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From the Vet's Desk...

Teeth. They need them for their very survival in the wild. But did you know that (according to the American Veterinary Dental Society) more than 85% of our pet dogs and cats have dental health issues by the age of three? And that these dental issues have been potentially linked to heart, kidney, and liver disease, as well as other health problems?

Save on Pet Dental Care Services (excluding the dental referral specialty practice) through January, February and March 2018 to keep your dog or cat healthy all year long!

THE WHY

Cat with ToothbrushDental disease starts with bacteria. The food that is eaten develops into plaque. Dental plaque, whitish to greyish in color, is slippery material which forms near the gum line. Plaque is made up of food particles, organic material, and bacteria. The bacteria feed on the food particles and, in so doing, produce toxic acidic wastes. These acidic wastes cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue), and periodontal disease (inflammation of the structures suspending the tooth in its socket).

At first, the toxic acidic wastes cause the gums to redden and become swollen. More plaque forms and the wastes dissolve away the ligament holding the tooth in the socket, creating a periodontal pocket. As plaque extends along the tooth root, the plaque nearer the crown becomes mineralized and is referred to as tartar. Tartar ranges from yellow to brown in color, is hard, and adheres tightly to the surface of the tooth. Eventually the ligament breaks down further and the tooth loosens in the socket.

Similarly, dental caries or cavities develop when the toxic acidic wastes dissolve away a layer of enamel. The bacteria can then eventually spread throughout the tooth and destroy it. Sometimes a tooth is worn (flattened) or fractured and bacteria can enter the inside of the tooth, infecting it. A tooth abscess (pocket of infection associated with the tooth) can form, causing bacteria to spread throughout the bloodstream, potentially affecting the internal organs. (Eighty-five % of abscessed teeth go completely unnoticed by the pet owner.) At this point, only tooth extraction will curtail the problem.

As veterinarians we commonly come across many clients who have misconceptions perpetuated by usually well-meaning but misinformed sources. It has often been said that the internet can usually give you enough information to get yourself into trouble but not enough to get out of it. This holds true for many things in veterinary medicine, and perhaps one of the most common misconception is that of food allergies.

For many people with an itchy dog food often becomes the first culprit for the cause, after all with all these grain free diets flooding the market and the blame being placed on grains as a negative or problematic ingredient it is an easy assumption to make.

Dog eating pet foodHowever, food allergies account for only about 10% of dogs, with the most common being atopy (environmental allergies) or flea allergies.

Of these true food allergy cases the top 3 allergens are beef, dairy products, and chicken, with grains being much lower on the list.

My personal journey through quality of life decisions and euthanasia.

Dr. Teresa Conway, DVM with her dog a pug StinkyStinky Winston came into my life over 12 years ago. My husband and I had just purchased our first house, complete with a yard. Pugsly, as he was known then, was a two year old Pug that “just wasn’t working out” in his second home. The veterinary technicians at Brick Town Veterinary Hospital figured it was a match made in heaven and did their magic. Before I knew it, I was adding an obese dog with mange to our family of two cats and two humans. And with a combination of love, patience, consistency, good veterinary care and a name change, he blossomed into the best dog ever (I may be just a little biased).

As 2017 started, the years were really taking their toll on my old man. He was 14 & 1/2 years old, and during his senior years he had been through knee surgery, injured his neck and back falling down the stairs, had a bout of liver failure, and was facing kidney failure, senility and arthritis pain. As his veterinarian, I was balancing keeping his liver and kidneys happy with managing his pain. As his person, my head was starting to realize that his time here with me was coming to an end though my heart stubbornly refused to acknowledge anything of the sort.

Obese Pet Cat Eating PieAs summer approaches and we all try to slim down to fit into our bathing suits, let's take a minute and look at our four-legged friends. The cold winter months have been hard on us all — confined inside for weeks with little to no outdoor activity or exercise. Often our fur babies are curled up next to us on the couch as we binge on the latest Netflix series and munch on whatever salty snacks are satisfying our craving. It is easy to see how we might have put on a little extra weight.

small dog summer pool 350pxSummer months are a wonderful time of year for enjoying barbeques, swimming, relaxing with friends and enjoying the great outdoors. But it can also be a dangerous time for our beloved pets if we aren't careful.

Below are four concerns for our pets during these warm, lazy summer days:

Happy Spring to both you and your pets! We tend to think that flea and tick season in our area is prevalent more in the spring and summer time, but actually it is every season. Fleas and ticks are pesky external parasites that have potential to cause serious problems to your pet and even yourself. Here is some information about these pesky pests and our recommendations for prevention.