Category Archives: Medical Advice

A Free Dental Cleaning is a Reason to Smile

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats exhibit dental disease by age three. Dental disease that’s not addressed causes infections and other problems elsewhere in the body. With good dental care, you can prevent these problems. Professional cleaning, when needed, is done under general anesthesia. The crowns of the teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler, and the portions of the teeth under the gums are hand-scaled to remove plaque that would otherwise damage the gums. The teeth are polished to produce a smooth surface to which plaque cannot easily attach, and all debris is flushed from under the gums. Finally, the veterinarian thoroughly examines the pet’s mouth and charts all findings in detail. Teeth are extracted only if necessary to ensure the health of the rest of the mouth. Good dental care keeps your pet’s mouth sweet-smelling and free of pain -– and helps the rest of your pet’s body remain healthy, too. If your veterinarian recommended professional dental cleaning, schedule it now and receive 10 percent off to celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month. Better yet, win a free dental cleaning (exam and cleaning; extractions not included) by entering the Show Us Your Smile contest we described earlier. And when the month is over, remember that good dental care is a year-round endeavor.

How to brush your pet’s teeth

Here’s part two of our series on good dental health for your pet. Last week we dicussed the benefits of good dental care. Before we move onto today’s topic — how to brush your pet’s teeth — please take a minute and enter our Show us Your Smile conest. The winner gets a free professional cleaning at our clinic. Second- and third-place winners get a three-month supply of Hill’s Healthy Advantage dog or cat food courtesey of Hills Pet Nutrition. Full contest details are available on our Facebook page. One of the best ways to maintain good dental health is to brush your pet’s teeth. Start by softening the bristles of an ordinary soft toothbrush with warm water and applying pet toothpaste to the brush. Pet toothpastes, which are flavored to appeal to pets, contain enzymes that are specific to the chemistry of the dog and cat mouth. Human toothpastes are not recommended because they are ineffective, foam too much and cause stomach upset when pets swallow them. Gently brush the cheek surfaces of the incisors, the front-most teeth. Over the next few sessions, extend the toothbrush further back in the mouth, so that eventually all teeth are brushed. The pet’s tongue removes much of the plaque from the inside surfaces of the teeth, so brushing should focus on the cheek surfaces of the teeth, where most of the plaque forms. You don’t need to rinse your pet’s mouth, because pet toothpaste is safe if swallowed. Tooth brushing is most effective if done daily, but every-other-day brushing also is beneficial.

It’s National Dental Month — Win a Free Dental Cleaning!

February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so this a good time to remember that dogs and cats benefit from good dental care, just as people do. Good dental habits begin early and include a healthy diet (preferably a dental diet approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council), regular tooth brushing, an annual physical examination to detect minor dental problems before they progress to major ones, and professional teeth cleaning when needed. We care so much about your pet’s health, that we are giving away a free dental cleaning as part of dental month. Just login to our Facebook page and join the contest. Simply post a picture of your pet’s “best smile” to enter. The winner is the picture with the most votes. Second- and third-place winners get a three-month supply of Hill’s Healthy Advantage dog or cat food courtesey of Hills Pet Nutrition. Full contest details are available on our Facebook page. The benefits of good dental care include more than sweet-smelling breath. Healthy teeth and gums decrease the risk of heart, kidney and liver disease, because bacteria in diseased gums travel through the bloodstream to these organs. In addition, good dental health reduces the need for tooth extractions. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, gingivitis (a red gum line which may actually shrink back from its usual position), loose teeth and decreased interest in food that requires chewing. Some pets even become lethargic as their mouths become more painful.

Survivor story: Nittany!

Nittany first came into our clinic feeling a little under the weather. By the next day he was in critical condition and needed hospitalization. We diagnosed him with diabetes among other ailments, and for the next few days we hoped for the best but expected the worst. He wasn’t eating and had very little energy. Together with his wonderful parents we were able to nurse him back to health and get him home. He still comes in for regular visits to make sure he is doing well. We are all very happy that he is back home with his family where he is happiest.

The truth about poinsettias

Poinsettias are generally quite safe, despite rumors to the contrary. The rumors are traced to the 1918 report of a child’s death involving a plant erroneously identified as a poinsettia. According to the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center, vomiting with loss of appetite and energy can occur after a pet ingests poinsettia, but these effects are mild and resolve on their own. The same signs, along with diarrhea, have been reported after ingestion of Christmas cactus and holly. Again, signs are generally mild and resolve without specific treatment. The toxicity of mistletoe, a parasitic vine, is influenced by the plant on which it is growing. Serious poisonings, which are infrequent, are characterized by vomiting and decreased energy. If your pet eats any of these plants and then vomits, restrict access to food and water for a couple of hours to quiet the stomach. If signs persist, call us at 610-488-0166. – Dr. Pickett

Keep Your Cats Safe At Christmas

Inquisitive cats that like to explore have a favorite season, and it’s upon us now. To protect your cats from themselves over the holidays, keep these pointers in mind as you decorate. Secure the Christmas tree to the wall with heavy cord to thwart cats who like to climb. If your cats bat at ornaments along the bottom of the tree, hang glass and other breakables high, and secure low-hanging ornaments with green pipe cleaners instead of hooks. Cover the Christmas tree stand so your cats can’t drink the water, which sometimes upsets feline stomachs. Don’t bring tinsel into the house, and don’t leave ribbon lying around, even if it’s attached to a package. Cats are attracted to tinsel, ribbon and yarn, which can cause life-threatening intestinal damage if it’s eaten. Candle flames, hot wax and potpourri liquid pose additional risks, so light candles and use potpourri warmers only when you’re there to supervise your cats. Keep your kittens away from mistletoe, poinsettias, holly and Christmas cactus, which can cause vomiting, diarrhea, diminished appetite and lethargy if ingested. Use common sense with light cords and other potential holiday hazards. If it’s not safe for a child, it’s not safe for inquisitive cats. – Dr. Pickett

Remember Old Yeller?

Remember Old Yeller? I remember crying like a baby when I saw it. And that was last week.

Well that story has hit home for local families over the years since we started our clinic. A barn cat located between Bernville and Strausstown bit two family members. A year ago a stray cat bit my friend’s dog. A couple months ago a stray cat he was feeding on his porch bit one of our clients. The scary thing is that when we submitted these cats for testing they tested positive for Rabies. There were many other exposures of people and pets over the years to various positive animals. So far in 2011 cats have been the most common tested rabid critters with skunks, raccoons, & foxes rounding out the list. My Cletus was trying to play with a skunk on our early morning walk a couple weeks ago.

Scientists are making some strides in the extremely difficult task of eradicating the disease in wildlife but exposure to domestic animals is something that is much easier to avoid. Vaccination is the key to eliminate the risk for most humans. Vaccinations are available for dogs, cats, livestock & some exotic pets. We do not recommend that anyone (who is not a rehabilitator) own any wildlife pets.

Pennsylvania state law requires all dogs and cats over 12 weeks to be vaccinated for Rabies. The first vaccine a pet receives, or a vaccine given at less than a year of age, must be boosted in 1 year. After that, boosters are determined by the license of the vaccine.

Remember that Rabies can look like anything, not just the classic mad foaming at the mouth. The animal may also be dull and docile or exhibit a wide range of neurologic signs. Therefore, always avoid close contact with wildlife and be wary of unknown domestic animals especially if acting abnormal. Also make sure your pets are kept up to date with their vaccinations and strays are examined and vaccinated as soon as possible. Don’t let this deadly disease or state mandated quarantines or fines be part of your life.

– Dr. Stephan