Animal Health Week

This year’s Animal Health Week theme is Vaccines Save Lives*!

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) is reminding animal owners about these Five Reasons to Vaccinate:

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1) Vaccinations are safe and effective – they prevent many animal illnesses.  To learn specifics of what vaccines your pet requires, see our website.  Cats, dogs, and ferrets all require vaccinations.

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2) Vaccinations protect everyone – they prevent diseases that can be passed not only from animal to animal, but also from animal to human.  Not all diseases are zoonotic, but some are.  It’s important to vaccinate for things like Rabies to protect you and your pet.

3) Vaccinations are an important part of annual health exams.  We are always vaccination and your dog(3)working to educate on the importance of annual preventative health exams.  Having your pet seen annually can be especially helpful if your pet gets sick or as your pet ages.

4) Vaccinations are tailored to each animal based on its breed, age, overall health, and disease exposure risk.  You and your pet’s lifestyle are taken into account when our veterinarians work out a vaccination schedule for your pet.  Your pet’s level of exposure to certain elements and environments will help to determine the best protocol for your pet.

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5) Vaccinations can help avoid costly treatments for diseases that can be prevented.  Diseases like Parvovirus (parvo) in dogs and Panleukopenia (feline distemper) in cats are two prime examples of devastating illnesses for your pet, both of which are preventable with appropriate vaccinations.

 

Have questions about vaccinations and your pet?  Give your veterinarian a call.

*information taken in part from the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association’s Animal Health Week information site

Temp Tattoo Images

Some additional information articles from CVMA:
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Your Pet’s Nails

by: Jennifer Oldfield and Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe

Trimming your pet’s nails can seem like a challenging task.  Many pets don’t want to be still for the process and if you are already uncomfortable with trimming them, this certainly doesn’t make it easier.

Dogs definitely need their nails trimmed, but cats can also benefit from this practice.  The very first thing to note regarding trimming your pet’s nails is the importance behind doing it;

For Cats

Cat’s nails generally do not grow as quickly as a dog’s nail.  If your cat uses a sisal scratching post or any scratching post or pad with a harsher material, you may not need to trim their front nails at all, as the material naturally wears them away.  However back feet and nails that aren’t being naturally worn down, benefit from trimming the sharp point off.  Removing the sharp tips help to prevent your cat from getting stuck in things (like the carpet or other materials), it also reduces scratches on surfaces, including you!

For Dogs

It is vital that your dog’s nails are trimmed on a regular basis.  How often, really depends on the dog and the surfaces they frequent.  If you can hear that familiar “tick, tick, tick” as they walk across the floor, it is time for a trim.  There are several reasons to keep those nails short.

  • When the nail grows longer than the pad (when you hear the ticking) your dog is losing the benefit their pad provides of gripping slippery surfaces.
  • Leaving the nails long changes the natural alignment of the dog’s leg by causing pressure and eventual twisting to the joints.
  • Plus, if left too long, the nails will eventually curl around into and around the other nails or worse; into the pads of the feet.  The dewclaw (the nail on the lower part of the inner leg) is at a very high risk of curling into the pad in a shorter time frame due to its location.
  • Long nails also often get caught and torn at the base of the nail sometimes leaving a “hang nail”.  This needs to removed by the vet and can have a variable amount of bleeding associated to it.

 

There are two things you are going to want to do before trimming your pet’s nails.  First get familiar with the nail colour and structure and second, get your pet use to their feet being handled.

Nail Structure

White Nails:

In cats and many dogs, the nails are white.  If you look at the nail from a side view you can easily see the pink quick.

Dark Nails:

In some dogs the toe nails are black.  You cannot see the quick through the nail.

