When the temps drop, companion animal casualties go up. These hot tips will help keep things cool this season:
- 1. Keep your cat inside. Outdoor, felines can freeze, contract infectious diseases, or become lost, stolen, injured or killed.
- 2. Antifreeze is lethal for dogs and cats. The sweet taste is attractive to pets. Be sure to clean up any spills from your vehicle, and use products that contain propylene glycol rather than ethylene glycol. Check garages and outdoor parking spots and clean up that bright yellow green fluid.
- 3. More dogs are lost during the winter season than any other, so make sure your pet wears identification tags and has a microchip. The microchip may not be a GPS tracker (yet) but if your dog is found most veterinarians and all animal shelters can scan them for vital information which will get them back home to you. If your pet will be exposed to snow or ice, especially during a snowstorm- they can lose their bearings and familiar scents and become lost.
- 4. Wipe off your dog's legs and under belly when they come inside. Dogs can ingest salt, antifreeze or other potentially dangerous chemicals while licking and cleaning their own paws, and the paw pads can become cut and may bleed from snow or encrusted ice.
- 5. When you bathe your dog, dry them completely before taking them outdoors even in moderate temperatures. Keep their coats clean and free of mats which can be painful and entrap foreign materials such as sticks, acorns, and twigs.
- 6. Never leave your pet alone in a car (whether it's cold or hot outdoors). The vehicle can become so cold, causing the animal to freeze to death.
- 7. Puppies do not tolerate the cold and may be difficult to housetrain. You may opt for an elimination station such as a wee-wee pad or dog litter box (not the same as a cat litter box) which you can purchase at PetSmart or PetCo or on line. If you dog is sensitive to the cold due to age or illness or breed type, take them outdoors for limited times just to relieve themselves. Remember, if its too cold for you to be outdoors properly dressed it's too cold for your pets.
- 8. If your dog spends alot of time outdoors, increase his supply of food, particularly protein, to keep him and his fur in tip-top shape. Make sure her water source doesn't freeze either as many pets will not automatically have access to other resources of clean fresh water. (no eating the yellow snow).
- 9. Before you start your car, bang on the hood of the car to alert outdoor cats who sometimes sleep underneath for warmth and can be injured by fan belts and other moving parts.
- 10. Make sure your pet has a warm place to sleep, off the floor, and away from drafts.
And a few other important resolutions for 2013 include:
- Make sure your pet receives a complete, comprehensive examination every year from your pet's vet. The annual physical examination and evaluation of lifestyle, life stage, life expectancy is the most overlooked pet health need, today. Most people take their pet to the veterinarian when a health problem already exists or only for routine vaccinations. Preventative medications, protective vaccinations, and early detection of subtle changes found by your professional veterinary team can identify disease risks that are key in protecting and treating your pets.
- Design a diet and exercise plan to meet your pet's specific needs. Obesity leads to serious dog and cat problems such as sugar diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, digestive upset and more. Exercise is important, and your pet will only exercise if there is motivation to do so. It's very hard to take that long walk when the rain or snow is pelting away. Ask your pet's vet for ideas for in home environmental enrichment that can substitute for this inactivity. At Animal Health Care we have an in- water (about 90 degrees sauna warm) treadmill just for this need in our active pets who can't exercise due to inclement weather! As your veterinarian, we can consider what stage of life your pet is in, the amount of activity your pet enjoys, and the time of year to outline a specific plan with goals. The right kind of diet and physical activity plan can add to the quality of your pet's life.
- Make your home a safe environment. Unfortunately, making your home pet-safe is often overlooked. Pet-proofing your home can lower the risk of serious pet accidents. There are several potential dangers of which pet owners should be aware. Poisons in the home that can seriously injure or even kill your pet include but are not limited to some kinds of plants (dieffenbachia, philodendron, hyacinth, mistletoe and poinsettia), antifreeze, and many medications. Electrical cords are hazards both to be caught up in and when chewed into. Keep harmful objects out of your pet's reach. A little prevention may be just enough to avoid a tragedy and a visit to the animal ER.
As a responsible pet owner, you can take a few simple steps that will go a long way toward keeping your pet health and happy. And, don't forget to ask your pet's vet: we're just a phone call, email or tweet away...
Cold weather can be hard on pets, just like it can be hard on their people. Sometimes we forget that our pets are just as accustomed to the warmth of our homes as we are. And after Super Storm Sandy we were reminded just how cold it gets (and it wasn't even winter, yet) when there isn't that thermostat to turn up: no heat... brrrrr! Not all animals are adapted to outdoor living so don't leave your pets outside for extended periods of time. If it's too cold for you to be outdoors properly dressed then it's too cold for your pets who share your home temperature conditions. Pets can be put at risk for serious danger and illness so let's review a few things that you can do to keep your pets safe and warm.
Take your pets to the vet for a winter check-up before winter kicks into high gear. As your pet's veterinarian we can check to ensure that any medical problems they may have do not make them more vulnerable to the cold. And, check their diets and weight to ensure that in the less active winter months there isn't going to be that "howl-a-day" weight gain!
