Is Anxiety Ruining Your Pet’s Summer?

This month’s Health Focus is Freedom From Anxiety!

Summer brings celebrations that often feature fireworks, explosions, and gunshots, but these things are frequently scary for our pets, who don’t understand the loud noises and bright flashes. Even if the fireworks don’t start weeks early in your neighborhood, Mother Nature is usually ready to deliver light shows of her own featuring lightning, thunder, and barometric pressure changes. Car rides or kennel boarding for summer trips can top it all off to make this a scary time of year for many pets.

Fortunately, there are a wide variety of things that can be done to help your pets be at their best and most comfortable. See below for some of the things we’re recommending this summer.

Team Up – Consult With A Vet

Our veterinarians are here to help with behavior, training, and phobias as well as your pet’s other health concerns. Set up a consult to discuss your pet’s particular fears, triggers, or problem behaviors and what can be done to help. Sometimes there is training that can help calm fears or manage frightening situations, other times there may be medications that can make things better or easier. Did you know there’s a great anti-nausea medication for pets that can calm queasy stomachs and turn that reluctant car rider into an eager copilot? Or a jacket that can help provide a snug “hug” for a pet and may make thunderstorms easier even without ANY additional medications? Our vets are here to help your pets’ well being in all ways, including their sense of comfort in stressful situations.

vetteamconsults

Pheromones – Pill-Free Relief

Pheromones are chemicals processed through a pet’s olfactory system (the same system that processes smell, such an important sense to our dogs and cats!) that can have a direct calming effect on the brain without the use of oral medications. Specific products for both dogs and cats are available, and replicate chemicals that have a calming effect on the brain. For dogs, Adaptil® products are available as collars that can be put on in the morning if the weather is calling for thunderstorms so they can work gently throughout the day. Feliway® products for cats are available in a room spritz or even set-it-and-forget-it plug-in diffusers that are especially helpful for times when you’re having house guests, or that week around the 4th of July when there are stray fireworks going off in the neighborhood.adaptilfeliway

Nutraceuticals – Calm By Nature

There are some great non-prescription products out there that can be helpful as well. Some proteins and amino acids have been studied to support our pets’ sense of calm and healthy brain chemical balance. For example, the product Zylkene® makes use of a protein from milk, and Solliquin Chews use the amino acid L-Theanine from green tea and other botanical extracts to promote balanced behavior and relaxation. While we recommend you check in with our doctors before starting on any supplement for your pet, these products are over the counter and do not require a prescription. Consider adding them to your routine to help your furry family members to be more comfortable.zylkenesolliquin

This June we are offering 50% off the Behavior Consult exam with the veterinarians, and 10% off anxiety and calming aids, including all the products mentioned above! Help you and your pets have a great summer, and call us with any questions or to schedule a consult!

 

Lyme Disease Prevention

Our health focus topic for March is Lyme Disease Awareness and Prevention! Just like humans, dogs are susceptible to Lyme disease, and can have long lasting issues from contracting this disease.

Ticks in our area carry Lyme disease, as well as other nasty blood parasites like Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. Virginia is one of the states on the East Coast with a very high prevalence of Lyme disease.

Lyme Map

Unlike humans, dogs very rarely get the “bulls-eye” lesion on their skin after a bite from an infected tick. Some dogs will get an irritated area around a tick bite whether or not the tick is carrying a disease, and others will not react at all.

The disease itself can cause fever, lethargy, achiness and arthritis, and in some cases, even permanent effects on the kidneys. Just because your dog has been exposed to Lyme disease doesn’t mean that he or she will necessary develop these symptoms. However, since some dogs do experience illness, we strongly recommend prevention for EVERY dog in our area.

Lyme infection in dogs is only detected with a blood test. We use a quick, in-hospital test that only requires a few drops of blood to screen for this disease.

Knowing your dog’s status is an important first step in preventing or treating this disease!

If your dog tests positive, our doctors will discuss with you the next options, which could include further testing or medications. If your dog tests negative, he or she is eligible to start the Lyme vaccine series to help prevent future infection!

This month, Catlett Animal Hospital will offer 10% off Lyme disease vaccination and the testing to start the vaccine!

Additionally, if your dog completes the Lyme vaccination series for the first time, you will be eligible for a FREE gift…  your choice of a travel dog water bottle or a light-up, night time safety collar! (while supplies last!)

The Lyme vaccine is an important means to prevent disease in your dog, but tick prevention is ALWAYS the best way to prevent ticks and the many diseases they can transmit. We recommend keeping your dog on tick prevention year round, as our mild climate often means ticks can be active even in the winter months.

Help us protect your dog from Lyme disease this spring!

Caring For Your Pet’s Teeth At Home

This is the third article in our series of dental health articles, and arrives just in time for February, which is National Pet Dental Health Month!

In case you haven’t heard, our February Dental Health Month special is 10% off all dental procedures (see our article on the “COHAT” and what this includes!) as well as FREE dental goody bags for pets after their procedure. Read on for more information about what to do with the great home care samples you’ll find in that goody bag!

Home Dental Care – The Most Important Part of Your Pet’s Dental Health!

