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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

How is your pet's dental health?

National Pet Dental Month


February is National Pet Dental Month.  When dealing with our furry family members, it can be easy to forget one of the most important aspects of their health: their teeth!  With progression of dental disease, the effects are not limited to the mouth.  At-home dental care and routine dental evaluations and care at your veterinarian can aid in the prevention of dental disease in your pet. 

There are various options available for at-home dental care for pets.  Brushing your pet’s teeth daily with a pet-approved toothpaste and toothbrush is one option.  This helps in removing the plaque that forms on their teeth at the gumline and aids in the prevention of calculus formation.  Dental treats or prescription dental diets are another option.  These treats or diets may contain an antiseptic, such as chlorhexidine, that helps to form a barrier on the tooth to decrease the rate at which plaque and calculus forms.  They are also typically formulated to provide an abrasive surface for the pet to chew against and “scrap” the tooth.  Other dental home care options include at-home oral rinses or gels, and water additives. 

A dental evaluation should also be performed yearly on each pet.  This is typically done at the time of their yearly examination.  Your veterinarian will make recommendations for continued at-home dental care and tell you if a dental scaling is warranted to address any accumulated calculus or problem teeth.  A dental scaling is performed under general anesthesia to allow for better evaluation and cleaning below the gum line and for pain control if extractions are needed.  Polishing of the teeth is performed at the end of the procedure and a fluoride treatment may be applied. If extractions are performed, oral sutures may be placed to close the defect and will dissolve over time. 

Left unaddressed, dental disease can progress to periodontal disease, where the structures that hold the tooth into place become affected.  Dental infections can seed bacteria to the liver, kidneys, or heart resulting in potential serious illness.   Small breed dogs tend to be more severely affected by dental disease than large breed dogs due to their small mouths and crowded teeth; however, all dogs and cats will benefit from routine dental care.  Call today to schedule a free dental evaluation by one of our veterinarians for your furry family member. (407) 366-4486.


Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Resolutions

      It is that time of year, again! Time for New Years Resolution’s, and for some this typically includes improving overall body health and fitness.  This is also the perfect time of year to consider these steps for our furry family members.  Obesity among pets has been on the rise in recent years, and is becoming an increasing health concern for veterinarians to address.   As pets become overweight and obese, significant risk can be placed on their overall health.  An increased risk arises for the development of reduction in overall mobility, earlier onset or worsening of pre-existing arthritis, respiratory difficulty, diabetes mellitus, kidney disease, bladder stones (in cats), or certain forms of cancer.  The more overweight the pet, the higher the risk of developing one of these diseases. 

                The best place to begin discussion of your pet’s weight is with your family veterinarian.   The assessment of a pet’s “ideal weight” is achieved through a subjective measurement of “body condition score (BCS)” or “body fat index (BFI).”  This is done visually by the veterinarian by assessing various regions of the body (face, head/neck, ribs, abdomen, tail base, shape from the side, and shape from above).  By using these points, the veterinarian can best determine if your pet is overweight or obese.  Screening tests, such as bloodwork, for pre-existing conditions need to be considered also, as some underlying diseases can cause weight gain in a patient with a normal appetite and appropriate feeding guidelines. 

                Once a pet is determined to be overweight, then the veterinarian can best recommend what options are available to aid for weight loss.  The first step typically taken is a weight loss diet, such as Hill’s Prescription Metabolic diet, Hill’s Prescription R/D,  or Royal Canin Satiety, to name a few.  It is also important to discuss how much your pet should be fed, which includes daily treats as well.  The veterinarian will recommend a weight loss diet plan that is appropriate for your pet.  The next step is to increase daily activity, which generally includes increased walks or exercise for canine patients and trying to increase exercise by introducing new toys or cat trees or using food puzzles/hiding food around the house for feline patients.  Low-fat treat options that can be used include carrots (raw or cooked, cut into small pieces), watermelon, boiled zucchini, green beans, apples, or bananas.  Remember to AVOID toxic foods such as raisins, grapes, nuts, avocadoes, onions, and chocolate, just to name a few. If you are unsure if a vegetable or fruit is safe for your pet, contact your veterinarian for guidance.

