Start an Oral Hygiene Routine with Your Pet for National Pet Dental Health Month

Start an Oral Hygiene Routine with Your Pet for National Pet Dental Health Month

Each February, we like to spread awareness about the importance of caring for pets’ teeth to celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month, along with cats, dogs, the American Veterinary Medical Association, and other veterinarians across the country.

So, Why Is It Important to Care for Your Pet's Teeth?

A pet’s comfort and health can suffer big-time, if their teeth are neglected. Pets can break teeth and suffer from cavities and abscesses just like people. The primary health concern with a pet’s mouth is periodontal (gum) disease.
Periodontal disease is a gum infection that occurs when plaque and tartar build up on the teeth along the gum line. This buildup creates dark, damp pockets between the gums and the teeth, where harmful bacteria thrive. If not properly prevented or treated, periodontal disease can lead to serious health problems that spread throughout the body. Periodontal disease will begin with uncomfortable oral symptoms like tender, swollen gums, but can eventually turn into a blood infection, which harms vital organs throughout the body.
Left untreated, periodontal disease can become so serious that it leads to organ failure and death.

How to Care for Your Pet's Oral Health

In dental care, prevention is always the best form of medicine. To prevent periodontal disease, humans are supposed to brush and floss twice a day and see a dentist at least once a year. We understand that this type of rigorous oral care regimen might not be feasible for pets, but it’s still important to make dental care a regular part of your pet’s healthcare routine.

Caring for Your Pet's Teeth at Home

The most important dental care actions you can take are the ones that happen on a regular basis in your home. We recommend brushing your pet’s teeth at least once a week with a specially formulated pet toothpaste and specially designed pet toothbrush.
You can also provide your pet with dental-friendly treats, chew toys, and kibble which are all designed to help break up plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth.

Seeking Professional Pet Dental Care with our Veterinarian

During your pet’s regular wellness appointment, our veterinarians always inspect the pet’s teeth. If needed, we might recommend a professional teeth cleaning. Pet dental cleanings are performed with a pet under general anesthesia to ensure they remain calm and safe.

Schedule a Dental Check-Up

If you notice any signs of potential dental problems in your pet (red or swollen gums, reluctance to eat or drink, or bad breath), we recommend scheduling a checkup right away. We welcome you to contact any of Animal Wellness Center’s five convenient Wisconsin locations.

5 Ways to Prepare Pets for the Cold Wisconsin Weather

5 Ways to Prepare Pets for the Cold Wisconsin Weather

You might think your pet’s coat is a natural cure-all for winter weather. Fur will provide your pet with some warmth, but it can’t keep your pet completely warm and safe when the temperature (or windchill) drops below freezing. With Wisconsin’s harsh winter weather upon us, remember these tips to keep your cats and dogs safe.

1. Stay Inside

If it’s too cold outside for you, then it’s too cold outside for your pets. The safest plan is to keep your pet indoors. If your pets are used to being outside, keep them busy with toys, attention, and other enriching indoor activities.

2. Provide Adequate Shelter

Staying inside is best, but some pets (especially feral cats) won’t come inside. If this is the case with your pet, it’s essential that you provide shelter. A pet house should be secure, blocked from wind, and insulated. Provide warm bedding, using old coats, blankets, or even straw, and check the bedding every day to make sure it’s dry. If you provide electric heat to the pet house, be sure you use a heating pad or mechanism that’s designed specially for pets to prevent burns.

3. Put On (Supervised) Layers

If it’s cold outside, but you still want to bundle up and take your pet for a walk, then outdoor winter pet gear is the perfect way to keep your furry friend warm while getting some exercise. Winter coats and booties are a great way to protect their bodies from the cold and their paws from icy and salty sidewalks. Dressed pets should always be supervised to prevent strangulation or suffocation.

4. Towel Dry and Wipe Paws

When your pets come inside, towel dry their fur and wash their paws. This will keep them warm, prevent their skin from becoming irritated, and also prevent them from licking potentially poisonous salts and ice melt off of their paws.

5. Fill the Bowl

Outdoor pets should have heated water dishes, so pets always have a source of water that’s not already frozen. In cold weather, your pet’s metabolism will burn more calories than normal while keeping his or her body temperature stable. If your pets spend a significant amount of time outdoors in the cold, it won’t hurt to feed them a little extra to make sure they stay warm and maintain a healthy layer of insulation on their bodies.

For more information about keeping your pets safe during the winter, we welcome you to contact any Animal Wellness Center today!

Spring is near!

As we enter into the months of February and March, there are a lot of things that we as pet owners, veterinarians, and animal lovers in-general should start to consider. Whether we want to talk about pet dental health (since February is National Pet Dental Health month!), or Valentines Day and the risks of chocolate toxicity to our 4-legged-friends, there is so much to consider. With V…

Spring is near!

As we enter into the months of February and March, there are a lot of things that we as pet owners, veterinarians, and animal lovers in-general should start to consider. Whether we want to talk about pet dental health (since February is National Pet Dental Health month!), or Valentines Day and the risks of chocolate toxicity to our 4-legged-friends, there is so much to consider. With Valentine’s Day smack-dab in the “heart” of February (sorry…pun intended), and spring right around the corner, I want to focus on matters of the heart. Specifically, I want to discuss Heartworms!