The Quick:

The quick is a nerve that runs from your pet’s toe into the nail itself.   The quick is the area you do not want to cut – if cut, it will bleed.  You can use a commercially available styptic powder or paste (Kwik Stop is a common brand), you can also use cornstarch or bar soap that does not have fragrance or dye in it, to stop the bleeding.  Simply put the nail into one of these items to cover the bleeding quick.  Our goal of course, is to help you keep your pet’s nails nicely trimmed while avoiding the quick.  It is important to realize that everyone will occasionally trim a nail too short.  Leaving the nails too long for fear of this has worse consequences then occasionally nicking the quick.

How to Handle the Feet

While inspecting your pet’s nails, work on getting your pet use to having their feet handled.  If all of a sudden, you grab your pet, force them to hold still while trimming all their nails and it is a struggle for you and them, neither of you are going to be so keen on doing it again and again.

To start sit on the floor with your pet and just touch their feet, touch the nails, give verbal praise when they are NOT trying to pull away.  If your pet doesn’t get crazy excited around treats, you can also give them a treat for letting you handle their feet.  Touch and handle all four feet.  End your session there.

Now get your pet use to having their feet handled to accept the nail trim.  Do so when there is something they want from you (food, attention, walks, play).  Food works best if you have a food motivated dog.  You can start by showing the nail trimmers as a signal that it’s suppertime.  Next hold the front leg above the paw while holding the trimmer, if your dog shows no resistance go ahead and trim the nail or touch the nail with the trimmer.  As soon as he tries to pull away stop what you are doing (without letting go of the leg) and wait for him to relax the leg *relaxing and giving the paw is the behaviour you are rewarding*.  Once he relaxes the paw and stops trying to pull away, release him to eat his supper.  Gradually progress from touching the nail with the trimmer to trimming only 1 or 2 nails, to eventually doing them all in one session.  Push as far as you can get each time.  It may take a week or two but most dogs will quickly make the connection between allowing you to trim the nails and getting fed.  If the dog will absolutely not relax and settle when you have the paw then stop after 5-10 minutes of trying, but remove his supper.  No paw, no food.  Try again when he is due for his next meal.

Cutting the Nail

As mentioned, in white nails you can see the quick, you want to trim all of the white that does not have pink in it.  For both cats and dogs, trimming white nails is fairly easy.  Trim just back from the quick, cutting the long, white only, portion of the nail.  In dark nails, if you view them from the side, they have a “tell-tale” shape that helps you know where you can cut without cutting the quick.  Black nails (much more so than white) form a quick and hool“hook” or narrower area on the nail after the “fat” area where the quick is.  (see the diagram to the right).  The thinner “hook” can all be cut off.  If you look at a black nail from straight on (see image below),  after trimming the “hook”, you will see a black outer area, a circle of white, then a black center area, when there is a spot of white in the middle of the black, this indicates the quick is right behind that, do not cut any further.  As the image to the right shows, you can trim the nail in 2 cuts.  The first cut removes the access length of nail.  The second cut (although not necessary) can help the quick recede further back.  Each time you trim the nail close to the quick, it moves back into the nail to protect itself.  In this way you can work to get your dog’s nails to a nice short length.  In the case where the nails have grown too long, you may need to cut them every 4-5 days to help the quick recede back.  After you have gotten the quick to recede back so the nails are short, how frequently you need to trim the nails will depend on the surfaces your dog moves on.  Harder surfaces (like concrete) will wear the nails down, while softer surfaces (like grass) will not.  Keep an eye on the nails and try to trim them before the tell-tale “tick, tick” across the floor.

where is the quick

Tools

There are a few different tools available to use for trimming nails.  For cats the clippers that work best are ones designed specifically for their smaller nails.

cat nail trimmer

Nail trimmers best for cats or very small dog nails (i.e. tiny puppies)

For dogs there are several different looking trimmers, but 2 essential styles: the scissor style or the guillotine.  Use whichever style you are most comfortable with.  You can get scissor style ones with a guard on the back, so you don’t accidentally cut too much nail.  This works fine if the nails don’t need much trimmed.  Most with that option do allow you to move the guard off to the side if you need to cut more nail.

