Post-Operative Care of your Cat

catAfter your cat has undergone surgery there are some things to remember to assure a speedy recovery.

Anesthesia
Your cat may not feel himself for the next 12 to 24 hours. Keep him in a warm, quiet area, away from other pets, where he can rest and is not likely to injure himself. An airline kennel or a small room is ideal.

Never feed or give water to a cat that still seems groggy. Once your cat seems awake and alert, take things slow. Some anesthetics can cause nausea. Introduce water first. If all goes well, a small amount of food can be offered a few hours later. Wait until tomorrow to return to his normal feeding schedule.

Exercise
Your cat should be kept quiet today. For the next week, his activity should be moderately restricted. It can be difficult to keep a rambunctious cat calm, but do not encourage vigorous running, jumping, or rough play. Restrict him from areas where you know he likes to climb and jump, and avoid leaving him unattended with other pets with whom he normally rough-houses. Excessive exercise after surgery can cause swelling and delayed healing.

Some surgeries require more severe restriction or specific types of exercise. Be sure you understand your veterinarians instructions, and follow them diligently.

Environment and Grooming
Keep your cat inside today and tonight, even if he is normally allowed outdoors. It is unsafe for him to be out around cars and other hazards if he is still feeling the effects of anesthesia. If its at all possible, it is better to keep him in for a few days to a week. This will help him stay clean, and can help minimize excessive physical activity.

Make sure your cats bedding and the area where he lives are especially clean and dry. Your veterinarian may recommend a soft, shredded paper cat litter.

If the area around his incision appears soiled, you can carefully wipe his skin with warm water and a mild antiseptic soap, then rinse by wiping with plain water. Avoid getting soap or water directly on the incision.

Self-Trauma
A surgical incision may feel sore, itchy, or just different to your cat. His natural instinct is to lick, scratch or chew. If you notice him bothering his incision, ask your veterinarian if he might need an Elizabethan collar. The Elizabethan collar should be worn at all times when you are not watching him its amazing how quickly a cat can pull out a stitch when you turn your back.

Monitoring
Check your cats incision daily. Notify your veterinarian if you see any increase in swelling, discharge, bleeding, redness, or if you think stitches might be missing.

If your cat has a cast or bandage, check it daily to be sure its dry, clean, and has no foul odor.

Medications
If your cat has medication, thoroughly read and follow all label instructions. If you have any questions, your veterinary office can help. Always use the medication for the full duration prescribed, even if your cat seems better sooner.

Getting Help
Never hesitate to call your veterinarian or local veterinary emergency clinic if you think you cat may be having a problem. Your diligence may catch a complication before it becomes serious.

Disc Disease in Dogs

iv discAs pet owners, we all hope that our dogs never have to experience disc disease. However, this is a fairly common condition in some breeds and in many geriatric pets. Discs are essentially cushions that help to absorb tension and pressure between the vertebrae. Humans have this same mechanism and can also suffer from disc disease. By acting as shock absorbers, discs help to protect the very delicate nerves found within a dogs spinal column.

There are several reasons that may cause your dog to develop disc disease. In many cases, disc disease occurs due to a trauma, such as falling, jumping off of furniture, being struck by a car or even rough-play. Discs can also degenerate as a pet becomes geriatric. Obese dogs are very prone to developing disc disease as well due to the extra pressure on the back caused by the fat. Certain breeds, such as Dachshunds, Basset Hounds, Cocker Spaniels and other breeds with long backs can be more prone to developing disc disease especially if overweight.

The symptoms of disc disease are normally rather obvious. These signs will vary; however, depending on which disc is affected as this disease can occur anywhere on the spinal cord. For example, if your dog leaps from the bed and a disc in the middle back becomes slipped (known as a slipped disc), they will have greater pain in this area and the rear legs may be more affected. The abdomen may become rigid, the dog may tremble and in some cases they may even lose control of their bowel and bladder. In cases where a disc in the upper vertebrae around the neck is affected, the dog will likely have difficulty holding its neck and head up. In any case, the dog will be weakened and often lethargic. In severe cases, disc disease can also lead to paralysis.