Keep your pets inside as the temps drop but if they must be housed outdoors make sure they have had adequate time to acclimate: they need to get a heavier fur coat for those winter below freezing days, they need adequate shelter that is solid against wind, heavier clean bedding that can insulate them against the cold, and plenty of water that won't freeze.
Some animals can remain outside longer than others. It really is a matter of common sense that a short coated thin skinned dog will not do as well as a long-haired breed like northern breeds such as Huskies and Malamutes: bred for outdoor conditions (but again only if they're used to it should you assume they'll do well and they'll still need extra care and attention). Cats and small dogs are likely to feel the cold sooner as they often are shoulder deep into snow. Certain diseases also affect how your pet responds to temperatures and how long they can safely stay outdoors. Conditions like diabetes, heart diseases, kidney diseases, neurological dysfunction, dementia, thyroid and other hormonal imbalances can compromise an animal's ability to be aware of and regulate their own body heat. Animals that are not in good health should not be exposed to the stressors of winter and may need adjustments to their elimination schedules and set-up. Very young and very old animals are more susceptible to the cold as well. Regardless of their health, no pet should be outdoors for unlimited periods of time in freezing cold weather. You may need to provide shelter in a garage or basement when the temps drop below freezing. If you have any questions about how long your pet should be outdoors during winter, ask your pet's vet!
Cats will often curl up under the hood of cars to stay warm. Tragedy has happened when cats are caught in the moving parts of the car engine as they can be seriously hurt or killed. A good idea is to either check beneath and around the car and make noise by honking the horn using the auto key lock/unlock function and knocking on the hood of the car before your start out. Remember also that if you leave your garage open, animals are likely to get in seeking heat and shelter: you may just find a family of raccoons, outdoors cats, or mice taking up residence if they have the chance and the choice.
If you live near a pond or lake, be very cautious about letting your dog off-leash. Animals can easily fall through the ice, and it is very difficult for them to escape on their own. If you are near open water, stay with your dogs and have them within your eyesight at all times and have your cell phone ready and charged (assuming you have a signal) in case of emergencies.
If you have fire place or wood burning stove or a space heater, remember that your pet wil also seek the warmth from these sources. Check to make sure fur, tails, paws, and whiskers do not come in contact with flames, heating coils, or hot surfaces. Pets can burn themselves or knock over a heat source and put the entire household in danger.
It's also a good idea to have your furnace checked for carbon monoxide leakage before your turn it on. Put fresh batteries in smoke and other detectors now if you didn't already do so at daylight savings time clock changing. Also check chimneys: some animals are known to get in and nest causing back drafts into your home and unsafe fireplace conditions.
Pets that do go outdoors are at risk for chemical ice melters on their foot pads and in between their toes. Always remove any ice and rock salt from your pet's paws when you come indoors. This habit will prevent burns, irritations, and ingestion of materials that will cause digestive tract difficulties.
Keep an eye on water resources for pets. water bowls easily freeze and then there may not be anything to drink leading to dehydration and additional stress for your pets. These animals are more likely to drink out of puddles or gutters where they can ingest such poisons as anti freeze (which tastes sweet) and die from complications of kidney failure.
Be gentle with the elderly and arthritic pets during winter. Oh, those joints can be so stiff and painful! Our pets may become more awkward then usual getting their footing. Use supports for them such as slings or your helping hands to aid them when they are climbing stairs especially when they first get going. Maybe make their environment easier for them to get around using non slip surfaces and area rugs to help. Offer a softer thicker surface for their bedding, too. And if they need safe exercise we can have them use our underwater treadmill: heated to 85-90 degrees it's just the thing for those stiff,sore, achy joints. Watch also for signs of discomfort and pain in your pets. If they whine, shiver, seem anxious, slow down or stop moving, or seek warm places to burrow they're saying "turn up the heat please"!
There are 2 very serious conditions directly related to cold weather: frostbite and hypothermia. Frostbite happens when the animal's body gets too cold and blood is shunted away form the extremities such as ear flaps, toes, and tail to the center core of the body. Ice crystals can form in the tissue causing damage and even loss of these body parts. The tricky thing about frostbite is that it is not immediately noticeable. If you suspect frostbite, bring the pet into a warm environment and call your pet's vet. We can advise you how to warm up your pet gradually and resume circulation to these outer body parts. Your pet's vet can then assess the damage and start treatments for pain and infection if necessary. At Animal Health Care we have also used our LASER therapy to help restore function to these compromised body areas.
Hypothermia of a body temperature below normal is a condition that occurs when the animal spends too much time in cold temps or when animals in poor health or with poor circulation are exposed to cold. In mild cases the normal body response is to shiver and many will show signs of depression, lethargy and weakness. As the condition progresses, a pet's muscles will stiffen, heart and breathing rates slow and there will be poor to no response to stimuli (ie, calling out their name, touch, or offering treats). If you notice these signs you must get your pet warm and ask your veterinarian how to best accomplish this rewarming safely.
Winter is a great time of year. But watch out-- it can also be a dangerous time as well. If you take the above precautions you and your pet can have a fabulous winter. Or, you could always "snowbird" and take them to warmer climates with you....
