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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.