                Obesity is a growing problem amongst humans in the United States today, and veterinarians are seeing this trend in pets as well.  The beginning of a new year offers an opportunity for change for everyone, so why not include our furry family members in the change? Talk to your veterinarian today about developing a healthy lifestyle for your pet.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

            It’s that time of year again. Time for family and friends to gather for holiday festivities.  During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is easy to forget to plan for the four-legged family members.  Whether traveling or hosting gatherings at home, pet owners should plan appropriately for housing and care of their pets.  Planning will help to ensure everyone has a safe and happy holiday season.

            For traveling pet owners it may be necessary to schedule boarding reservations, find pet-friendly hotels, or check with airlines for pet-flying procedures. Many individuals choose to board their pet with the family veterinarian, but there are additional pet boarding facilities available.  When locating a boarding facility, you may want to plan a pre-drop off visit to view the facilities.  It is also important to review necessary vaccinations, flea prevention, and diagnostic protocols that may be required (i.e. fecal test for internal parasites).  These steps ensure that each pet cared for receives minimal exposure to contagious pathogens that can be transferred amongst dogs and cats in high density settings. 

            If you choose to take your pets with you while traveling, locate pet-friendly hotels on-line.  There are several pet-friendly hotel search engines available online that can aid in finding a hotel along your travel route.  For those traveling by air, it is important to contact the airline in advance to determine what may be necessary for the pet to travel (i.e. vaccinations, carrier restrictions, health documentation). 

            For pet owners staying at home and hosting holiday gatherings, there are a number of important items to consider. First, does the pet stress easily or become anxious with family or friends in the house?  If so, it may be beneficial to consider boarding these pets.  Other options include placing your pet in a quiet area of the house, or giving anti-anxiety or sedative medications if the anxiety is severe. 

            Tell your guests how to interact with your pets.  If a pet is fearful, guests should know not to approach him.  Don’t give your pets human food and monitor them around guest luggage to ensure no toxic foods or medications are ingested.  If you think your pet ate something potentially toxic or foreign, emergency veterinary care should be sought as soon as possible.

            The holidays should be a joyful time for everyone.  A little planning will help to ensure pet’s safety and the start of a happy new year.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Dreaded "C" Word

The Dreaded “C” Word

            As pets age, concerns arise regarding their overall health.  In some instances diseases can develop that may be terminal or require intensive treatment or management.  Just as in humans, one group of diseases that can strike fear in every pet owner is the dreaded “C” word, or cancer (also known as neoplasia).

            Like in humans, cancer in pets can affect various systems and organs of the body.  Some forms are more prominent or are at increased risk of occurrence in a certain breed or sex.  The typical age group for diagnosis is middle to old age (7 yrs old or greater), but it can be diagnosed earlier in life.  Clinical signs that can be seen will depend on what organ or system is being affected.  For instance, bone cancer may cause a lameness or swelling to develop on the affected limb; cancer of the gastrointestinal tract, liver, or spleen may cause a decreased appetite, listlessness, vomiting or diarrhea, or anemia (a decrease in the red blood cell count); cancer of the central nervous system may cause seizures, an unsteady gait, or change in a pet’s behavior (i.e. becoming aggressive). 

            How to determine a diagnosis will also vary based on what type of cancer is suspected.  The most common diagnostics that are performed in all cases include complete blood work, urinalysis, and chest radiographs.  Additional diagnostics that may be considered, depending on which organs are affected, include fine needle aspiration, biopsy, abdominal radiographs and/or ultrasound, or additional blood work.  Occasionally more advanced diagnostics such as CT scan or MRI may be needed.  Once a definitive diagnosis is reached treatment protocols can be discussed, which can include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, or palliative treatment. 