As pet owners, we all hope that our dogs never have to experience disc disease. However, this is a fairly common condition in some breeds and in many geriatric pets. Discs are essentially cushions that help to absorb tension and pressure between the vertebrae. They can rupture applying pressure to the spinal cord and delicate nerves.

As pet owners, we all hope that our dogs never have to experience disc disease. However, this is a fairly common condition in some breeds and in many geriatric pets. Discs are essentially cushions that help to absorb tension and pressure between the vertebrae. They can rupture applying pressure to the spinal cord and delicate nerves.

As pet owners, we all hope that our dogs never have to experience disc disease. However, this is a fairly common condition in some breeds and in many geriatric pets. Discs are essentially cushions that help to absorb tension and pressure between the vertebrae. They can rupture applying pressure to the spinal cord and delicate nerves.

If you notice any of the above symptoms in your dog, you should seek immediate veterinary attention. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough exam and will likely need to take X-Rays to further assess the health of your dogs vertebral column. If caught early, disc disease can be successfully treated with medications. Anti-inflammatories, antibiotics, pain medications or a combination can be used to treat this condition. Be sure to closely follow your veterinarians instructions on how to administer these medications. Dogs with acute ruptures will need surgery to remove the debris in the spinal canal and relieve the pressure on the spinal cord. I had a disc rupture a few years ago which did need surgery to remove the debris and I must say that the surgery has given me great relief and I am now pain free.

Treatment does not just involve giving medications. Your pets activity may need to be restricted and jumping and rough-play are definitely prohibited. This means no more leaping from furniture! If your pet is overweight, it will also be very important to begin a high quality diet that promotes weight loss. Your veterinarian will recommend a diet that is right for your pet. Once your pet has been cleared for increased exercise by your veterinarian, regular walks will greatly benefit your dogs weight and overall health.

Summer time brings pesky parasites

Summertime temperatures are often a welcome relief for both people and pets, with cases of cabin fever. Unfortunately, the warm up also brings out those persistent perennial parasites… Fleas!

With an ability to jump 12-18 inches from a standstill, the 1/8″ long common cat flea is one of the hardiest pests that our dogs and cats will encounter. An appetite for blood, an uncanny ability to reproduce, and a short life cycle make this parasite difficult to control or eradicate. What’s worse, the fleas can carry diseases that can affect our pets and us! How can we help protect our dogs and cats from this annual menace?

Several thousand species of fleas exist, but the cat flea is the most common throughout the United States and Canada. Feeding on the blood of dogs and cats, occasionally these fleas may even choose to dine on us! With a preference for warm weather and higher humidity, fleas are most often encountered during the spring and summer months. It may come as no surprise to many that the increasing global temperatures are lengthening the flea season for many pets across the United States. In addition our warm homes in winter create a livable environment so fleas can quickly become a year-round problem!

Once adult fleas attack your pet, you can expect to have flea eggs in the environment within about 36 hours. These small oblong eggs will fall off of the pet into the carpet, bedding, or yard and actually hatch into larval forms of the flea within 1-10 days. The larval forms will spend time munching on organic debris, such as dead skin cells and flea dirt. The larvae then form cocoons from materials it finds in the environment. The adult fleas can actually hatch out of the cocoon within 1 second when stimulated by light, movement, or heat. Given optimal conditions of humidity and temperature, this flea life cycle can be completed in as little as 12 days!

Besides their ability to reproduce quickly, fleas also can reproduce in almost unimaginable numbers. A single female flea has the ability to lay about 2000 eggs during her short 100 day lifetime and a group of 25 female fleas can swell to thousands in just 30 short days! To make matters worse, adult fleas comprise just 5% of the total flea population in the environment; more than 95% are present as eggs, larvae, or the hardy cocoon.