There is also another method to trimming the nails using a Dremel.  This grinds the nail away using a sandpaper bit and the speed of the Dremel.  Some dogs do really well with this method, however there are a few things to keep in mind if you choose to go this route.  The Dremel causes a vibration to the nail, so just like the handling of the feet before, you will need to get your dog accustomed to this, short sessions and lots of praise or treats work well.  You can get Dremels that are pet specific.  These generally have a lower speed of rotation to the bit.  If you use a regular Dremel keep the speed around 5,000 to 7,500 rpm.  Only hold the Dremel on each nail for 3-5 seconds (or the nail can get too hot which will hurt your pet).  Go back and forth between the nails until you have the length you are looking for.  Again, if the nails are really long you will want to do this in a few sessions, allowing the quick to naturally recede back.   There are a few good videos/articles online regarding dremeling the nails.  We have included those links for you below.  As well as additional links regarding nail trimming.

dog nail dremel

VERY IMPORTANT NOTE:  When using a Dremel, be absolutely certain to keep tails, long leg hair, or any long hair out of the way of the Dremel.  Due to the high speed rotation of the Dremel, if hair gets caught up in it, it can cause a vet emergency.

Unfortunately we have seen more than one animal come in with a degloved* tail tip due to the hair being caught by a rotating Dremel.

Tip: you could use a pantyhose stocking over the paw with the nails pushed through if your dog has excessively long hair on the feet or legs to help reduce the risk of catching it in the Dremel.

Additional Resources:

Dr. Becker on Trimming Your Dog’s Nails

Train your Kitten to Love Nail Trims

How I Dremel Dog Nails

Using a Dremel Tool on Your Dog’s Nails – please keep in mind with this video that the setting he is using is very low, normally you would want to dremel each nail for only 3-5 seconds and then move on to the next and back again until all nails are the length you would like.  It is a very good video though to show you visually the process of dremeling the nail.

 

*Degloved means that the skin has been completely separated from the rest of the area of the body (akin to removing a glove from your hand)

 

Nutrition Advocates

by: Brianna Redlich

You may have read the title of this post and wondered, what is a Nutrition Advocate?  In our clinic we have two Nutrition Advocates.  We are Registered Veterinary Technologists that have taken extra training in the field of Nutrition.

Lucas and Brianna

Lucas & Brianna

What can a Nutrition Advocate (NA) do for you?

Our NAs work in one of two ways;

  1. We work closely with our veterinarians to develop a plan tailored to a pet’s needs.  Either the veterinarian will decide on a diet or they will ask our advice. Once a diet has been selected, based on the pet’s needs we then calculate a feeding guide. Next we explain to the client why the diet was chosen, how to transition, how much to feed and how often. We also do a follow up call 2 to 3 weeks later to see how the pet is doing and to answer any questions the client might have.  We then recommend coming in for weigh-ins following a diet change to monitor the pet’s weight. This helps to ensure the pet is not gaining/losing on a maintenance diet or is losing at a safe rate on a weight loss diet.
  2. The other way we work is when a client comes in seeking information or help in
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    Some many choices…which is right for your pet?

    changing to a different diet. When a client comes to us with concerns about their pet’s weight, diet, eating habits, etc we will work with the client to determine the best course of action for the pet. An example is a client is concerned their pet is overweight.  We have a look at the pet and evaluate the body condition score and the overall appearance.  We also ask questions for a nutrition history.  It is very important that the client is honest when answering questions about feeding amounts, number of treats and exercise. We are there to help, not judge.  Once a body condition score and history have been evaluated we will then come up with a few different options.  Some clients decide to try achieving weight loss using the pet’s current diet. We will develop a plan and explain that if they are not seeing results that a prescription diet may be needed.  We do regular weigh-ins to track the pet’s progress and make adjustments as needed. Once the pet is at an ideal weight we will continue to work with the client while switching to a maintenance diet.