Senior pets are not unlike senior citizens. They need more frequent physical examinations, often take multiple medications and can have "senior moments". Like their people, pets tend to lose muscle and balance as they age. With muscle and balance loss often come inactivity and weight gain, increasing the stress on already arthritic joints which often results in injuries from tripping and/or falling.
Senior pets can benefit from a wide range of exercises designed to improve heart function, increase stamina, strengthen muscles, increase flexibility with stretching exercise and stabilize balance. Most senior pets can benefit from massage, general exercise for balance and orientation as well as specific targeted exercise for strength and standing.
Many exercises and modalities are not just for senior pets. The same exercises can be used for injured, recovering, or athletic dogs in poor weather conditions. Cats can also benefit from these exercises, too. Improving range of motion promotes healthy joints, muscles and balance. These exercises are referred to as PROM: passive range of motion and often are performed with the animal laying down and relaxed. Care is taken to extend and flex each joint in a normal range of motion (ROM) without causing further injury. An example is the cookie reach exercise which keeps older dogs flexible with the added bonus of challenging balance and stability. And, there's a cookie reward!. The idea is that the dog must reach and extend to take the cookie in a variety of directions without necesarily stepping to get it. If a pet has balance issues, support may be needed and we recommend the Help'em up harness fo these animals.
Other therapies can be performed at Animal Health Care: these include the use of the hydrotherapy in the underwater treadmill and LASER therapy.
Hydrotherapy has long been associated as a major modalitiy in rehab. Walking in water and swimming can markedly improve mental health, muscle strength, increase stamina, aid in weight loss, and reduce joint inflammation, and decrease pain. Respiratory function improves, cardiovascular performance increases and there is generally a sense of well being after a session is completed. And, again not just for seniors but also for post orthopedic surgical patients, working or athletic dogs, pre- and post whelping (giving birth) and for good brain function. No pain only gain: and we don't mean weight because with better muscle function comes weight reduction!
LASER for therapy use can help pets in a number of ways. Energy level is increased, improved pain relief (analgesia), accelerated healing and decrease inflammation are common to most conditions treated at ahc. Generally there are 3 phases to LASER use. The initial phase, often more aggressive, is usually performed in the veterinary office 2-3 times weekly after an injury has been identified and/or after surgery. Then there is the transition phase which is 1-2 times weekly as the body is healing, followed by a maintenance phase which can be weekly, monthly or as needed to prevent further injury and control pain. Chronic ear, skin and joint problems are examples of using a maintenance therapy plan to benefit our patients. Almost all musculoskeletal disorders are responsive to LASER therapy. Examples would include acute trauma, sprains, strains, post surgical pain management and again as an integral part of rehabilitation in the senior pet who may face multiple problems.
The following list of musculoskeletal conditions will benefit from LASER therapy:
- cruciate ligament injury and post operative pain management
- hip dysplasia
- elbow dysplasia
- disc disease and back pain
- degenerative joint diseases
- neurologic pain
- loss of motor function and control
- muscle weakness
- most chronic conditions that require return to function for quality daily activities of living
The use of LASER in many dermatologic conditions adding to the traditional standard of care treatments can have dramatic results. Most patients exhibit relief of many signs in a shorter time with decrease in tissue swelling and inflammation appearing improved after 1-2 treatments. Examples include acral lick dermatitis: a chronic poorly responsive local skin lesion which often has multifactorial causes when added to hypersensitivity in the skin, joint disease, infection plus reinforced behavioral component. Almost like a child sucking their thumb which releases endorphins from the brain which causes the pet to get relief and then continue the licking associated with the chronicity. A self fulfilling activity!
And, just like the rest of the body, the brain is affected by the aging process. Damage to brain cells can lead to changes in your pet's behavior. Half of all dogs over the age of 8 and cats over the age of 12 will show some signs of brain aging. Changes in brain function occur very slowly. You may notice that there are subtle differences in behavior which may include increased sleeping (yes, I know cats sleep 23.5 hours out of the day so how can you tell!), lack of energy or increased irritability. There can also be changes in eyesight, hearing, taste and smell so that they start to interfere with your pet's daily activities of living and affects their quality of life functions. The following signs are commonly thought to be related to brain aging:
- failing to greet you
- not interested in normal playing
- wandering or pacing
- forgetfulness especially with house training
- seems lost
- unfamiliar with normal surroundings or routines
Of course, any change should be discussed with your pet's veterinarian as many of these signs can also have other causes that need to be eliminated before you assign the label of dementia to your pet. There are many age stage foods that we can recommend as the food your pet eats plays an important role in their overall health and well being. Balanced nutrition is an essential part of an active, healthy lifestyle.
And, finally a word about medications used in our senior pets. Please do not administer any medications without consulting your pets vet. A baby aspirin lasts 3 days in a cat and one Tylenol will be fatal to cats. Dogs have different metabolisms than people and are medicated with very different doses of common (to us) medications especially as they age. Arthritis is the number one problem affecting senior dogs and also cats. 1 in 5 dogs will exhibit signs of arthritis as an inflammatory condition that leads to pain and progressive degeneration of joints. Mobility becomes limited and pain interferes with daily activities. While many pets have arthritis and it is most common in older, overweight, larger dog breeds, this condition affects dogs of all sizes and ages as well as cats. A study done in cats over 12 years of age found evidence of arthritis on X-Rays taken for other reasons in these cats and yet their owners when asked said they did not cei their cats to have any signs related to pain. Many pet owners said, my pet is just slowing down and that was accepted as a natural sign of aging. And, because most pets are very stoic and hide their perceive it goes unrecognized and very under appreciated.