Although itchy pets are the hallmark of a flea infestation, fleas also bring several other concerns to pets and their owners. Severe infestations of fleas can actually cause young kittens or puppies and older pets to become anemic from blood loss. Blood parasites, as well as intestinal parasites, such as tapeworms, are commonly spread through fleas. More serious infectious diseases of humans, such as bubonic plague and cat scratch disease are also connected with these tiny pests.

Fortunately, recent advances in flea control technology have given the pet owner a wide range of products that are not only effective, but very gentle as well. Utilizing differences between mammal and insect physiology, leading veterinary pharmaceutical companies have developed long lasting insecticides for our pets.

Although many flea control products can be found in over the counter outlets, pet owners are urged to see their family veterinarian before choosing a product. Some of the pesticides that can be found in grocery stores, TV ads and mass merchants should not be used on certain pets, such as cats.

The flea control products that are recommended by veterinarians have additional benefits above control of the adult fleas. These products will actually help to break the life cycle of the flea by killing the adult flea before they have time to reproduce. Most flea products sold at veterinarians will actually kill the adult fleas within 24 hours of application and this speed of kill helps prevent the females from laying eggs.

Your veterinarian can help you decide what product is going to be best for you based on several factors: what type of pets you have, what part of the country you live in, and what other parasites your pets are exposed to routinely. As an added bonus, your veterinarian is available to you if you have concerns about the performance of the flea products.

Neutering Your Cat

neutering your catNeutering, or orchiectomy, is a surgical sterilization procedure that can provide major health benefits for cats. Here are some important facts you should know before getting your cat neutered.

The Neuter Surgery
Orchiectomy is a surgery that is performed under general anesthesia. Your cats scrotum will be shaved and cleansed, and an incision will be made. The veterinarian will remove both testicles and tie off the spermatic cords. The skin incision is closed with stitches or surgical adhesive. Following neuter surgery, your cat will no longer produce sperm and he will have lower testosterone levels.

Although neutering is very routine, it still carries the risks associated with general anesthesia and surgery. Your veterinarian takes numerous measures to keep your cat safe, such as checking his heart and lungs before administering anesthesia and monitoring him constantly while he is asleep. You can ask whether your veterinarian recommends any additional safety precautions, such as pre-anesthetic blood tests or administration of IV fluids during the procedure.

Benefits
The normal behavior of an un-neutered cat is often incompatible with being a household pet. Intact cats tend to wander from home, seeking a mate or defending their territory. This puts them at risk for being hit by a car or being injured in a fight. Urine marking and some types of aggression are more pronounced in un-neutered cats as well. Although neutering may not entirely eliminate these behaviors, it can diminish them by 50-90%.

Intact male cats suffer from a high incidence of inflammation and enlargement of the prostate, as well as testicular tumors. Neutering your cat will greatly cut down on the incidence of reproductive related cancers.

The final benefit of neutering is that its the best way you can help end pet overpopulation. Every year, 3-4 million cats and dogs are euthanized in U.S. animal shelters. None of us wants to contribute to that sad statistic, but we may do so unwittingly. Kittens adopted to apparently good homes may be given away or lost.

Considerations Before Surgery
Consult with your veterinarian about when to schedule your cats neuter surgery. Traditionally, pets are spayed at around six months of age. However, some veterinarians advocate performing the procedure earlier. The night before your cats surgery, remove his food and water before you go to bed. He should not eat or drink anything during the night or the morning of his surgery.Big Cat

Considerations After Surgery
Your cat may go home the day of his surgery, or may stay in the hospital overnight. If he goes home the same day, expect him to feel a little groggy. Keep him indoors, in a warm, safe, quiet room away from other pets. During the first week after surgery, try to restrict his activity level. It may be necessary to keep your cat indoors for several days following the surgery and it will be very important to keep the litter box clean.

If you notice your cat licking the surgical site frequently, ask for an Elizabethan collar. Some cats develop a swollen or slightly bruised scrotal area following neuter surgery. Some swelling is normal, but don’t be afraid to ask your veterinarian if you are concerned about your cat.