Please keep in mind that there are some situations where the Nutrition Advocate will recommend an exam with one of the Veterinarians before proceeding with a diet plan. An example would be a pet that has bad allergies and irritated skin, that may need to be treated both medically and nutritionally.

Not sure if you need to make a diet change? Ask yourself these questions.

  • Is your pet’s coat dull, brittle or do they have flaky skin?
  • Is your pet gassy?
  • Is your pet over or under weight?
  • Is your pet having loose or small hard bowel movements?
  • Is your pet having multiple large bowel movements a day?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then you may want to book a consult with one of our Nutrition Advocates.

Further information:

Nutrition Consultations

FAT CAT vs Skinny Cat

By: Jennifer Oldfield

So you’re thinking, what’s the big deal, right?  I mean many of us carry extra weight, it’s just part of life… isn’t it?  As someone who is by no means a skinny cat, it is a big deal.  There are many side effects to carrying access weight that we don’t tend to think about.  As a human it is hard to shed those access pounds, we have to exert our own self-control, which can be so tough with the onslaught of delicious food choices and a busy, often sedentary life style.

cat-eating-food-in-bowlOur cats on the other hand are at our mercy – we control the food.   We can control how much and when they get to eat.  Unfortunately many of us grew up thinking you just pour food in a bowl, walk away and do it again when the bowl gets low or (God forbid) empty!  If you currently feed your cat this way I want you to do a self-test:

  • Measure how much food you tend to pour in the bowl (is it half a cup, a whole cup, two cups?)
  • Pay attention to how long it takes for the bowl to be empty (half a day, a whole day, several days)
  • Now mark down how many pets eat out of that bowl
  • Calculate who ate how much per day
    • Example: there is 2 cups and it takes a day and a half for the bowl to be empty with one cat eating out of it: approx. 1 and 1/3 cup eaten per day

So how did you fair?  Is there more than one animal eating from the bowl?  Did you realize you have no way of knowing who ate how much?  Often when there is more than one eating from the same dish you tend to have a heavy cat and a slim cat.  It is obvious who is getting more, the question is, is the slim one getting enough?

Did you know on average a cat should eat only 1/2 cup (240-250 calories) PER DAY!  If you have discovered that indeed you either don’t know how much your cat is eating or they are definitely eating too much, don’t fret.  One of our Nutrition Consultants will gladly assist you with transitioning to meal feeding and finding the right amount of food for your particular pet.

Now, let’s look at what the extra food, creating the fat, is doing to the body;Fat Kitty

The red arrows indicate two areas of fat pockets (there is more below the pink arrow, however we aren’t as concerned with that for the purpose of this blog).  Notice the compression on the stomach, intestines and colon (plus the other organs above and beside those are hard to even see).  Also note that the fat pockets will also be pushing into the chest cavity compressing the area available for the heart and lungs.

The pink arrow indicates the colon which has an uphill “S” shape making it so that the body has to work harder to move fecal matter out.  This is part of why overweight cats often have issues with constipation.

Looking at this x-ray it may not seem too bad, but let’s compare to a cat that is at a nice lean weight:

Skinny kitty

Notice how the stomach, intestines and colon are able to spread out in the body cavity.  Plus we can see other organs we couldn’t see on the previous x-ray.   The pink arrow here shows the colon again.  This time you can see that it makes almost a direct straight path out causing no extra work or strain to defecate.

Aside from cats, dogs would also have issues with excess fat causing strain on the organs in the body.  For both species fat pushing on the lungs and heart mean that both have to work harder.  Often pets that are overweight have difficulty breathing.  In dogs you notice they pant more.  Think of it is this way: in the heat we often have issues breathing, we find the air heavy on the lungs.  Now imagine not only breathing that heavy air but that your lungs are unable to expand fully.   Breath is more rapid and shallow – you can’t get that nice deep breath.