Heartworms are a serious blood parasite of dogs and cats, and one that I treat multiple pets for every year. Once a pet contracts the disease, the worms will develop and mature and set up shop in the heart. This is a universally fatal disease if left untreated. While cats can contract the disease, dogs are the natural host. If infected and left untreated, Heartworms can multiply and cause injury to many vital components of the cardiovascular system, including the heart, the lungs, and the arteries! That means that the heart can’t pump the blood, the lungs can’t infuse the blood with oxygen, and the arteries can’t move the blood to where it needs to be. Because this is such a serious disease, we at Animal Wellness Center (as well as the American Heartworm Society) recommend testing the blood once yearly to screen for heartworms!

As I mentioned, while cats are not the normal host, they can still become infected. Unfortunately this often goes undiagnosed since routine heartworm screening is not often done in cats. While the number of worms is often lower than the number in dogs, they can still cause significant damage. The most commonly diagnosed “heartworm” disease in cats is a condition known as “Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD).” If your cat has chronic respiratory disease, it may be worth asking your veterinarian about testing him or her for heartworm disease!

The good news is that this universally fatal disease is very easily preventable! There are a wide variety of products available on the market that can very easily prevent heartworm disease in dogs and cats. Bonus! They also help prevent intestinal parasites! It is especially important to give preventatives year round. Mosquitoes, while commonly dormant in cold weather, can become active very quickly and easily with only a day or two of temperatures at or above 50 degrees fahrenheit! Living in Wisconsin, it’s not unreasonable to believe that Jack Frost might take a day or two off every now and again, leaving us with some unseasonably warm days throughout the winter months.

As we move towards spring (and hopefully warmer weather), please consider talking to your veterinarian about what the best preventative options are for your pets. While it can be easily prevented and treated in dogs, unfortunately the medications used to treat the disease cannot be used in cats. Additionally, while it may not seem like a common issue, I encourage you to visit the website below from the Companion Animal Parasite Council which shows prevalence maps (heat maps) of common areas of infection. While wisconsin is not at the top of the list, we still treat numerous cases each year!

A final, parting thought: You can pay for approximately 10 (or more) years worth of heartworm preventative for a medium sized dog for the cost of just ONE round of treatment for an active infection. It’s true what they say, “an ounce of prevention [truly] is worth a pound of cure!”

-Dr Dan

Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month

March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month One of the joys of having a pet is watching their continuous curiosity in the world around us. However, sometimes that curiosity gets them into trouble. Knowing what potential hazards are in and around your house is the first step in keeping them safe. Hopefully you are never faced with a medical emergency involving your pet…..

Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month

March is Pet Poison Prevention Awareness Month

 

One of the joys of having a pet is watching their continuous curiosity in the world around us. However, sometimes that curiosity gets them into trouble. Knowing what potential hazards are in and around your house is the first step in keeping them safe. Hopefully you are never faced with a medical emergency involving your pet ingesting a potentially poisonous product. However, being prepared and knowing what actions need to be taken in that moment could mean the difference between life and death for your furry friend.

Our pets could show symptoms of poisoning quickly after ingestion, but many can take hours to days to set in before they show a problem. It is extremely vital that you contact us and/or Poison Control immediately if you discover your pet has ingested something potentially toxic. The sooner you act, the better the chance we have to decontaminate and provide treatments to counteract the poison from causing both immediate and long term issues. Act fast!! Don’t wait for symptoms to develop or spend time searching on the internet for answers. Call us so we can determine if what they ate is toxic and put a plan in place to get them help immediately. If it is a weekend, night, or holiday then please call one of the local 24 hours emergency facilities or contact ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline at (888) 426-4435.

Please take proper precautions to keep these products out of your pet’s reach at all times:

Human Medications – This is by far the most common toxicities we see. Many medications that are safe for us can be very toxic to our pets. This includes medications such as Acetaminophen (Tylenol), NSAIDs (Advil, Aleve, Motrin), and common vitamins. Please, do not give your pet any human medications without consulting with a veterinarian first! You may think you are helping them, but could ultimately be causing them more harm.

Human Foods – again, many foods we eat can be quite harmful to our pets. This is not an all-inclusive list, but toxic foods include chocolate, xylitol (artificial sweetener), raisins/grapes, macadamia nuts, garlic, onions, yeast-based dough, table salt, and fatty table food. A very small amount of some of these foods can cause major medical issues.

Plants – ASPCA Poison Control has an extensive list of plants that could be potentially poisonous to pets. Some common plants to avoid keeping in the house include lilies, holly, poinsettias, tulips, cyclamen, and many more. Here is a link to a list of plants that are and aren’t toxic to our cat and dog family memebers: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/dogs-plant-list

Essential Oils and Liquid Potpourri – these products can damage your pet’s organ systems if ingested, but can also be very irritating to the skin and airway if applied directly to your pet’s skin or if they breath in the fumes.

Yard/Garage Products – Fertilizers, mouse/rat poisons, cocoa mulch, snail bait, mushrooms, plants, cleaning products, antifreeze, and insecticides are just a few products that can be extremely toxic to your pets. Please keep these materials out of your pet’s reach and monitor their outdoor activities closely at all times! The outdoors should be fun place for your pet to spend time, but can be a very hazardous space if not pet proofed adequately.

If you suspect your pet has ingested something of questionable safety, please do not hesitate to call us or Poison Control. We are here to help!!! When calling to seek medical advice please have the packaging or label readily available so we can evaluate the active ingredients. This will save valuable time.

Have a happy and safe start to your spring!

Dr. Hillery