            There have been great advancements in the methods of detection, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer in veterinary medicine through the years.  There are increasing numbers of board-certified veterinary oncologists throughout the US that offer cutting-edge therapy to cancer patients. Research is continuously being conducted to determine earlier detection methods, clarify the use of biomarkers to aid in identification of the presence of certain types of cancer, and improve treatment options.  These enhancements are improving the veterinarians’ ability to maintain an acceptable quality of life for pets and their owners and hopefully improve longevity. 

            If you have any questions or would like to schedule a wellness visit for your pet, please contact us today at (407)366-4486 to schedule an appointment.

Friday, November 7, 2014

Help! My pet is peeing everywhere!

Help! My pet is peeing everywhere!

            November is Pet Diabetes Month.  When left undiagnosed and unmanaged, diabetes can be a fatal disease in dogs and cats.  By reviewing the most common clinical signs, potential risk factors that may increase the chances of development, and diagnostics and treatments available, pet owners will hopefully become more astute in monitoring at home and in the management of diabetic pets.
            When veterinarians discuss diabetes in pets, it is mainly in reference to diabetes mellitus (referred to in this blog as diabetes).  Diabetes insipidus does occur in dogs and cats but is rare. The clinical signs of this disease are different and will not be discussed in this blog.
 Diabetes is typically diagnosed at approximately 7-9 years old (cats may be 9-11 years old), and it is more frequent in female dogs and male cats. The most common complaint from owners of pets when diabetes may be suspected is an increase in water intake (polydypsia) and increase in urination (polyuria), sometimes to astounding amounts.  An increase in appetite may also be noted (polyphagia) with concurrent weight loss. With more progressed or severe disease, extreme lethargy or a decrease in appetite, abnormal gait in the hind limbs in cats, or the development of cataracts in dogs can occur. A serious progression of diabetes, known as diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), may occur if left untreated. 
            Diagnosis is based on several criteria.  First, appropriate clinical signs must be present. Second, blood work is used to confirm the presence of high blood glucose (hyperglycemia), as well as elevated liver values and cholesterol.  A positive glucose on a urine sample is confirmation of diabetes mellitus.  In cats, high blood glucose can occur without the presence of glucose in the urine due to stress; this does not indicate the presence of diabetes. Additional diagnostics, such as abdominal ultrasounds, additional blood work, or radiographs may be warranted to rule-out additional underlying diseases, especially if DKA is present. 
           Treatment may be short-term or long-term.  If DKA is present, short-term treatment may include hospitalization, intravenous fluids, insulin therapy, and additional supportive care as indicated.  Long-term treatment with insulin is aimed at lowering and managing blood glucose.  As insulin treatment continues and blood glucose stabilizes, the owner should notice a decrease in water intake and urination to “normal.”  Frequent blood glucose monitoring is necessary, typically through blood work, to ensure the insulin dose is adequate.  Once on insulin dogs remain insulin-dependent for life; however, some cats can become non-insulin dependent.  A diet change to a prescription diet may be recommended.  It is important to work closely with the veterinarian to ensure your pet’s disease is adequately controlled. 
            Not all pets will develop diabetes, but there are risk factors that may increase the probability of this occurring.  Obesity is often the most prominent risk factor.  Additional factors can include recurring or chronic pancreatitis, Cushing’s disease (hyperadrenocorticism), or chronic use of insulin-antagonistic drugs (such as glucocorticoids, progestagens). 
            If you are concerned that your pet may be exhibiting clinical signs related to diabetes, or would like to discuss if your pet may be at risk for future development, please contact your veterinarian to schedule an appointment. 



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fun Feline Facts

October 29 is National Cat Day. For all the cat lovers out there,  here are some fun feline facts that many cat fanatics may not be aware of:
1.       Cats can make approximately 100 different sounds.