The good part is that, because as mentioned at the beginning, we control the food, it is easier to work to get your pet to lose weight than it is to do so for ourselves.  There are some fantastic diets available in-clinic that help to increase metabolism of your pet without needing to decrease the amount of food they eat.  There are also other store brands that are reduced in fat and calorie content to help, if not lose weight, at least prevent the further gain of weight.  Plus there are easy ways to increase the activity of your pet to help burn off that access weight.  Yes, even your cat can increase activity at home to loss weight.  See Amaya’s success video.

When deciding to proceed with a weight loss plan, keep in mind loss should be gradual.  Losing weight too quickly for a pet can be detrimental to their health.  Seek guidance from your veterinarian: contact us to make an appointment or to speak to one of our Nutrition Consultants today.

What is That in My Pet’s Ears?

pets scratching

Otodectes cynotis mites, most commonly known as ear mites are a type of mange and are more common in kittens and young cats, but can be found in dogs as well as other animal species.  Happily for us though, ear mites do not affect humans.  Mites are passed from moms to newborns or from pet to pet especially when sleeping and cuddling together, or grooming occurs; most noteably around the ear area.  The most common symptoms you will notice include:

  • shaking the head
  • scratching the ears
  • a coffee ground like debris inside the ears
  • thick red-brown or black crusts around the top external portion of the ear

if the infestation is really bad you may notice

  • your pet is painful when touched in the ear/ear canal areas (along side the base of the ear)
  • some blood within the ear
  • scratch marks and a loss of fur behind the ears
  • crying when scratching

ear mites ear

What can be done?

It is far more common and highly likely for your kitten to have ear mites than to not have them.  Adult cats if recently acquired from a rescue or humane society or found stray may also have ear mites.   Most often this is taken care of and treated on their first ever visit to the vet.   It is much less common for puppies and dogs, often if their ears are bothering them they likely have another type of infection like yeast or bacteria, although they can definitely get ear mites.

The best, quickest and most guaranteed way to get rid of ear mites is to bring your pet in to see your veterinarian.  Often mites can be diagnosed on physical exam, however your veterinarian will likely take a swab of the debris to check under a microscope and confirm the presence of ear mites and assess that no other infection is present.  The ears are then flushed and thoroughly cleaned to remove all the mites and debris.  Your pet will also be treated with a prescription medication to kill any remaining mites and prevent the infestation from recurring.

Be sure to let the vet know if you have other pets at home that spend a lot of time together or sleep in the same place as the pet that has mites.  All those pets at home should also be treated to prevent mites from continuing to pass from one pet to the other.  If the pet at home has a lot of debris in the ears, it is a good idea to bring them in to get their ears flushed as well.  This is not something that should be done at home as you wouldn’t want to accidentally cause damage to the ear drum or ear canal.

Sir Charlie Mouse after his ear cleaning

Sir Charlie Mouse after his ear cleaning

Can you treat at home?

There is an over-the-counter treatment for ear mites, however if there is any uncertainty (especially in dogs) that the ear infection is mites, it is best not to use this medication.  A downside to home treatment is that unless the ears are cleaned and the product is used exactly as directed, including the repetition of the medication a few weeks later, it may not resolve the problem completely, resulting in the same issue for your pet a few weeks down the road as the mites continue to re-infest the ears.  We have also had clients who used the product exactly as directed and it still did not resolve the problem.

The great thing about mites is that they are fairly easy to get rid of and don’t often recur when done with the aid of your veterinarian.  If you have any questions about ear mites, your pet’s potential ear infection or anything else related to your pet’s health please contact your veterinarian.

ear mite

Ear mite seen under a microscope.