So, ask your pet's veterinary team about pain relief choices in your pets. No pet should be in pain and with so many options for control from rehab to nutrition to medications and supplements your pets can earn their AARF card with pride!
Ever wonder if your pet is at risk for certain diseases, medication reactions, allergy, arthritis, heart diseases, and more? Medical needs vary among the 185 + breeds and varieties of dogs and many breeds of cats. Hard to imagine the needs of a toy poodle would be the same as a Great Dane! So at Animal Health Care of Marlboro we have implemented breed specific wellness which we feel will improve our pet patient care, help strengthen the bond between owners and pets, and enhance the well being of the pets in our care.
Cats are not small dogs and have their own particular medical, dental, surgical, and behavioral needs. Breed specific wellness is a philosophical approach to veterinary medicine. Preventative breed specific well care targets breeds at risk and sets up screening for disease and problems not waiting until the pets have these problems. We want to be proactive rather than reactive in our approach to well care and that involves targeting our specific audience of breeds to enhance their wellness. Unlike law enforcement, we firmly believe in (breed) profiling:)
Many people are aware of hip dysplasia in German shepherd dogs but many other breeds: both big and small dogs and even cats can be genetically predisposed: a survey Xray of the hips at 6 months of age can identify many at risk before they're fully grown. Heart disease is common in Doberman pinschers as is a very specific blood clotting problem: blood testing can help identify those at dogs: kinda of good to know and prepare before they're being operated for their spay or neuter; don't you think? Persian cats are prone to cystic kidney disease: urine monitoring can catch early changes for diet, supplements, and medication needs to slow progression of kidney disease and/or failure.
We try to learn the health problems of specific breeds almost from the first veterinary visit: we have genetics and breed books that allow us to plan monitoring throughout the lives of our pets. These resources are crucial because there is no way we're going to remember each breed with specific risks and leave this daunting task to memory. Often, professional breeders know their breeds better than most veterinarians ever will and can be a very valuable resource: yes, we do listen and take notice of what runs in certain purebred family lines.
Most congenital or inherited problems manifest before the age of 5 years so we try to discuss with pet parents the risks and monitoring events that would be most beneficial for their breeds. But we don't neglect life stage risks either: we consider pediatric, prime, adult, senior and geriatric stages of life to have unique needs as well. And, we don't forget about our mixed breeds either. It is usually stated that mixed breeding imparts hybrid vigor or reduction in breed specific diseases. Or, commonly presented that mixed breeds are healthier than purebred breeds but until recently we did just that, assume. Now with genetic testing such as the WISDOM panel we can identify breeds in the mix and plan a better health care course.
We feel it's important to teach our pet parents about their pets predispositions. We are all influenced by our genetics and our environments which vary markedly. When we as veterinarians and as part of the veterinary health care team start looking more closely at the breed risk factors we can give our pet owners more information about their breed(s). That being said we also aim to present a consistent well care protocol for all pets as specific to the individual pet in the particular family situation. We know as the family lives change our recommendations may also change to better fit the needs of our furry kids. We focus on the life stage, life specific and life specialty of our patients.
We are happy to deliver breed -specific advice and well care either as a pre -purchase consultation or as your pet veterinary health care team during each and every visit with your pet.
Its diabetes awareneness month for people but pets get diabetes, too. Diabetes mellitus, or sugar diabetes, is one of the more common problems vets see in pets. This disease leads to chronic sugar overload meaning the blood glucose or "sugar" is too high. Insulin regulates sugar control and when your pets doesn't have enough or is blocked in your pet due to other medical problems, they can develop diabetes.
No single cause is known to be the blame for the development of diabetes but obese pets are at greatest risk. Diet and exercise play crucial roles in our prevention of this disease so go ahead ask your pet's vet. The most common signs of diabetes is increased water consumption, an increase in urination frequency (also known as PU/PD: polyuria/polydipsia) and changes in appetite. Weight loss may also be a sign of diabetes. There may be other reasons for these signs (29 or more: it was a test question for drdeb in vet school:-), but diabetes is always considered a possible cause. So, if you notice any changes in your pet's behavior or physical appearance it's always a good idea to visit the veterinarian for a check up. If possible bring a sample of your pet's urine (no litter please) because along with a blood sample we can check for many of those problems on that list of 29!
Diabetes most commonly affects pets who are the 3 F's-"fat:female:forty"; although any age pet, boys included can be at risk. Cats may develop diabetes mosre commonly than dogs and they often can have 2 types: insulin dependent and insulin independent forms. Male cats may be at greater risk and certain dog breeds may also have a greater chance of diabetes development: Keeshond, miniature pinscher, and cairn terriers seem predisposed.
