back home.

 

HOW IS IT DONE?

The microchip is inserted with a quick and simple injection in the loose skin between the shoulder blades of cats and dogs. (Other species may have different locations) After that simple process, your pet’s ID is in place for life. A physical exam is not required for microchip placement!

Once the chip is placed, a scan is done right away to be sure everything is functional! Microchip scanners are made to be universal now, and able to pick up chips from any manufacturer. Having your pet’s chip scanned every year is also a great idea, to make sure no shifting has occurred and help ensure your peace of mind.

 

HOW DOES MY PET GET BACK TO ME?

Once a lost pet’s chip is scanned, the person or organization will use the number from the chip to help get the pet back home. Through phone numbers and websites, the microchip number allows the pet’s rescuer to find the contact information for the pet’s owner. The American Animal Hospital Association manages the http://www.petmicrochiplookup.org/ which is a universal search site anyone can use, and one of the easiest ways to look up information on a scanned microchip number.

Each microchip contains a unique ID number – but no other information. Your personal information is NOT stored in your pet’s chip! ID numbers will need to be registered and kept up to date so that the number leads back to the pet’s human family members.

You will receive a lifetime registration form to complete and submit when your pet gets the microchip. Your pet’s number will initially be linked to our hospital, and then to you when you register. Make sure to keep your registration information up to date with us and with the microchip company!

 

Again, in November we are offering a 10% discount off all our microchip services! Please call us with any questions or to schedule to have your pet microchipped today!  540-439-9016

Veterinary Technician Appreciation!

It’s National Veterinary Technician Appreciation Week and We LOVE our LVTs!

 

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Our Licensed Veterinary Technicians are a crucial part of our team and we don’t know what we would do without them! 

Licensed Veterinary Technicians are highly trained professionals, responsible for everything from taking patient vitals, placing IV catheters, monitoring anesthesia, taking x-rays, performing bloodwork and urine testing, administering medications and injections, caring for hospitalized patients, answering client questions, providing knowledgeable pet care education, and offering comfort during difficult visits. ALL of our staff are amazing, animal-loving people, but these ladies have gone above and beyond to get additional training (which they maintain with regular continuing education courses) so they can provide the best care for your pets.

 

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The National Association of Veterinary Technicians in America (NAVTA) designates one week a year in October to honor these animal care professionals, but our appreciation for all they do is year round. If you are lucky enough to see Sam or Erin this week, please give them a high-five or some words of thanks for all they do for us. We couldn’t do what we do without them!

 

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