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Medical Alerts

Dental Care  

Pets At Risk: Bad Breath Isn't Funny Anymore

Frisco caught the guest by surprise in the living room. He planted a big, breathy smooch on her face. "Ugh! Dog breath!" The room erupted in laughter.

It wasn't so funny the next day when Frisco had his yearly check-up. The 2-˝-year-old dog was diagnosed with gum disease, and he was in danger of losing a tooth if he didn't begin a regular dental care program.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, Frisco's case is not unique. Studies show that more than 80 percent of dogs by age three and 70 percent of cats by age three show some signs of gum disease. Bad breath could be an early warning sign of the dangerous gum disease gingivitis.

Pets Need Dental Care, Too!

 Pet owners are reminded that dogs and cats need good oral care. An educational campaign to consumers, sponsored by the American Veterinary Medical Association and the American Veterinary Dental Society with an educational grant provided by Hill's Pet Nutrition, Inc., helps pet owners understand the importance of regular dental care for their pets.

Particularly at risk are small dog breeds, such as Pekingese and Shihtzu. Experts say these breeds are more likely to develop tooth problems because their teeth are crowded into small mouths. This can create a haven for plaque buildup.

Cervical line lesions (CLL) are the most common dental disease of domestic cats. Studies show that about 28 percent of domestic cats that veterinarians examine have CLL. Because the lesions often begin beneath the gumline, owners usually are unaware that there is a problem until the tooth is seriously damaged.

Prevention is the key to helping pets maintain good oral health. The American Veterinary Dental Society recommends that pet owners follow three important steps:
  1. Visit Your Veterinarian

    Just as dental visits are the cornerstone of a human dental program, visiting a veterinarian is the key to ensuring the health of your pet's teeth. A veterinarian will conduct a thorough physical examination of your pet as part of the dental evaluation.

  2. Start a dental care routine at home

    Removing plaque regularly from your pet's teeth should be part of your pet's home dental care routine. Ask your veterinarian about the procedure for brushing your pet's teeth. Dog owners also may feed specially formulated dietary foods that help reduce the accumulation of plaque and tartar from teeth when the pet eats. Your veterinarian can offer more information on dietary options.

  3. Get Regular Veterinary Dental Checkups

    The family veterinarian needs to monitor the progress of your pet's preventive dental care routine much the same way a dentist monitors your teeth. Regular dental check-ups are essential.

Once a pet's teeth display the warning signs — bad breath, a yellow brown crust of tartar around the gumline, pain or bleeding when the pet eats or when you touch its gums — gum disease may already be present. For a professional dental check-up, call your veterinarian today!


Cold Weather Pet Safety Tips 

As the weather turns colder, and we begin to bundle up for winter, it is important to keep in mind the little ones on our families that will need some extra attention. Below are some winter pet tips to make sure your furry family members are just as warm and cozy as you are.

1. Do not allow your animals unsupervised access to the outside after dark. If you have dogs, accompany them outside at night to do their business, but do not let them hang out there too long. If you have outdoor cats, watch that they are in the house before it gets dark, or if the weather is too cold during the day, keep them inside.

2. Sometimes outdoor cats will seek the warm solace of a parked car engine. If you have outdoor cats in your neighborhood, bang on you car hood to make sure there are no cats sleeping inside before you start your engine.

3. Always have your pet’s collar and ID on them. If you live where it snows, it can be harder for your animal to find the familiar scents they are use to and it may cause them to not be able to make their way back home. According to the ASPCA, “more dogs are lost during the winter than during any other season” based on this factor.

4. After being outside or on walks, make sure to thoroughly clean your pet so the salt or other chemicals in the snow do not get ingested by the animal. Also be aware of your animal’s paws while walking in snow. Get a set of snow shoes for them so they do not get frost bite.

5. Be aware of their coats. Giving your dog a shave in January is not a good idea! If your dog’s coat is lacking in warmth or length, or you own a small dog or cat with little body fat, invest in a pet sweater or coat to give them extra protection.

6. As in the summer, do not leave your dog in the car. Extreme weather outside, leads to extreme weather inside a vehicle. Your pet would rather wait for you at home while being warm rather than enjoy a car ride that leaves ‘um shivering.

7. Keep all chemicals out of the reach of animals!! Antifreeze is poison to your pets, and many of them are very attracted to the taste. Make sure to clean up any spills or leaks coming from your vehicle immediately. For more information, visit the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center.

8. Make sure your pets have warm places to sleep and are out of the way of drafts. Pet beds, blankets or a warm human to cuddle with are great ways for your pets to sleep at night.




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