The effects of neutering on your cat will not be instantaneous. Testosterone levels wane over a period of weeks or months, followed by a reduction in fertility as well as territorial and mating behaviors.

Cat Scratch Fever

Cat Scratch Fever

Cat Scratch Fever is not just a rock song from the 70s; it is a real disease. More properly called Cat Scratch Disease, it is the name of a condition in humans caused by the bacterium, Bartonella henselae. This microscopic organism lives in the tissues surrounding the claws of many normal, healthy cats. Although it is usually harmless to cats, Bartonella can cause illness in humans.

How People Get It

Most of the time, people get Cat Scratch Disease from a bite or a scratch from a cat that carries the bacteria. It can also be transmitted by fleas. In scientific studies, close to half of normal cats were shown to be carriers. The studies also showed that kittens are more likely to be infected than are adult cats. Children and teens seem to be more susceptible and more cases occur in the winter, when free-roaming cats spend more time in the house.

Symptoms in People

Cat Scratch Disease is typically a mild illness from which people recover without medical attention. The primary symptoms in people are a raised bump at the site where the bacteria has entered the skin and one or more swollen, tender lymph nodes. In less than 25% of cases, people experience a low-grade fever and malaise. The symptoms usually resolve in a few months without treatment.

More serious symptoms that occur rarely include infection of the eyes, brain, heart, lungs, skin or liver. These symptoms are more likely in immune suppressed individuals, especially those with active cases of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

Symptoms in Cats

Symptoms in cats are thought to be rare, but research is ongoing. Bartonella infection has been suggested as a cause of some cases of mild fever, loss of balance, and eye infections in cats.

Preventing Cat Scratch Disease

The best methods for preventing Cat Scratch Disease are good flea control and avoiding bites and scratches. Avoid rough play, especially with kittens. Don’t allow cats to lick open wounds, and wash all cat bites and scratches thoroughly.

Highly effective flea control products are available from your veterinarian. Keeping your cats claws trimmed or capped with disposable plastic covers are good ways to reduce the likelihood of a scratch. Your veterinarian can teach you how to trim your cats claws or can do it for you. They can also provide information and assistance with convenient nail caps to provide additional protection.

Immune-compromised people should be sure to inform their doctors that they have cats and should notify their doctors if they do get bitten or scratched. Early treatment with antibiotics can help reduce the severity of serious infections.

Rabies

Rabies is the most infamous disease that can be passed from animals to people. It has been the subject of so many novels and movies that it can be difficult to separate fact from fiction. Knowing the truth about rabies can help you protect your dog and your family from this deadly disease.

What is Rabies?
Rabies is caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It infects all warm-blooded animals, including people and is almost always fatal. In the United States, human cases of rabies are rare, only a few each year. The risk is still present though, since rabid animals are found in most states.

How Is It Spread?
More than 90% of reported cases of rabies today in the U.S. occur in wild animals. The species most likely to carry rabies include raccoons, skunks, foxes, bats, and coyotes. Even though rats have been targeted as a major source of rabies in fictional stories, they are actually very unlikely to harbor the disease. The number of cases in domestic animals is small but still represents a significant risk, since people are more likely to come into physical contact with them.

Rabies is usually transmitted via the saliva as a result of a bite from an infected animal. The virus enters the nerves near the site of infection, and travels through the nervous system to the brain over a period of weeks or months. Symptoms occur once the virus reaches the brain. This is also the time when the saliva becomes infectious.

Rabies in Animals
Animals with rabies often exhibit behavioral changes. Wild animals may act friendly, groggy or unafraid of people. Pets may act fearful or agitated. Other symptoms include excessive salivation, difficulty swallowing, lack of coordination, and paralysis. The only accurate tests for rabies in animals are performed postmortem. Animals suspected of rabies are euthanized rather than treated, because there is no cure.dog

Rabies in People
The symptoms of rabies in people are similar to those in animals. People with rabies are kept as comfortable as possible in the hospital, but there is no effective treatment for the disease.