High blood sugar will not go away by itself and must be treated according to your pets needs and with veterinary supervision. If diabetes is left untreated emergency treatment and hospitalization for coma, blindness and death can occur. You will become very familiar with your veterinarian: many, if not all, of my diabetic pet owners have my cell phone number on speed dial. It's one of those diseases that at least in the beginning requires a lot of team work on everyone's part! Diet plays probably the most important role just like in people. Fortunately, our pets aren't tempted by choices so it's up to the pet parents to regulate the type and quantity of appropriate foods to establish a foundation of control. Dietary recommendation for pets have changed recently especially for cats so now might be a time to review these choices with your veterinarian. All dogs and most cats require insulin injections to stabilize blood sugar. Even though many oral medications exist as choices for people, these medications don't work very well in pet diabetes regulation.
Once the diagnosis, testing and stabilization is complete, your veterinary team will show you how to administer, store insulin properly and sometimes home test your pet for response to insulin therapy. Remember, diet plans need to be followed, too, especially if your pet needs to lose weight. Just like in people, losing 10-20% of excess body weight can markedly imporve response to diabetes medications.
You'll become "frequent fliers" at your pet's vet during the first 3-6 months as we monitor your pet's progress. Some times a quick outpatient testing and re-evaluation is performed, but sometimes a blood sugar "curve" is performed in the veterinary hospital to assess the effects,duration, and proper dosing of insulin. Once the blood sugar is normalized the visit will usually be 2-4 times a year in conjunction with other well care/preventative care needs of your pet.
With diabetes, consistency is key to ensuring your pets best health. Close attention and keeping a diary will be the best way to assess success. Giving your pet medication and proper nutrition in the same quantity at the same time each day is ideal. There is, of course, some allowed variation for real life situations that may occur. Best to ask your vet when in doubt! If you're going on vacation or out of town, it may be better to board your pet at your veterinary hospital or have a pet care giver familiar with insulin injection techniques and schedules to care for your pet when you're away.
Here on some suggestions as you care for your diabetic pet:
- feed a diet that is based on your veterinarian's recommendation: this consistency is paramount in disease control
- provide regular, controlled exercise in a routine daily fashion: no weekend warriors here, please
- give medication/insulin at the same time every day: usually twice daily: if you need to adjust: check with the vet
- do not give insulin if your pet is not eating, is vomiting, and or has diarrhea. Call your veterinarian for immediate advice and recommendations
- keep a small container of Karo Syrup on hand in case of low blood sugar complications: your pet may be acting sleepy, disoriented, weak, lethargic if the blood sugar gets too low
- advise any veterinarian or emergency specialist if your pet is taking insulin-certain drugs can affect the way your pet responds to insulin
- spay and neuter your pets: the sex hormones and pregnancy (can you say gestational diabetes?), just like in people can really affect sugar balance: making regulation near impossible- "mother nature" is not one with whom to battle!
Treating a diabetic pet requires a high level of commitment and dedication from the pet parent as well as the veterinary team. With appropriate treatment, support, and encouragement, patience and love, your pet can live a normal comfortable life with this disease. Ask your pet's vet for help and if you feel you need more information or support, well, Animal Health Care is there as your pet's veterinary resource!
There is a recent fad emerging in the realm of veterinary dentistry which is being performed by unlicensed and unregulated individuals who have marketed the term "anesthesia-free dentistry". This terminology is misleading to the public and plays on the fears of anesthesia and the costs involved in the dental treatment and care of their pets. "Anesthesia-free dentistry" provides no benefit to the pet. Although the teeth may appear whiter, they are not healthier because it is impossible to perform an effective dental analysis and procedure, let alone position for xray and then formulate the treatment in an awake animal. The areas under the gum line and the inside areas of the tooth (next to that slobbering tongue) or close to the roof of the mouth are simply not fully accessible on the awake patient. In addition, a recent California case involving a jaw fracture led to a ruling against the party performing "anesthesia-free dentistry".
Accordingly, the American Veterinary Dental College has adopted the official position statement: "in the United States and Canada, only licensed veterinarians can practice veterinary medicine. Veterinary medicine includes vetrerinary surgery, medicine, and dentistry. Anyone providing dental services other than a licensed veterinarian, or a supervised and trained veterinary technician (read nurse), is practicing veterinary medicine without a license and shall be subject to criminal charges."
This position statement addresses dental scaling procedures performed on pets without anesthesia, often by individuals untrained in veterinary dental techniques... the term "anesthesia-free dentistry" has been used in this context. The practice of "anesthesia-free dentistry" is inappropriate for the following reasons:
1. Dental tartar or calculus is firmly adhered to the surface of the teeth. Scaling to remove tartar is accomplished using ultrasonic and sonic powered scalers, plus hand instruments that must have sharp working edges to be used effectively. Even slight head movement by the patient could result in injury to the oral tissues of the patient (and the operator may be bitten when the pet reacts! Technically this could be charged against the pet owner as a liability, too.)
2. Professional dental scaling involves scaling the surfaces of the teeth both above and below the gum line... followed by dental polishing. The most critical part of a dental procedure is scaling the tooth surfaces that are within the gingival pocket where there is active periodontal disease. Removing dental tartar from the visible surfaces is purely cosmetic and does nothing for the health of the tooth and/or the mouth. (Disclosing solution or blue wavelength light indicators, anyone?)