The Importance of Diagnostics Part 3

In Part 1 of our series we discussed the importance of ultrasound; Part 2 was about x-rays; now in our final part of the series,we discuss the importance of lab tests.

by: Dr. Barb Eatock

20161114_125233If your pet is sick, your veterinarian may recommend performing lab tests to help determine the underlying cause of your pet’s symptoms.  These tests can provide a lot of important information to your veterinarian regarding the diagnosis and therefore the appropriate treatment.  Even if all the results come back in the normal range, this helps your veterinarian rule out several potential causes of the symptoms your pet is having and these results can then be used as a baseline to compare to future tests.

The most common laboratory tests for a veterinarian to recommend are bloodwork and a urine sample.  The veterinarian may recommend other tests such as an examination of a stool sample; depending on specific symptoms.  Bloodwork may include a complete bloodcount, chemistry or additional tests.  The complete blood can help determine whether your pet is anemic, has an inflammatory response and whether he or she has enough platelets to aid with blood clotting.  The chemistry shows whether your pet has liver, kidney, or pancreatic disease, checks protein and electrolyte (sodium, potassium, and chloride) levels, and checks blood sugar and calcium levels.  The blood count and chemistry can also be used to determine if patients are a good candidate for an anesthetic procedure.  Urine samples also provide important information such as infection, blood  (which may indicate bladder stones or other problems), sugar in the urine (which may indicate diabetes), and how concentrated the urine is (which can help determine whether the kidneys are functioning properly).

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Additional tests which may be recommended depending on species, age and symprotms, include thyroid tests and tests for certain viruses such as parvo, feline leukemia, and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).  Most tests can be performed in clinic with same day results; tests that need to be sent away will generally have results back within a few days.

img_3664Lab tests are a very important tool for your veterinarian.  They provide essential information to allow for a precise diagnosis, which allows your veterinarian to provide specific treatment, which can help save time, money, and prevent the needless suffering of your pet.

 

 

The Importance of Diagnostics: Part 2

In our first blog post on Diagnostics we featured the benefits of Ultrasound.  Next up X-rays!

by: Dr. Tracy Fisher

Radiographs, or X-rays as they are more commonly known, have been around for a
long time, since 1895 in fact, but they remain an invaluable tool in diagnosing a wide
variety of conditions. Our clinic offers high quality digital radiology for the body as well
as digital dental radiology.

Wascana Turtle Project.July.1-2-Jul-2016

A turtle with 20 eggs!

Radiographs are used to diagnose many diseases and conditions from heart disease
and pneumonia, to gastro-intestinal foreign bodies (otherwise known as, my pet ate
what?????), kidney and bladder stones, some kinds of cancer, broken bones and
dislocated joints, arthritis, and to get an accurate count of how many puppies a pregnant
dog (or other animal) is going to have. Radiographs and ultrasound are often used together, especially when imaging the abdomen as they provide different types of images that compliment one another and allow us to get a much better idea of what the problem
may be.

Radiographs do use a type of radiation to create an image but the dose used to take a
series of diagnostic images is not significant to your pet. The radiation dose can be
harmful to humans who are repeatedly exposed and to pregnant women. For this
reason our staff wear lead aprons, along with other protective gear and measure their radiation exposure to minimize their individual exposure amounts. This is also why we ask owners to wait outside the room when their pet is having radiographs taken.

Oldfield, Jennifer.Magnum.1-27-May-2014

Radiograph checking hip placement

Sometimes we will sedate a pet in order to take radiographs, this is most common when the positioning may be awkward or painful for the pet such as an animal with a broken bone, painful shoulder or hip x-rays in an excited dog. We will recommend sedation in any pet when we feel it will be too stressful or painful to restrain them for the radiographs.

 

Dental radiographs are used when we clean and examine your pets teeth under a general anesthetic. They are very useful in determining which teeth need to be extracted and which teeth are healthy. Many patients, especially cats, have disease in the roots of their teeth that cannot be seen by looking in the mouth or probing the tooth.  Radiographs let us identify these teeth and remove them, saving your pet another procedure a few months down the road when the problem comes to the surface.

The Importance of Diagnostics: Part 1

Diagnostics are the tests doctors are able to perform, that allow them to find out what is going on with your pet when they aren’t well.   Sometimes a diagnositc may be performed that comes back normal, and although we understand this can be frustrating for our clients, this information is actually extremely useful for the veterinarian.    It helps eliminate possible diagnoses and helps them to determine what is more likely to be the problem.

In this series we will provide a bit of information on the diagnostics we are able to perform right here at Albert North Veterinary Clinic.

Ultrasound

by: Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe*

Ultrasound is one  of the diagnostic tests we offer in clinic.  Ultrasound is best used for the evauation of soft tissues like internal organs, the heart, and sometimes masses, tendons, and muscles; in certain species.  Ultrasound does not do well with air or bone because the sound does not travel well through these media and the results are a poor signal.

Ultrasound can give important information about the prescence of fluid in the abdomen, masses (to help determine which organ may be affected and even to biopsy without full anesthetic or expensive and invasive surgery), pregnancy diagnosis and assessment of fetal viability and health, finding bladder stones (some of which are not visable on x-ray), and overall organ health.

Our clinic was the first in Regina to offer this valuable service and over the years we have continued to upgrade our equipment to continually improve image quality for the best evauation possible.

Diagnostic us small

Gizmo, a 14 year old domestic shorthair being ultrasounded to check his pancreatic health. His liver, stomach, kidneys, spleen, bladder and intestines were also evaluated

*Dr. Jo-Ann Liebe is highly trained in ultrasound evaluation and is one of only a small few in the Regina area who can perform a comprehensive diagnostic ultrasound.  We are pleased to work with other veterinarians to be able to provide this valuable service to their patients through a referral.

 

 

Hairballs

by: Jennifer Oldfield

April 29 Hairball Awareness

April 29th is Hairball Awareness Day

If you own a cat then you are likely familiar with having to clean up a hairball ot two, but did you know it isn’t normal for your cat to vomit up hairballs?  Cats groom themselves, naturally ingesting fur, dust, dander, and other debris to keep clean.  Their system is designed to take this ingestion of hair, digest it and expel it in their bowel movements.  At least this is the case for short-haired cats.  Cats with longer coats or multiple cat households where they groom each other, aren’t as well equipped to deal with the excess of hair.  So what can you do to help and when should you see a vet?

How to help:

  • hairball blogBrushing – For cats with longer hair, regular brushings to remove loose cat is extremely helpful.  Even short haired cats can benefit from this.  There are also products available that are a combination cat toy/grooming device, that when your cat rubs against it helps to remove the loose hair.
  • Grooming – Having your cat professionally groomed to remove loose hair and excess undercoat or even having them shaved can be very helpful.
  • Hairball Remedy – The remedies act as a lubricant to help the hairballs pass through the cat’s digestive tract.  Although this can help for some cats, it doesn’t work in all of them.  It is best to discuss this with your veterinarian before using to ensure the product will be safe for your cat and their situation.
  • Hairball diets –  Generally these diets are higher in fiber and work on the premise that the fiber keeps the digestive tract moving.  As with the remedies, this may work in some cats but not in others.
  • Provide plenty of fresh water.

As mentioned above, vomiting hairballs should not be the “norm” for your cat.  Although it may occur on occasion, if it is happening with any frequency or regularity it is best to see your veterinarian to uncover the underlying cause.  Inflammatory bowel disease, even some types of intestinal cancer and many other serious illnesses can have vomiting as a symptom.

There is also another problem that can occur with hairballs besides vomit – intestinal blockage.  On occasion the hairball can become lodged in the digestive tract and may require surgery to be removed.  If your cat isn’t really eating, isn’t acting normal, is hiding,  lethargic or listless, vomiting, or having trouble in the litterbox, don’t hesitate to get him in to the vet.

Ultimately the best solution to reduce and prevent hairballs from being an issue is to assist your cat in their regular grooming.  Brushing them yourself or bringing them to a groomer can make all the difference.

grooming cats

UPDATE: We have an additional product in clinic called TheraBites Hairball.  These yummy treats are given once a day for a week each month.  A great option if the lubricants aren’t working for you.

Additional sources:

www.petmd.com – Cats and Hairballs

Dental Quiz Answers

During the month of February our technologist Meghan put together a Dental Quiz for our clients.  They could answer and turn in their quiz for a chance to win a dental care gift pack.  It wasn’t about getting the answers right or wrong, it was about getting our clients to actively think about dental care in their pets.  Often this is an area of animal health care that is over looked and yet can greatly affect the health, length, and quality of your pet’s life. pup teeth

Below are the questions with the answers and a brief blurb on each.

  1. What percentage of pets over the age of 3 have dental disease? 

80%

By age 3 your pet has gone 1,095 days without brushing his teeth and even if your pet does chew his food and even if it is a dental specific diet it isn’t going to provide the same exact action as brushing with clean water and toothpaste (think of you eating a carrot).

  1. What is an early sign of dental disease that owners may overlook? 

Bad Breath

Bad breath is a sign that the mouth has a build up of bacteria in it.

       3. True or False: Dental disease causes pain.  

True!

As bacteria builds up in the mouth and eventually plaque then tartar forms on the teeth and gums bleed and separate the decay moves under the gums.  All of this leads to the decay of teeth making the mouth very sore.  Until a dental surgery is performed and the teeth can be cleaned above and below the gums as well as removing any unhealthy teeth the pain will not go away.

  1. dental-brush-paste-kitWhich is the “gold standard” of home dental care? 

Brush daily

Although feeding a dental diet, offering dental chews and using an oral rinse are all helpful in dental care, the absolute best thing you can do for your pets oral health is to brush daily!

  1. Which can be brushed off? 

Plaque

Plaque is the first build up of debris on the teeth.  Tartar is the mineralization of that debris and cannot be removed with regular brushing.

       6. How long does it take plaque to mineralize to tartar?

24 – 36 hrs   

This is the reason why brushing daily is the key to keeping teeth healthy.

        7. True or False: Hand scaling teeth on an awake patient is best.

False

Scaling teeth creates tiny microscopic grooves in the surface of the teeth.  Without polishing after scaling the grooves remain, leaving the perfect place for food and debris to continue to build up and eat away at the teeth.  Pets need to be under a general anesthetic so that scaling and cleaning of all the teeth can be done thoroughly and completely, then teeth can be polished to remove the tiny grooves created by scaling.Dent

        8. How often should a dental cleaning be performed on pets?    

Depends on the individual animal.

Some pets require regular annual cleaning, while others can go years before needing a cleaning.  Genetics plays a very large role in the health of teeth and even when the owner does everything right including brushing daily, a dental may need to be performed on a regular basis.

           9. Order the following stages of dental disease from best (0) to worst (4)DDD_dog_gum_disease

__0__ Clean, healthy teeth

__1__ Plaque accumulation

__2__ Gum inflammation (gingivitis)

__3__ Tartar build-up

__4__ Gum separation (periodontitis)

Plaque accumulation and gingivitis can occur almost simaltaneously, so if you couldn’t decide which of these two went first you are essentially correct either way.

         10. True or False: Dental disease can lead to heart and kidney disease.

True

The bacteria in the mouth that causes dental disease spreads throughout the body leading over time to heart and kidney disease.

The Results Are In…

So how did you do?  Did you learn something new?  We sure hope so!

Just like dental care is important for you, so is it for your pet.  The best you can do is work together with your veterinary team to determine what you can do to keep your pet’s oral health at its best, ultimately leading to a longer, healthier, happier life!

Jack Russell Terrier Snarling

Jack Russell Terrier Snarling — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Want more information on dental care and what is involved in a dental cleaning for your pet?  See the dental section of our website!