Rabies Prevention
Fortunately, this terrible disease can be prevented. Here are some of the ways you, your family, and your dog can stay safe.

  1. Vaccinate your pets regularly, even if they live indoors. Vaccines are available for dogs, cats, ferrets, and horses. Vaccinated pets act as a buffer zone between rabid animals and you. If your unvaccinated pet bites someone or is bitten by a wild animal, he may be subject to a lengthy and costly quarantine.
  2. Help minimize the stray animal problem in your community. Have all of your pets spayed and neutered. Call your local animal control agency to remove strays in your neighborhood.
  3. Avoid contact with wild animals. Do not feed wildlife or allow your dog to chase or hunt wild animals. Keep garbage and pet food inside or in secure containers. Never try to keep a wild animal as a pet, or nurse a sick one back to health. Instead, contact a wildlife rescue agency for assistance.
  4. If your dog is bitten by a wild animal, seek veterinary care right away.
  5. If you are bitten by a wild animal or an unvaccinated pet, wash the area thoroughly with soap and water. Seek medical attention immediately. Be able to provide your doctor with the location of the incident, the type of animal that bit you, how the bite occurred, and whether the animal has been captured. Treatment immediately after exposure is extremely effective. Dont be scared away by horror stories about countless shots in the stomach the current procedure is much less unpleasant than it used to be, and is certainly preferable to risking the disease.

First Aid for Pets


First Aid for Pets

Our hope for you, as a pet owner, is that you will never encounter an emergency situation. However, reality is that accidents happen. In the event of an accident or emergency, it is always best to be informed and know the proper first aid procedures for your pet. This handout will outline the basics of canine first aid that every pet owner should know.

If my pet has been injured, what should I do first?

  1. Remain Calm. The key to any emergency situation is to be able to remain calm and avoid panicking in order to think clearly.
  2. Assess the Situation. While remaining calm, assess the situation and determine the proper first aid techniques to administer.
  3. Administer First Aid..
  4. Call or Transport your pet to the Veterinarian. After stabilizing the situation, contact your veterinarian for assistance and to give them advance warning of your pets condition and the care he may need to receive.

First Aid is considered to be the initial treatment given in an emergency situation. This treatment is given for the purpose of saving life, minimizing pain, and reducing the risk of permanent injury. First aid for pets is often administered by a knowledgeable owner and greatly assists the veterinarian in making your pets long term recovery a success.
American Red Cross Deluxe First Aid Kit for Pets
Before beginning first aid procedures on your pet, it is important to remember that if an animal is in pain, it may react differently to those around them. Therefore, care and caution should be taken to avoid being bitten by your pet out of pain, fear and panic. To begin First Aid on an injured pet:

  1. Assess your pet for Shock. Shock is the bodys response to a serious injury. It includes a severe drop in blood pressure and unresponsiveness. Some other indications of shock are rapid breathing, pale mucus membranes, vomiting and shaking. If your pet displays these symptoms, try to keep the animal as calm and as still as possible. Cover your pet with blankets, coats or newspapers to maintain and conserve body temperature.
  2. Assess and apply the ABCs of First Aid.
    A. Airway– Assess your pets airway to make sure that there is not any foreign object blocking the flow of oxygen to the brain. You should observe for things such as vomit, saliva, sticks, balls or other objects. If your pets airway is obstructed, do your best to clear or remove the objects, but make sure that you do not further lodge the item in your pets throat.
    B. Breathing– Observe your pet for breathing. If the animal is unconscious and is not breathing, apply chest compressions with the palm of your hand. With your other hand, feel for the animals pulse just above the elbow. If your pet is still not breathing, then close the animals muzzle, cover the animal’s mouth with yours and breathe in firmly and slowly. Remember that if you are unsure of the animals health history, vaccination records or veterinary record, it is best to avoid contact with all bodily fluids and blood.Dog First Aid book - With DVD

    C. Cardiac Function– If, upon feeling for a pulse, one cannot be detected then it may be necessary to perform chest compressions as well. Press down firmly, but controlled, with the palm of your hand on your pets chest. A simple form of pet CPR is to perform five (5) chest compressions to every one to two (1-2) breaths.