What would your breath smell like if you NEVER brushed your teeth? Like your dog’s breath, maybe? Our pets’ mouths have bacteria and plaque just like our mouths (and often theirs have more, especially depending on what your dog likes to chew…).

There are many things that you can do at home to support your pet’s dental health, to reduce buildup of plaque and tartar, and to prevent periodontal disease. None of these options require advanced or special skills, and any or all of them could make a difference for your pet. Your bottom line could benefit as well, as home care may be able to reduce the frequency of professional dental cleanings for some pets, and often, can prevent expensive tooth extractions or restorations later.

Brushing – The Gold Standard

Dog owner brushing an Australian Shepherd puppys teeth. Educational showing the proper method of handeling the puppy.

Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth is the absolute best way to prevent tartar and gum disease.

Ideally, we would brush our pets’ teeth daily, but the truth is even occasional brushing can still make a difference. The brushing action is the best way to remove the bacterial film that builds up on the surfaces of teeth, which would otherwise develop into plaque and eventually dentaltoothpastetartar. Pet-safe toothpastes in flavors like poultry, seafood, malt and vanilla-mint are available to help make the process more enjoyable for your pet, and may contribute a little to cleaning the teeth as well. You should not use human toothpastes with pets, as they frequently end up swallowing a good deal of toothpaste in the process.

Brush options vary from traditional pet bristle brushes to smaller rubber finger brushes. Human baby toothbrushes with SOFT bristles can be used as well, and sometimes work well for cat mouths or very small dogs. Experiment to find what is most comfortable for you and your pet!dentalbrushes

Introducing your pet to brushing could be a whole article itself, but the basic principles are: start young if you can, start with only brief sessions and work up, and make the experience fun and rewarding for your pet! Almost any pet can learn to have their teeth brushed and all will benefit from this special care you give them!

Here is a great video about dental disease that gives specific demonstrations of brushing and introducing your dog or cat to brushing!

Dental Chews, Treats, & Toys

dentalchewsThe chewing action dogs (and some cats!) enjoy can help them keep their teeth clean by physically rubbing off the bacterial film on the teeth, just like brushing can do. Some dental chews and treats may also contain other ingredients to help combat bacterial buildup. Brushing helps us address all the surfaces of the teeth – it has an advantage over products that clean the teeth by the chewing action because pets may chew using some areas of their mouth preferentially. They may be cleaning only those areas. Still, some cleaning of the teeth is better than none. Therefore, products that clean the teeth as the animal chews are still useful.

Dental chews and treats vary in how effective they may be – there is no regulation to prevent a company from claiming their product is good for teeth even if they have never tested it. Treats that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal have standards for their product with trials and are an excellent products with which to start. Other treats may also be effective, but one rule of thumb is if your pet is not actually chewing on the treat, they are likely not getting a lot of benefit from it!

Water Additives, Rinses, & Sprays

dentalrinsesWater additives and rinses are used to try to decrease bacteria in the mouth of our pets. Water additives like Oratene or AquaDent are put in the pets’ drinking water in small amounts, and act as a safe-to-swallow “mouthwash” each time the pet drinks. Oral rinses like DentaHex can dentallebaiiibe squirted over the pets’ teeth daily to help kill bacteria in the mouth.

Leba-III is a spray we offer that helps to promote a healthy bacterial balance in the mouth – it can be spritzed in the mouth twice daily to help keep teeth healthy.

Food – The Other Daily Dental Care Option!

td foodYou make an important health decision for your dog or cat every day – what to put in the food bowl! We carry not one but TWO food options that are clinically proven to help cats and dogs maintain healthy mouths. Both Hill’s t/d diet and Purina DH have the VOHC seal and are available for long term feeding that daily helps remove plaque and bacteria. They are suitable for almost every pet, and can be fed lifelong. They may be an especially good idea to start early in pets prone to dental disease.

Both foods use special kibble technology to help clean the teeth as the pet crunches their daily meal. These work best after a thorough cleaning, as they prevent buildup on clean teeth, but both are beneficial in ALL pets to slow down plaque and tartar accumulation.

YOU Can Do It – And We’re Here to Help!

brushcatteethThese are all wonderful ways for you to take an active role in protecting your pet’s health! Dental disease is such a common condition, and with just a little effort on the home front, pet parents can make a BIG difference in their pet’s oral health!

Please contact us with any questions about getting started with home dental care for your pet! Our doctors and staff would love to help find the right match for you and your pet.

Holiday Safety! Xylitol, Salt Dough, Poinsettias, oh my?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! As you’re celebrating, are you aware of what you can do to keep your pets safe and happy, along with all the other family members?

 

Here’s a list of some great overview articles on important winter and holiday safety for pets!

 

Additionally, here are some specific things we’d like to feature for you this year in our efforts to keep your pets safe and healthy!

Xylitol

There has been an increase in products that use the artificial sweetener xylitol, which can be incredibly toxic to dogs. (and real bad for cats too!) Even tiny amounts can cause poisoning, especially in small dogs. For something like sugar-free gums, depending on the xylitol content of the particular product, we are talking 3-4 pieces of gum in a small or medium sized dog! More peanut butters and diet foods are being made with this, so make sure to check the label before you “treat” your pets to any special holiday snacks!