3. Inhalation anesthetic with protecting the airway provides important safety advantages-cooperation from the patient in a procedure they do not understand and elimination of pain resulting from examination and treatment of affected dental tissues during the procedure (count me in on this one point alone: pain is NOT fun and should be avoided at all costs), and protection from accidental aspiration of debris which can lead to much more serious concerns should this event happen.
4. A complete oral examination, which is an important part of a professional dental procedure is just not possible in an awake animal.
By the way, safe use of anesthetic medications in a dog or cat (or other species) requires evaluation of the general health of the patient to determine appropriate drugs and doses for each individual, every time! There is also the obligation for continued patient monitoring from start to completion. Veterinarians are trained in all these procedures. Prescribing or administering anesthetic, sedative, and pain relieving medications by a non veterinarian can be dangerous (e.g., a Tylenol tablet can kill a cat!).
Although anesthesia will never be 100% risk free, our anesthetic and patient monitoiring techniques used in veterinary medicine minimizes the risks and millions of veterinary dental scaling procedures are performed each year in veterinary hospitals.
Further information can be obtained from the American Veterinary Dental College website at www.AVDC.org. Additionally an informative video is available highlighting the dangers of "anesthesia-free dentistry" at www.youtube.com/watch?v=52brRO-2M7w.
As a New Jersey veterinarian, I cannot support individuals involved with "anesthesia-free dentistry" not only because of the ethical and potential legal ramifications, but because I refuse to put my pets and yours in jeopardy! I would rather provide safe and effective therapy for the pets because that's the responsibility you have given me.
Just ask my own dog, Mia, she'd bark her approval after her proper dental procedure 2 weeks ago: she didn't feel a thing while she was getting her mouth healthy and clean!
As the days get shorter and the nights cooler the one problem I can count on in my exam room is that when I examine my patients with a flea comb (yes, even the indoor cats and dogs) I will find evidence of fleas! The hitchhikers often leave behind telltale black debris (aka flea dirt) and what happens next is usually a shock! "FLEAS...!!!!", my pet parents say with dismay.... because we know that it is far easier to prevent a problem that to treat one. And those little bugs are just waiting to jump on a warm body and become your winter time nightmare guests.
So let's start with a few flea facts...
The flea is a hardy insect with a lifespan of 6-12 months. During that time, a pair of fleas can produce millions of offspring. There are 4 stages to the life cycle of fleas and this cycle can complete in as little as 3-4 weeks. The adults, which we see and leave behind the flea dirt (which takes 3 hours to produce: I wonder which research assistant was given that task to complete!) spend most of their life feasting on your pets. An average flea lives 2-3 months. One flea can multiply into over 1000 fleas on your pet and in your home in just 21 days!. A female flea can then lay ~ 2000 eggs. This stage of the life cycle as the name suggests incorporates a shell which makes the eggs resistant to many environmental control products.
Now, those eggs hatch into larvae which are microscopic and spend their time in your carpets, beds, furniture, pet sleeping spots, happily munching on shed skin cells (yours or your pets) and then they form another environmentally stable stage called the pupal stage (again another casing which is protective to the flea and resistant to our efforts!). This stage can remain dormant until the right conditions are present to allow them to hatch... and viola you have an adult flea which starts the cycle all over again. Fleas can bite over 400 times a day (who did that counting?) and a female flea can consume 15 times their body weight in your pet's blood (or yours) each and every day. Great.....!!!
OK, so fleas are tough to deal with but the good news is that no pet has to live with fleas.
There are many veterinary grade products that contain insect birth control and with the correct products for your pets you can eliminate a flea problem. But, again, once the flea problem is established it can take MONTHS to get control. Far better to prevent the problem and start NOW: continue year round. Fleas will die in the outdoor environments when we have a steady week of below freezing temperatures but it only takes one day at above 60 degrees to start them looking for a host: your dog or cat!
Whether or not you see the adult fleas (cats are notorious for grooming them off their coats), they, may be there! Scratching, especially at the back at the top of the tail and around the head and face are places that we often see affected. The "flea dirt" found on the skin (looks like coarse ground black pepper and turns brown to red when mixed with a few drops of water) signals that a flea has been there at least 3 hours ago and your pet is now the unwitting host for a family of fleas. YIKES... And, by the way, fleas can transmit some dangerous diseases (like Bartonella bacterial infection), cause anemia (low red cell counts) which can be life threatening and carry the intestinal parasite tapeworms, too. If you notice white rice like segments in your pet's poop or near their rear end near the anus: your pet has tapeworms and most likely fleas! Use a flea comb regularly to aid in detection of adult fleas, flea dirt and tapeworm segments. Remember, for every flea found on your pet there are 10-100 in the environment to take its place.
You'll need to vacuum and wash your pet's bedding at least once weekly: hot water please. There are environmental products that are safer to use than those chemical bombs and insecticides that, when you read the label, state a whole laundry list of precautionary statements for danger to you and your pets. Be careful with flea dips, too. We don't even let our professional groomer and pet care team members at Animal Health Care use these products: just too dangerous even under controlled circumstances. Too much of the same product or even using the wrong product can cause life threatening results. Cats have been killed when a dog product was used on them! Consider a professional exterminator and look into www.FleaBusters.com for safer environmental control products. And, ask your pet's veterinarian for the best products for your situation.