  3. Assess your pet for other injuries. Observe your pet for broken limbs or bleeding and administer the appropriate first aid.

American Red Cross First Aid Pack for Pets
Administering First Aid for burns, cuts or heat stroke?

  1. Burn– If your pet has been burned, cool the area as quickly as possible with cool water and cover it with cool, damp towels. If the burn was caused by a chemical, flush the area with cool water for at least fifteen minutes and contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.
  2. Cuts– If your pet is bleeding, examine the area for foreign bodies. If none are present clean the area and cover it with a gauze pad. Many cuts require medical attention and it is best to call your veterinarian immediately. If a wound is treated professionally within four hours, it can usually be sutured with successful results. However, after four hours of the accident, wounds have a greater risk of infection and serious complications.
  3. Heat Stroke– Heat stroke typically occurs in the summer months when pets are left in sweltering situations without adequate ventilation or water supplies. If your pet demonstrates the signs of heat stroke, which are excessive panting, distress and coma, then immediately call your veterinarian and take measure to reduce your pets body temperature. Soaking with cool water and fanning your pet, will allow evaporation to cool its body. Avoid using ice or ice water as these may bring down your pets body temperature too rapidly and cause complications.

Ringworm in Cats

Ringworm is not a worm but a form of a microscopic  fungus that affects animals and humans. Technically called dermatophytosis or dermatomycosis, the name ringworm was given because the ringworm lesion on people sometimes appears as a reddish circular area surrounding a crusty spot and it was once thought to be caused by a worm.

Ringworm is caused by many different species of fungus that can be picked in the environment or from other infected animals.  The most common species of  ringworm is caused by Microsporum Canis. The lesions can vary in appearance from patchy hair loss, to crusty spots to no signs at all.

Ringworm in your cat can sometimes be diagnosed with a woodslight (ultra violet light or blacklight). The fungus growing on the hair shafts will glow a lime green color when exposed to the light. Sometimes, the fungus cannot be detected by the light and special fungal cultures will have to be done. If there are lesions on the cat, a few hairs and crusts are placed on a special culture media to promote the growth of the fungus. If no lesions can be found and the owner suspects a cat for giving ringworm to the family, a sterile toothbrush is used to catch any loose hair and then the hair is placed on the culture media.

 

Anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks, if there was a fungus present it will grow on the media much like bread mold on old bread. The fungus also will turn the media a reddish color if it is M. Canis. The spores on the media are then microscopically examined with a special stain to verify the species of the fungus and to be certain it was not just an environmental contaminant.

If ringworm is verified on the cat or kitten, medicated shampoos can be used to help control the ringworm. Treatment is done for 6 to 8 weeks . Oral anti-fungal medications can also be used if the ringworm is generalized.  To avoid contaminating the environment with further spores, sometimes the cat will be shaved.

Most people do not get ringworm from their pet, but from the environment. The fungal spores are present at swimming pools, parks and anywhere where people congregate. If a pet is diagnosed with ringworm, treatment by medications will hasten recovery and further exposure to people and pets can be limited by environmental clean-up. If you have multiple cats in a household with the ringworm, clean-up will prove to be challenging.

  • All contaminated toys, food bowls, blankets, cages, scratching posts, bedding should be removed.
  • Any item that cannot be disinfected should be discarded or destroyed.
  • All items that can be washed should be washed with an anti-fungal soap, rinsed and then soaked in diluted bleach (1 part bleach to 30 parts water) for 10 minutes, and then repeated 3 more times.
  • Rooms should be cleaned including walls, ceilings, furnace vents, filters, under furniture, beds and refrigerators.
  • All surfaces should be vacuumed, scrubbed and bleached.
  • Change furnace and AC filters weekly.
  • Clean the ducts and vents with a commercial duct cleaner.
  • Rugs should be washed with an anti-fungal soap. Steam cleaning alone is not reliable, add a disinfectant to the solution to kill the fungal spores in your carpets.
  • Quarantine affected cats until the ringworm is gone.