This link has a large list of xylitol containing products!

Salt Dough Toxicity

Salt dough toxicity has also been in the news recently, and while this is an infrequently reported home poisoning risk, salt dough Christmas ornaments are certainly popular and prevalent! The amount of salt in these homemade doughs can cause severe toxicity, neurologic issues, and even death in some cases. If your dog or cat is an “unpicky” eater, and eats things he or she shouldn’t, make sure that these decorations are kept up high!

Poinsettias – good news!

This falls in the category of good news! Poinsettias are one of the most commonly cited holiday hazards, and while your pets certainly shouldn’t go around chomping on them, the good news is that they are much less dangerous than other things on our watch list. Chewing a poinsettia is likely to result in some mouth and stomach irritation, but usually doesn’t cause lasting damage for your pet. All the same, it’s best to avoid letting your pets chew on these living decorations.

All of us here at Catlett Animal Hospital hope you have a very happy and safe holiday season 2015-2016!

Demystifying The COHAT – the Dental Procedure


October is a Dental Health Awareness Month at Catlett Animal Hospital!

As part of our ongoing effort to help your pets live long and happy, healthy lives we offer occasional monthly specials to address specific health concerns. Oral disease is a particularly prevalent but under treated condition.

In October we offer 10% off all dental procedures! We also provide free dental goody bags for your pet after his/her procedure, so you can continue with good oral health care at home. Feel free to call us for more information!

     540-788-6094

This year we are also releasing some articles addressing dental health on a more in-depth level. Please enjoy our article below!

COHAT: Complete Oral Health Assessment & Treatment – What Happens During My Pet’s Procedure?

When you, the pet parent, and our doctors decide a professional dental cleaning or other dental health treatments are beneficial for your pet, there are often questions about what actually happens during the procedure. We prepared this article to help answer some of those questions and help explain the
benefits to your pet.

First things first – why do we call it a “COHAT” and not a “dental”?

Many people used to refer to a veterinary oral exam and professional dental cleaning as simply “a dental”. However, we have shifted to calling the process a Complete Oral Health Assessment & Treatment, because that is a much better description of what actually occurs! The procedure is NOT just about cleaning teeth, but about a complete oral health and cancer screening, as well as treating and preventing oral disease for your pet.

Examination

During the COHAT, the veterinarian will first do a thorough examination of your pet’s mouth, including inspecting the teeth and recording any that are missing, broken, or diseased, measuring gingival (gum) pockets (an indicator of periodontal disease), evaluating the gums, cheeks, and tongue for any signs of cancer or other disease, and looking deep into the back of the throat. Since yourProbeChartDental pet is under anesthesia this exam is far more complete and detailed than anything that can be accomplished in the normal exam room. Subtle changes, masses hidden under the tongue, and other crucial findings can be made on this exam which could be missed on a regular, awake exam.

Treatments & Cleaning

After the examination, the veterinarian can proceed to treatment of any disease found in your pet’s mouth. This may mean scaling and cleaning away tartar deposits (very common) on healthy teeth, and following with a polishing to smooth the enamel and make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere in the future. The equipment we use to clean your pet’s teeth is similar to, or sometimes exactly the same, as what is used for people in a dental office. The ultrasonic tool for removing tartar that we use has different tips and settings for cleaning above or below the gum line; this is one of the most critical parts of the COHAT, as so much of our pets’ dental disease is actually below the gum line. Without cleaning this crucial area, your pet’s plaque and tartar will come right BeforeAfterDentalback above the gum line, and the disease will continue deeper below the gum line to cause jaw bone disease.

Sometimes teeth are so diseased that th
ey may be loose and wiggly, or the bone around them may be infected or decaying. These teeth are sources of disease and pain, and thus, we often need to extract them to provide relief. Other teeth may have less severe disease and be repairable with a root canal and restoration, for which we can refer you to veterinary dental specialists.

What About The Anesthesia?

We wish our pets would all “open wide” for our dental procedures, but even people have trouble with this request! Anesthesia is the only way we can safely do the deep cleaning required for your pet’s oral health. For routine cleanings, your pet’s total anesthesia time is often less than 20-30 minutes, althoughMonitoringDental if there are more advanced procedures or necessary extractions, it may take a longer. (Another reason to be proactive about dental care!) The dentistry patient receives intubation to ensure a clear airway for breathing, inhalant anesthesia, and supplementary oxygen; warming, and close monitoring including ECG, blood pressure, oxygenation, temperature, and an assistant to watch over them before, during, and after the procedure are also provided. While no anesthesia is without risk, every patient gets our best care during their dental procedure. Preanesthetic bloodwork, IV catheters, and fluids are always recommended and sometimes required depending on the health and age of your pet. Our goal is always the best and safest treatment.

 

Please always feel free to discuss options for dental care for your pets with our doctors! We want you to be comfortable that your pet is getting the best preventive or corrective oral care possible for their health and wellbeing!

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