There are many products available for use on your pets and if what you're using, or have been using, is working to PREVENT a problem, then great: keep using them! But once a flea PROBLEM is identified, either by adult fleas, flea dirt, or tapeworm segments then you need to consult your veterinary health care team. Fipronil, found in many products, both OTC and in your veterinary offices has been shown to have flea resistance! Great product but because many fleas have seen this product over the years, they have become immune to its effective use. We first heard about this last January (2012) from our veterinary colleagues in Florida - the land of the flea. They were reporting poor response to some of our previously depended upon products. So now, what to do?
Well,we have an oral prescription product called Capstar that starts to kill adult fleas within 30 minutes of administration. We have some newer and hopefully more effective products for on-animal use. We know that all pets in the household, especially the cats, need to be treated. We know that those outdoor cats also need to be treated, if you can. You may need to treat the yard immediately adjacent to your home for a barrier of protection. And stay with it, it can takes MONTHS to eradicate an infestation! And, use these products year round in NJ at least: fleas will decrease in the outdoor environment after a week of below freezing temps but it only takes one day at or near 60 degrees to bring the flea out of its shell, literally! Far better to prevent a problem than be faced with treating one, dont' you think. I know we do!
And remember, we consider FLEA: a bad 4 letter F-word....
Research shows that the number of owned cats is increasing and there are now millions of more owned cats than owned dogs. But, many cat owners avoid visiting their veterinarians and scheduling veterinary visits for a number of reasons. Many cat owners find the process of getting the cat into the carrier a main stumbling block: you've got everything ready and then WOOSH: no cat to be found (where did they find that hiding place?). Then there's the ride to the veterinarian hearing their precious pussycat howling the entire way making for an anxious experience. Next concern, the waiting room or lobby where cats see dogs and other unfamiliar pets increasing the fear factor exponentially for both sides of the carrier and leash! And finally, the exam room, a space where the examination involves some insult (temperature taking) the use of very sharp objects (vaccination injections), and the potential for poking and probing (oh my!).
At Animal Health Care of Marlboro the veterinary health care team tries to make this experience as cat friendly as possible. We get our "kitty mojo" going on for you and your cat! We will take advantage of opportunities to improve wellness care with client education and proactive ways to diagnose diseases earlier to help ensure a longer, better quality of life for your cat. The veterinarians and pet loving team feel that this approach to caring for cats builds a strong relationship with our pet parents and improves the care we give our cats. Our strong emphasis on client relationships builds the loyalty and comfort that can lead to a more beneficial veterinary visit.
The goal of our cat friendly practice is to improve feline health and well being. We certainly believe the being proactive by identifying concerns before they become problems is much more effective in quality of life for our cats of all ages. We have the information and skills to treat our kitties from pediatric to geriatric for their medical, surgical and dental needs: our oldest patient in our practice was 26.5 years old and Dr. Breitstein performed surgery to remove a tumor on Patti at age 26 years: she did great and lived another 6 months before peacefully passing on!
At ahcmarlboro, we have implemented standards of care to help our veterinary practice become cat friendly both in the physical environment and in the ways in which cat health care is delivered. We try to remove barriers in veterinary visits for cats and their people to make the experience a positive one! Stress reduction is essential during examination (padded, soft surfaces), hospitalization (with visiting opportunities that fit your schedule), boarding (special kitty condos with natural lighting and interactive play), as well as use of feline aromatherapy (Feliway diffuser pheromones), and additional calming methods during other procedures such as diagnostics and X rays (with separate sleeping spaces for our cats away from the barking dogs).
We can teach you some effective ways to bring your cat in to see our animal health care team! We will listen to you and discuss your concerns so that we can form a partnership to be actively engaged in your cat's healthcare plan and individual needs. Our cat owners appreciate the empathy we show towards them and their cats- they appreciate that getting cats to the veterinary hospital is recognized and addressed. We are often told that their cats seem much more relaxed when visiting us because we show our love of cats of all types from the scruffy tomcat to the show cat and all the varieties in between. We are seeing more cats in our practice as the experience is being discussed between our clients as well as in our social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and LinkedIN. We're trying hard to make sure cat clients choose our practice for the care and comfort of the cats. So we know the word is getting out there: we love cats...and they purr for us.
But... if you don't like our catitude: call 1-800-get a dog :)
Good intentions go hand-in-hand when adding a new puppy or kitten to the family. Who doesn't want a house broken and obedient pet? Unwanted behavior, however, is the leading reason for euthanasia and shelter surrender in the United States according to the American Animal Hospital Association, an international professional association of veterinarians who treat companion animals. And, your be glad to know that your pet's veterinarians at Animal Health Care of Marlboro are members of this leading veterinary association.