Advances in Pet Dentistry

Doggy Kiss

For many people, dealing with their pet’s bad breath is just part of pet ownership. But, unfortunately, dogs with dental disease are at a higher risk for heart disease. How can you help to make sure your pet is not one of those destined to be on heart medication?

Most of us understand the importance of good oral health for ourselves and visit our dentist at least twice a year. But only a small percentage of people would do the same thing for their pets. Studies in human dentistry and medicine have shown that there appears to be an association between heart disease and dental disease. Is this true for our pets as well?

In a recent nationwide veterinary study, more than 45,000 cases of dogs with serious dental disease were reviewed. These dogs were compared with another 45,000 dogs of similar gender, age, and breed that did not have any dental disease. Their report shows that there appears to be a strong association between the health of your pet’s mouth and the incidence of other health issues, such as heart murmurs or even infection of the lining of the heart.

Dental care of dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care. A recent American Animal Hospital Association report on compliance within veterinary practices showed than less that 35% of pets who need a dental cleaning ever receive one. The reasons for this level of non-compliance are many, but often, pet owners will report that they just didn’t know their pets needed dental work or even that their pets suffered from periodontal disease.

Just as with people, periodontal disease in our pets starts the same way. It begins when food particles, saliva, and bacteria attached to the teeth produce a filmy matrix called “plaque”. If this matrix is not disrupted, “calculus” forms. More commonly known as tartar, the calculus makes the surface of the tooth rough and provides a better hold for more bacteria and helps to protect the bacteria from being dislodged. These bacteria will then infect the gums, causing a condition known as gingivitis. If not treated appropriately, gingivitis can progress into periodontal disease, destroying the bone that supports the tooth. It’s hard to believe, but there may even be an association between dirty teeth and other serious diseases. The same bacteria that cause dental disease have been found in the hearts of dogs with heart disease.

To help prevent dental problems from becoming a serious health issue, veterinarians recommend that oral health care start early. Your new puppy or kitten should become comfortable with you examining its mouth. Early training will help the pet to learn to tolerate brushing and other preventive measures and will help you recognize abnormalities. Simple awareness of the health of your pet’s mouth can help you to provide better health care for your pet. As your pet ages, a weekly check of the mouth may also help to find issues before they become dangerous. You should take time to look for plaque and tartar, especially on the large canine teeth in the front of the mouth and the big shearing teeth in the back of the mouth. Other potential areas of concern include fractured teeth, gum tissue that is overgrown or does not appear to be a healthy pink color, bleeding from the gums or any ulceration in the mouth. In addition to using your eyes, your nose can be an important tool as well. Pets are not supposed to have bad breath! If you can detect any foul odor, or if you see any problems in your pet’s mouth, your pet should be seen by your family veterinarian.

There is a great advancement you should know about. After you have done your weekly exam, you can further help to protect your pet by using a barrier sealant called OraVetTM. This product has helped to revolutionize at home dental care for pets. In less than one minute per week, your pet’s teeth can be protected and the effects of plaque and calculus can be minimized. By adhering to the surface of the teeth, OraVetTM gel actually helps to repel plaque causing bacteria. Without plaque formation, dental disease is much less likely to begin or get worse. For optimal results, see your veterinarian to have your pet’s teeth cleaned, followed by an initial application of OraVetTM applied after the dentistry. You then simply continue weekly applications with a home care kit.

You are an important part of the fight against dental disease. Working with your veterinarian, you can learn to identify potential problems earlier and help your pet lead a, healthier life.


