When it comes to showing our pets how much we love them, many of us will go to great lengths to make sure they are happy and healthy. However, when you are constantly turning your head away when Charlie comes up to give you a hundred kisses after a long day of separation, Charlie isn’t getting all the love and there may be an underlying health problem. You see, Charlie’s bad breath can be the result of bad dental hygiene and the beginning stage of dental disease. Yes. You read that correctly. Dogs and cats need their teeth brushed daily in addition to a regular dental cleaning just like humans.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Here are some tips I have put together to help you learn more about pet dental health and how a few simple steps each day can help improve your pet’s overall health and happiness...especially when more kisses are involved!
TIP #1 - ASK ME QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR PET’S DENTAL HEALTH
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you notice something different or unusual such as bad breath, bring it up during the next visit you have with me. Bad breath can be due to a few different causes. However, it is also a huge indicator that your furry friend’s mouth may need some attention.
According to the American Veterinary Dental College, there are a few other indicators that your pet may have dental disease.
-Loose or discolored teeth or teeth covered in tartar
-Your pet is not comfortable with you touching within the mouth area
-Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
-Bleeding from the mouth
-Loss of appetite or loss of weight
If dental/oral disease is not caught in time, it can put your pet’s health at risk. Just like humans, bad bacteria in the animal’s mouth can get into their bloodstream and eventually find its way to major organs like the lungs, heart, and kidney. This bacteria has been known to cause major infections and even death.
TIP #2 - BEGIN A DAILY DENTAL HEALTH ROUTINE
However, if you are willing to put together a daily dental health routine, you may be able to greatly improve and maintain your pet’s oral health. You can feed your pet specially formulated food that helps remove tartar and plaque build-up. Using special toothpaste made for pets, you can also brush your pet’s teeth. Who wouldn’t love peanut butter flavored toothpaste? There are also non-toxic chew toys on the market to help with dental health. They also give your pet an outlet and a little play time. It is also important that you are checking your dog or cat’s mouth each day for any of the indicator’s above for dental disease.
If you are interested in creating a routine for your pet, but you just don’t know where to get started, then let me or my staff know the next time you are in the office. I am full of ideas and can help you get started with planning the routine that is right for your furry family member.
TIP #3 - SCHEDULE YOUR PET’S DENTAL CLEANING TODAY!
Just like yourself, your pet needs a regular dental check-up and exam. During the exam, it may be necessary for your pet to have his or her teeth cleaned in order to improve the state of their oral health. My staff at The Vet Clinic, Inc. and myself are well trained in pet dental care. In fact, The Vet Clinic, Inc. has the same setup as a dental office, and we follow the American Animal Hospital Association’s Oral Healthcare Guidelines to provide your pet the best possible dental care.
Even though February is National Pet Dental Health Month, it is important to take care of your pet’s oral health each and every day. Are you ready to get your furry friend’s dental care started? Give The Vet Clinic, Inc. a call today at (870) 425-0035 to schedule an appointment. Because each pet is different and unique in their own special way, a designated appointment is best and will give you time to ask me questions. For more information, you can visit AAHA's website to view Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats.
Day 1: National Pet Dental Healthcare month
I’m going to take a minute to brag on my awesome employees. We have completed more than 90 hours of continuing education since January 1, 2017! We are prepared to perform dental cleanings under general anesthesia for our patients. P.S. the state of Arkansas only requires me, a licensed Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, to complete 20 hours in a calendar year. My staff is amazing!
We spent an entire Saturday learning from Mary Berg, a Registered Veterinary Technician, who has been admitted to the prestigious Academy of Veterinary Dental Technicians. She is a big deal! She spent hours with us doing hands-on training as well as book knowledge. She perfected our skills taking dental x-rays and cleaning teeth. Mary came from Kansas City to give us the extra boost!
Another Saturday we spent with Jennifer Sager Certified Veterinary Technician who was admitted to the Academy of Veterinary Anesthesia Technicians. Jennifer came to us all the way from The University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine. She teaches anesthesia to veterinary doctoral students for her Monday-Friday job. She spent her time with us teaching everyone, even Chez and Bree (they sit at the front desk) about performing anesthesia. We are now more prepared and better at monitoring anesthesia.
Did I mention that we are one of only 9 AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) veterinary hospitals in the state of Arkansas? Woot WOOT! I am so proud of my staff and all of their hard work. Our patients, their parents, and I are so extremely lucky to have Amber, Amanda, Bree, Chez, Kathy and Haley!
For many, the new year brings a sense of a fresh start and a new beginning. It also brings cold temperatures. Mountain Home may not be the coldest part of the country, but many early mornings and nights tend to drop below freezing during winter months. And some years, we even see our fair share of winter precipitation like snow, freezing rain, and ice.
Here are just a few tips from The Vet Clinic, Inc. to help you keep your pet safe and warm in the colder days ahead.
KEEP PETS INSIDE IF POSSIBLE
Whether your pet is a primarily indoor or outdoor pet, you should try to keep them inside, if possible, during extreme cold weather. For your furry friend who is used to being snuggled up to you, limit outings to short potty breaks. If they seem a little restless, check out Dogster’s article on the “10 Ways to Engage Your Dog Indoors.” These activities can help your pet get a little exercise while having a little fun.
For outdoor pets you would rather not have inside of your home, you should prepare a safe place for them to get warm and get out of the elements. The ideal place should not only be warm, but dry. Make sure that the floor is off of the cold ground and make sure your pet’s drinking water doesn’t freeze.
PROVIDE A WARM SLEEPING AREA
When you get ready to add an extra blanket to the foot of your bed for extra warmth during colder weather, don’t forget to add warmth to your pet’s sleeping area. For indoor pets, this may mean adding an extra blanket to their crate or moving their sleeping area to a warmer area of the home.
For outdoor pets, create a space that is not sitting on the ground. You can add blankets or even straw to help retain heat. Adding a waterproof door such as heavy plastic is also a good idea. Adding heat lamps, heaters, and even a heating pad is not necessarily a good idea. They put your pet at risk for getting burned.
MAKE NOISES AROUND VEHICLES
This tip could save a cat’s life. During the winter, the warm engine your vehicle becomes a short-term source of heat. In order to make sure that your cat or other small outdoor critter is not under your hood, trying making a lot of noise like beating on the hood or honking the horn before starting your car.
KEEP YOUR PET’S PAWS CLEAN
Many pet owners understand precautions to take to protect their pet’s paws during the hottest months when hot pavement can cause damage. Winter weather can also be rough on your pet’s paws.
Extreme cold can cause the pads to become dry and cracked. There are also a lot of chemicals used during winter months like deicer and antifreeze that can get on your pet’s paws, legs, and belly. In order to keep your pet from licking and ingesting the chemicals, it’s a good idea to wipe them down each time they come inside. This will also give you a chance to inspect the pads of the paws for cracking and irritation.
DON’T LEAVE YOUR PET IN COLD CARS
Just like you don’t leave your pets in hot cars, you should not leave your pet in a cold car. The rapid drop in temperature can become life threatening. You should also never leave your pet in any vehicle unattended.
PROTECT YOUR PETS
These are just a few tips to help keep your pets protected and a little warmer this winter.
If you have any questions, visit our Frequently Asked Questions page or contact Dr. Sara Cotter, DVM and her staff at The Vet Clinic, Inc. in Mountain Home by calling (870)425-0035 or click here to send us a message.