Educating our pet parents is the key to preventing common behavior problems. We like to set rules and expectations from the start. If, even at the first well care visit a puppy or kitten exhibits unwanted benhavior it can easily be reinforced as a learned behavior. Dr. Deb says if she can't get a lick or a purr at that first visit she knows that education and demonstation of good socilaization techniques is in order. Basic training should begin immediately with diligence, patience, supervision, repetition and reward as motivators. New pet parents should be aware and supervising the new addition to provide the tools for a great learning experience. Normal pet behaviors such as house training, destructive chewing can be avoided by observing and learning the pet's basic needs and being aware of problem situations in which the pet can misbehave. You need to give pets the opportunity to succeed so don't give them the chance to act inappropriately, that way they don't learn to do it!
Young pets are willing to please and will be motivated by rewards which can often be praise alone. Correct unwanted behavior by encouraging and showing good behavior choices. So replace your shoe with an appropriate chew toy or try to put the litter box where the kitten can get to it: not down 2 flights of stairs and around the corner in the noisy laundry room: they just can't get to it reliably thereby setting up an unrealistic expectation and asking for failure. Food, affection, and praise are really effective motivators for good behavior in the young (and older) pet. And, don't forget that old dogs can and do learn new tricks!
Also important in raising a well behaved and adjusted pet is socialization. There are critical periods for socialization especially during the first 8 weeks of life of puppies and kittens. Introduce them to things and people likley to enter into their day to day living experiences. Equally important is puppy kindergarten where the pups can interact with their own peers speaking the same language and you can interact with other new pet parents. Often, I've thought that we should make that an available choice for kittens, too! Herding cats anyone? (go to YouTube for some really funny video).
So after all is said and done if you still identify problem behaviors in your new puppy or kitten or if you adopt and older pet, don't lose hope. Your pet's veterinarian is a great resource for advice and help as well as training products and services.
Every pet and every home is different. What might be acceptable in one situation may be a deal breaker in another. Many problem behaviors can be fixed or manged in a safe humane way so that the pet can be part of the family home. Many resources are available to help with problem behaviors. Consult your veterinary healthy care team of animal lovers: we're here to help!
Everyone knows that pets age faster than us: that "rule" of 7 pet years to every one human year is an average and especially useful for those of us who are mathematically challenged. Have you ever actually thought what that means for our pet's health and well-being? Does that rule even accurately reflect the aging of our pets? We know that we, as people, are living longer, hopefully healthier, lives with new and great medical discoveries, diet recommendations and choices as well as exercise programs avaialble to us so are our pets!
If it's true that pets age on average seven times faster than their people so visitng your veterinary health care team once yearly with your pet is the same as seeing your doc once every seven years. OK, yes, I'm hearing the groans about that and the comments about insurance pays for me to do that... more about that later, as I promise to talk about having insurance for your pets. And, the faster aging process that cats and dogs experience means that serious health changes can occur in a short period of time.
Many health conditions in dogs and cats can be more effectively treated if they're discovered early. By conducting a routine comprehensive physical examination and by talking with the pet parents about changes that have occurred in pet's behavior, it is often possible for the veterinary team to identify health care problems in early stages before obvious signs that accompany advanced disease are noticed. and, wellness exams for older pets are particularly important!
Most dogs and cats have reached their adult weights and are considered full grown by age 2 and are behaviorally mature at age 3. Some larger breeds are entering middle age by 4 years of age and can be considered a senior by 6-7 years. Just like their people, older animnals are at a higher risk for a number of problems, including sugar diabetes, arthritis, dental disease, heart problems and cancer. Many of these medical conditions are treatable if diagnosed early which is why we are so careful to recommend pet well care visits twice yearly and oleder animals perhaps even more frequently. Medication monitoring is also extremely important: chronic medication administration for one problem can ofter adversely affect other sytems in the body.
A typical wellness visit will include a physical examination, immunizations or vaccinations appropriate for your pet's life style and risk factors, a blood sample for heartworm status in both dogs and cats, a parasite check, a dental examination, a nutritional and weight assessment, and behavior questions. Your pet's veterinariian may also recommend baseline blood and chemistry profiling and a urine sample analysis. For animals over 6 years , screening for osteoarthritis (both dogs AND cats), hypothyroidism in dogs and hyperthyroidism in cats may be recommended. If your cat goes outdoors, annual blood testing for some viral and bacterial infections as well as some addtional vaccination protection will be recommended and discussed based on thier risk factors. Blood pressure testing to determine hypertension in dogs and cats which can lead to kidney and blindness problems is also important. Fortunately, unless you have a Schnauzer breed, cholesterol and triglyceride testing, although part of normal blood screening, may not be as important as for us: but then again our diets are much more variable than our commercially formulated complete pet diets based on life stage. Read those labels!
And, now, a little advice about pet insurance. If you are able to budget for your pet's well care, surgical spaying and neutering, grooming, food, play dates, toys, dental procedures, medications, flea and tick prevention, vacations/boarding needs, accidents and illnesses, emergency room visits in the middle of the night throughout their lives, well, you're ahead of the game. Most of us do not have the spare resources for many of life's unpredictable situations so here's where pet insurance can help. There are different companies and plans out there but you can ask your pet's veterinarian for advice. Pet insurance allows decisions to be made based on your pet's needs not your checkbook or ATM balance. So next time your pet's veterinary team member asks: if you have your insurance card or form with you they really are talking about your pet's best health.