2.       A group of cats is called a clowder.

3.       In keeping with the spirit of Halloween, black cats are considered to be lucky in Britain and Australia.

4.       Cats spend approximately 1/3 of their time awake grooming.  They spend on average 15-17 hours per day sleeping.

5.       Cats do not have the ability to taste “sweet” flavors.

6.       The average domestic cat can run at a speed of approximately 30 mph.

7.       Cats are crepuscular pets, meaning they are most active late at night and early in the morning.

8.       The Maine Coon breed and American Shorthair breed arrived on the Mayflower.

9.       Purebred cats mature slower than domestic shorthair cats.

10.   Not all cats will respond to catnip.  The ability to respond is actually a trait that is inherited in cats.  The reaction that cats have to catnip is speculated to be “hallucinogenic.”

11.   The “color points” located at the face, tail, and feet of the colourpoint breeds (such as the Siamese or Himalayan) is due to a temperature recessive gene expressed in hair located in cool parts of the body.  Therefore, it is important to remember that any hair shaved on these cats may grow back darker for some time due to the decrease in temperature in that region of hair growth!

12.   The longest whiskers on a cats face are called the mystacial tufts.  These are used for sensing location close to the face, especially prey, as cats have poor vision up close.

13.   The reason that only females are typically calico is that the gene coding for red or black color can only be expressed on the “x” chromosome, which makes female cats more likely to have multiple colors (XX vs XY of males).

14.   There are 4 distinct tabby patterns: mackerel (striped), spotted, classic, and ticked (agouti).  The tabby coloration is actually dominant to solid colors in gene expression.

15.   The “tabby” color pattern is thought to be the original color of domesticated cats.

16.   All tabby cats have a “M” marking on the forehead.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Halloween Safety tips, provided by the ASPCA

Happy Halloween

The ASPCA recommends taking some common sense precautions this Halloween to keep you and your pet safe from:

Trick or Treats

1.      No tricks, no treats: That bowl of candy is for trick-or-treaters, not for Scruffy and Fluffy. Chocolate in all forms- especially dark or baking chocolate- can be very dangerous for dogs and cats. Candies containing the artificial sweetener xylitol can also cause problems. If you do suspect your pet has ingested something toxic, please call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888)426-4435. 

2.      Popular Halloween plants such as pumpkins and decorative corn are considered to be relatively nontoxic, but they can produce stomach upset in pets who nibble on them.

3.      Wires and cords from electric lights and other decorations should be kept out of reach of your pets. If chewed, your pet might suffer cuts or burns, or receive a possibly life-threatening electrical shock.

4.      A carved pumpkin certainly is festive, but do exercise caution if you choose to add a candle.  Pets can easily knock a lit pumpkin over and cause a fire.  Curious kittens especially run the risk of getting burned or singed by candle flames. 

5.      Dress-up can be a big mess-up for some pets.  Please don’t put your dog or cat in a costume UNLESS you know he or she loves it (yup, a few pets are real hams!).  For pets who prefer their “birthday suits,” however, wearing a costume may cause undue stress.

6.      If you do dress up your pet, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe.  It should not constrict the animal’s movement or hearing, or impede his ability to breathe, bark or meow.  Also, be sure to try on costumes before the big night.  If your pet seems distressed, allergic or shows abnormal behavior, consider letting him go au natural or donning a festive bandana. 

7.      Take a closer look at your pet’s costume and make sure it does not have small, dangling or easily chewed-off pieces that he could choke on.  Also, ill-fitting outfits can get twisted on external objects or your pet, leading to injury.

8.      All but the most social dogs and cats should be kept in a separate room away from the front door during peak trick-or-treating hours.  Too many strangers can be scary and stressful for pets. 

9.      When opening the door for trick-or-treaters, take care that your cat or dog doesn’t dart outside.

10.  IDs, please! Always make sure your dog or cat has proper identification.  If for any reason your pet escapes and becomes lost, a collar and tags and/or a microchip can be a lifesaver, increasing the chances that he or she will be returned to you.

Animal Poison Control Center
Information gathered from ASPCA
American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals