Tag: preventative (page 1 of 8)

Brush like a Dog Dentist!

Guest Post by Dr. Jennifer Weeks-Llera

Before dental cleaning

Dental disease is one of the most common things I see during annual physical examinations of dogs.  Many people are surprised at the amount of tartar and gingivitis that has developed in their dogs mouth since their last visit and they are not familiar with the importance of home care that can be done to prevent this dental disease.  Daily control of plaque before it becomes mineralized to form tartar is the most important factor for a healthy mouth.  As plaque builds up, periodontal disease will develop which can lead to pain and loss of teeth.  Bad teeth will cause chronic infection and inflammation that can have negative effects on a pet’s overall health.  So what steps can you take to keep your dog’s mouth healthy?  The key to prevention of plaque and tartar is home care.

Just as for our own teeth, daily brushing is one of the best things that can be done to prevent plaque development on your dog’s teeth.  Frequently, I hear clients comment that their dog gets his/her teeth brushed every 6 weeks or so by the groomer and they can’t believe how the teeth could be so dirty.  If we think about this in comparison to our own dental health, this would be the equivalent of you only getting your teeth brushed when you go for a haircut.  So how frequently should you brush your dogs teeth?  Brushing three times a week can be adequate to maintain teeth and gums that are healthy, however daily brushing is needed if gingivitis is already present.

When should you start brushing your dogs teeth?

Start early!  As young as 8-12 weeks of age is a great time to start brushing your puppy’s teeth.  Even though the puppy will eventually loose the deciduous, or baby, teeth as their permanent teeth erupt, getting them used to having their teeth brushed is an important first step in dental home care.  When you notice that your puppy is beginning to loose their baby teeth (usually around 14 weeks of age), it is a good idea to stop brushing the teeth brushing for a little while until their permanent teeth have erupted as their mouth may be a bit sore as they are teething.

A soft bristled tooth brush is best used when brushing your dog’s teeth.  It is important never to use human toothpastes as these are not intended to be swallowed.  Pet toothpastes are safe if swallowed and are available in a number of flavours, such as poultry and beef, to increase your pet’s acceptance of them.

pet dental health tooth brushingIt is good to make a daily routine of brushing your dog’s teeth.  Remember to make it fun and rewarding!  As you first introduce your dog to teeth brushing, coat the toothbrush with pet safe toothpaste and allow your pet to simply lick the brush a 4-5 times per day for the first couple of days.  As your pet becomes comfortable with the toothbrush near their mouth, you can gently begin to handle the muzzle and lips and then begin to lift the dog’s lip and rub your finger along the outer surfaces of the teeth and gums.  Once your pet is comfortable with you doing this, you can gradually introduce them to using the toothbrush to brush along these surfaces of the top and bottom teeth.  Brushing the inner, tongue side, of the teeth is less important than the outer surfaces.  Brush the teeth in small, circular motions.  A slight amount of bleeding from the gum line may sometimes occur, but if you notice ongoing or heavy bleeding this may indicate the presence of gum disease.  If this is noticed, it is best to speak with your veterinarian for further recommendations.

Dental Foods & Chews

Although not a substitute for daily teeth brushing, dental diets (such as Hill’s T/D, Royal Canin Dental, Science Diet Dental Care, and Purina DH) have been shown to effectively decrease the plaque and tartar build up on dog’s teeth.  These diets are designed to be fed as an entire meal on a daily basis and, when you are ready to switch your dog from a puppy food onto an adult food, are an excellent adult maintenance diet option.

pet dental health

Another common misconception is that chewing on bones, cow hooves, or antlers can help keep a dog’s teeth clean.  These chew toys are not considered appropriate for dogs as they are very hard and can easily break teeth.  Broken teeth can, in turn, cause the dog pain and lead to the development of tooth root abscesses.  The “knee-cap test” is a good way to help decide if a toy is safe for your dogs teeth.  If a toy is so hard that you wouldn’t want to hit your knee with it, then your dog shouldn’t be chewing on it.  Additionally, softer chew toys are better for puppies as their baby teeth are more fragile than adult dog teeth and they can very easily be fractured.

from VOHC.org

There are many products on the market with claims to improve pet’s dental health that have no research to support these claims.  The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which consists of veterinary dentists and dental scientists, was formed to recognize cat and dog products that meet standards to decrease the formation of plaque and tartar.  Products that meet these standards are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance.  A list of these products can be found on the VOHC website.  Some examples of the products that are listed include several dental diets, Greenies, and Healthy Mouth Water Additive.

It is very important to remember that the home care tips discussed in this article are recommended for the PREVENTION of plaque and tartar and are not a treatment for established dental disease.  An essential component of your dog’s dental care includes yearly or semiannual examination by a veterinarian who can identify dental disease early on and provide recommendations on treatment options that are available.  By providing dental home care for your dog, along with guidance from your veterinarian, you can help keep your dog’s breath fresh and their teeth healthy.

 

Dr. Jennifer Weeks-Llera is an associate small animal veterinarian at Richmond Veterinary Clinic in Napanee, Ontario.  She is married to fellow veterinarian, Dr. Ryan Llera.  Together, they own and love 2 dogs, 3 cats, 2 horses, and a rabbit.

Pets and Ibuprofen Don’t Mix

Otis ibuprofen toxicityThe following is a true story (used with permission) of how easily accessible medications, like ibuprofen, can be harmful to your pet.

Meet Otis.  His story is one that challenges the old adage about curiosity and cats, but he is a curious dog.  Don’t worry, he’s fine now; but he almost wasn’t.  While his person was sleeping one day, Otis took the opportunity to sample some medications that were accidentally within his reach.  Nobody knows his motivation but it’s a good thing his family noticed.  The culprit in this case was ibuprofen.  Yes, many people’s favorite, useful, pain relieving medication really is bad for your pets.

The first sign of trouble was the medication actually being found.  The liquid filled capsules were strewn about on the floor and with no one home other than Otis and his person, it was easy to figure out who the chew marks belonged to.  At this point, many people might be thinking “okay, no big deal.”  And then the vomiting started, which is the first sign of a toxicity issue.  Otis couldn’t hold anything down and the more he threw up, the worse his dehydration got.

otis-blood-resultsBecause ibuprofen toxicity can actually cause kidney failure along with the intestinal upset, his owner brought him to me to check some blood tests and what we found was consistent with ibuprofen ingestion as his kidney values were mildly elevated above normal.  Otis was admitted to the hospital and we started him on intravenous fluids to essentially help dilute the drug in his blood stream and preserve blood flow and pressure supplying the kidneys.  Without this treatment, Otis would surely become more ill.  In addition to the IV fluids, I started him on some medications to help gastrointestinal tract due to the ulcerations that can develop.

During his first couple of days, Otis started to show improvement.  He was happy, eating well, and most importantly – not vomiting!  But when we checked his kidney values, they had gotten slightly worse.  After talking with his family and agreeing that he was clinically stable, we felt it was best that he stay on his IV fluids for a couple more days.  Checking Otis’ kidney values daily for the next few days we noted that they returned to normal with the additional treatment.  After five days in hospital, Otis finally got to go home!

Otis taught us all a valuable lesson; one that he was fortunate to recover from.  While he got into ibuprofen accidentally, many people will try to self medicate their pets with over the counter medications that may not be safe.  This can inadvertently lead to permanent damage, or worse.  Please, for the safety of your pets, don’t rely on Dr. Google or your neighbor to prescribe something for your pets if they become ill; talk to your veterinarian.  Has your pet ever gotten into over the counter medications??

Otis ibuprofen going home

Otis got to go home!

Disclaimer: All blog posts may contain opinions which are my own and may not reflect those of any current or former employers.

Thanks for reading and don’t forget you can subscribe on the right side to get new posts directly to your email!  And I’m now on Instagram @drryanllera and as always on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest!

Weight Management – A Pet Owner’s Perspective

Guest Post by Kelly Harding

 

I recently posted about my visit to Royal Canin Canada where I spoke to a group of veterinarians about how I felt as a pet owner being told I had an obese pet, how I reacted and what I did about it.  My post did not go into detail or answer any of the below questions, I only wrote about my experience on this day.  Dr. Ryan Llera asked if I would discuss in detail what it was I told the vets attending the weight management session, in the hopes it would help others understand what I did, what I didn’t do, and why.

Why I didn’t take my vet’s recommendation the first time I was confronted with Edie needing to lose weight?

before side view

Edie before losing weight

I was aware that Edie was getting larger, bigger, yes, fatter.  But when it was suggested “the first time” that I should switch her food to a product that would address her weight, her constant hunger and begging for food I hesitated.  I believed I could manage it on my own and thought I could continue to give her the same food, the food that I still had almost a full bag of at home, but just give her less.  I also felt that if Edie was still hungry I could just supplement her with carrots and green beans.  And largely, I couldn’t see how changing to a different food, a food that I now had to purchase from my vet’s office, would make any difference

What made me change my mind?

Edie’s begging and constant demanding of food!!  Not entirely, but it was a large part because she always seemed hungry.  She seemed frustrated by my restrictions on her food and I also became desperate as she began to scratch furniture and dig up carpets until she got food.  There just never seemed to be enough green bean or carrots to satisfy her!  The final straw was that Edie’s weight continued to climb.

What didn’t work for Edie’s weight loss?

I couldn’t keep up and thought I could manage Edie’s weight loss on my own but it wasn’t as easy as I thought.

weight management in progress

Before, during, & after the journey

What did work for Edie’s weight loss?

Well, if you’ve seen recent photos of Edie, you know that we’ve since succeeded in getting her weight to a healthy level.  Ultimately, I took my vet’s advice.  I switched Edie to a prescribed food (Royal Canin Satiety Support) that addressed her weight issues and her need to feel satisfied.  Aside from the food change, learning how much was the right amount to feed Edie (weighing and measuring food portions properly) was key.  And of course, taking Edie in to my vet’s office for regular weigh-ins so that she could be monitored.

How did Edie’s vet support me and make me feel comfortable with the decisions that I made along the way?

Although my vet had mentioned Edie’s weight on a couple of occasions, she never made me feel bad for not doing it earlier.  I was embarrassed enough about Edie’s weight but my veterinarian never did anything to embarass me further.  While most people focus on the numbers on the scale, my vet never overwhelmed me with the big picture (need to lose 10 or 12lbs).  We boiled it down to taking small steps, each weigh-in at a time.  I was welcomed and encouraged to drop in to have Edie weighed anytime.  Each loss was a success, no matter how small!  Veterinarians assess each patient and give them a Body Condition Score (BCS) so the numbers are often just a measurable goal but as weight loss happens, the endpoint of an ideal BCS could change.

Things that helped me along the way and my tips for you:

  • Ask your vet for a weight chart print out.  My vet was able to print out a chart that documented Edie’s weight starting with her very first vet visit.  Seeing the weight climb to its highest was an eye opener; seeing it reduce to a healthier weight was encouraging
  • Have your vet teach you how to do a body condition score on your pet.  There may be a time when you think your pet has lost enough weight, but learning to “feel” your pet’s body helps to understand
  • Pictures!  Take lots and lots of pictures of your pet!  I can’t stress this enough!  When you’re with your pet day in and day out you can’t always see what your pet “really” looks like.  Take photos from all angles.  Take photos from above to see if your pet has a waist.  Compare the photos over time and if you are like me, you will be surprised, shocked and amazed by the changes along the way.
successful weight management

Edie at a healthy weight!

I finally started to notice a difference in Edie’s attitude and hunger issues within a month of being on Satiety Support.  The begging, the scratching of furniture, the digging up of carpets subsided.  Edie became more content and of course that made me happier and encouraged. The Satiety Support was working just as my vet said and Edie lost 1.3kg/2.86lbs in the first 4 months!  We were on our way.  Today, Edie is a healthier, happier dog, weighing in at 9.3kg.

Have you ever been told by your vet your pet needs to lose weight?  What did you do about it?

 

Kelly Harding is the human at the end of Edie the Pug’s leash.  She is better known as “Edie’s Humom” and is the voice behind Edie the Pug.  Kelly acts as typist for Edie the Pug on her blog and social media outlets – Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

All opinions about Edie, her weight loss journey and how it affected Edie’s health are my own personal experience.  Edie has been on Royal Canin products since she was a puppy and continues to be on Royal Canin Satiety Support Small Dog dry and  Satiety wet.  Edie is an Ambassador to Royal Canin Canada, but this in no way influences my opinions of the product.  Edie is, and always has, monitored by her veterinarian to ensure her health, her healthy weight loss and maintenance.

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