Introducing the family dog to your new baby

Introducing Family Dog to new baby

Congratulations on your new baby! When most pet owners learn that they are expecting, they begin to wonder how their pets will react to the new baby and how to introduce them to each other. Introducing your dog to the new arrival is an important process and should be started well before the baby is born and arrives home. When working through the training process, remember that no matter how well you know your pet, accidents do happen and a baby should never be left alone with a pet under any circumstances. The process outlined below will help you as you begin the introduction process and your life with the new addition.

Most dogs learn quickly to adapt to a new baby in the home. However, extra precautions should be taken if your pet has ever shown aggression to adults or other babies and toddlers. Great care should also be taken if your pet has ever demonstrated predatory behaviors in the past. Predatory behaviors are such things as stalking, catching and/or killing small animals, such as birds, squirrels, mice, cats, other dogs etc. If your dog has ever demonstrated these aggressive behaviors, it is best to err on the side of caution and consult with a behavioral specialist. This specialist will be able to work with you one on one to develop acceptable behaviors in your pet and ensure the safety of your new baby.

The introduction process and essential steps should begin well before the baby arrives home from the hospital. Most non-aggressive dogs will view your new infant with great curiosity and after an initial period of exploration will adapt easily to the changes in your household. However, in any new situation it is essential that your pet know, understand and quickly obey certain obedience commands.

The two most essential commands for this introduction are sit and stay. These two commands may initially be encouraged with food rewards and should be practiced frequently. However, as these commands will soon be associated with the new baby, they should not be used as punishment or taught in a harsh manner. Instead, treat the learning process as a game and work to make it an enjoyable experience for your pet, as this process will soon be associated with the new baby.

Once the basic commands of sit and stay have been successfully mastered, begin teaching your pet to remain in the sit and stay positions as you move away from him. Once your pet will hold the sit and stay commands as you walk and turn away, begin adding in some elements that the animal will experience once the baby is home. For example, while holding a baby doll, give the sit/stay command and then proceed to feed, burp or diaper the baby. This will acclimate your pet to many of the new behaviors that will occur around the house and will soon be associated with the positive reinforcement of the sit/stay games. Be sure to reward your pet with praise, attention and food rewards during each step of this process, as the hopefully positive experience will soon be associated with your new baby.

Once the baby is born, but before it is brought home, bring home some of the baby’s personal items, such as a blanket or outfit. These items may initially be given to the pet to sniff and lick in order to become familiar with the baby’s scent. After this period, take the items and practice the sit/stay game by giving the sit/stay command and then performing common actions while holding the scent items. Also practice having the animal sit/stay while you are standing close to them with the scent items, this allows them to practice proper behavior with the new scent close by.

Your pet should be introduced to the new baby in a calm, quite and controlled environment. Unfortunately, this is not usually the description of a family just arriving home from the hospital. Therefore, the best time to introduce your pet to the baby is after the initial excitement period. Do allow your dog to greet the mother upon arrival and get used to the babies scent on her skin and clothing.

When the initial excitement has calmed, the introduction can take place. Depending on your pet, one person should either sit or stand while holding the baby. A second person should hold the leashed dog and give the sit/stay command. The dog should be allowed to slowly move closer to the baby as long as it obeys the sit/stay commands and is not unduly aroused by the babies cries, movements or scent. If your pet becomes agitated, then stop the exercise and begin again after the animal calms down. Once the animal is acclimated to the babies noises then, depending on your comfort level, allow the animal to sniff the baby, but do not allow him to get close enough to bite. After the animal is calm and obedient on the leash, then the same exercises should be practiced with the dog off the leash. Your initial introductions may take anywhere from an hour to a few days, depending on the comfort level and calmness of your pet. Once you are confident in your pets ability to remain calm around the new baby, allow him to wander supervised around the house. Be sure to watch his reactions and interest level in the baby, as you make this acceptance period a fun experience for everyone involved.

As a responsible pet owner, it is essential to remember that no matter what amount of introduction or socialization has occurred, an infant should never be left unsupervised at any time with a family pet. Unfortunately, accidents and aggression do happen. If you are at all concerned with your pets reaction to a new addition consult a behavioral specialist.