Traveling With Your Pet

School is out and summer is officially right around the corner!  And for many people, that means summer vacation.  Whether you’re traveling hundreds of miles from home or just going up the road a bit, there are a few things to consider before taking your pet with you on summer vacation.

First, make sure your pet likes to travel and is allowed where you’re going.  If not, find a good boarding facility or a reliable pet-sitter.  Second, make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations.  This will help protect them from diseases spread by wildlife or unvaccinated dogs or cats they may encounter.  Next, ensure that your pet’s ID tag and microchip information are current; including several phone numbers and the city you are from can increase the likelihood your pet is returned to you in the event they become lost.

If you plan to cross state lines or international borders with your pet, he or she will likely need a health certificate.  This health certificate must be signed by an accredited veterinarian after he or she examines your pet.  Lastly, keep your pet up to date on heartworm and flea/tick prevention.  While your pet is susceptible to diseases spread by mosquitos, fleas and ticks year-round, summer is prime time for these insects and arachnids!

For more information on the above suggestions, call your local veterinarian and visit https://www.avma.org/public/PetCare/Pages/Traveling-with-Your-Pet-FAQs.aspx

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Atopy- Allergic Inhalant Dermatits

My dog is biting and chewing and smells like a dirty tennis shoe! What is going on? The short answer is allergies. Instead of getting itchy, runny eyes, a runny nose and sneezing like we get with allergies, your dog will develop other signs.

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These signs will vary with the season and what your dog is allergic to. However, pets that are allergic to house dust mites, food, or other indoor allergens can have trouble year round.

We can diagnose what your pet is allergic to with a blood test that checks both inhalant and food allergens. This will help you with avoidance which is the first step in treatment. Allergy testing will also enable you to desensitize your pet with allergy serum injections or oral medicine.

Other treatments include antihistamines, fatty acid supplements, medicated shampoos, steroids, Apoquel, and Cytopoint. So, if your pet is itching, licking, and smells like an old tennis shoe, give us a call and we will help!

“Dental Disease Is More Than Bad Breath”

As veterinary dental month comes to a close, the focus of our pet’s dental health should not decline. Dental disease is more than bad breath and tartar on the teeth and can have a great impact on your pet’s overall health.

Periodontal disease is the most common clinical illness our adult pets face. Periodontal disease is the infection and inflammation of the structures that support the tooth within the jaw. Periodontal disease begins with the formation of tartar on the teeth, as the tartar gets under the gum line the damage to the tooth structure begins. Some of the early signs include bad breath, gingivitis (redness of the gum) and bleeding of the gums. If left untreated periodontal disease can lead to loose and painful teeth, tooth root abscess, or osteomyelitis (infection of the bone).

Periodontal disease can be difficult for pet parents to recognize in the early stages. Early signs may include bad breath and possibly loose teeth. Since our pets can’t tell us when a tooth hurts only a thorough oral exam can diagnose early stages of periodontal disease. Your veterinarian should examine your dog’s teeth during their annual examination. In addition, your veterinarian may recommend a thorough oral exam under general anesthesia including cleaning all of the teeth and taking dental x-rays to allow for the early detection and treatment of periodontal disease.

Most human dentists recommend that you have your teeth cleaned and examined twice a year and have dental x-rays completed once a year, and we brush our teeth twice a day! So the next time you visit your veterinarian ask about your pet’s dental health and what can be done to keep your pet’s teeth healthy and pain-free.

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 Resource:  American Veterinary Dental College

By: Dr. Andy Mack

Why Bones are Not Safe for Dogs

When I was growing up, we always gave our dogs bones. I thought it was OK. I recently read that bones are not safe. What’s the real story about bones and dogs?

It is a myth that dogs need to chew bones. While dogs want to chew, and most would love to chew on bones, bones are dangerous and they can cause serious injuries.

Here are the top reasons that bones are bad for dogs (with thanks to the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationwww.fda.gov/consumer):

  • Broken teeth

Bones are very hard and can be brittle, making it easy for a dog to break one of its large chewing teeth. A broken tooth is painful, and whether the tooth is extracted or saved with a root canal, this is an expensive outcome.

  • Injuries to the mouth and tongue

The broken edges of bones can be razor sharp. Likewise, dogs can break off sharp shards that can pierce the tongue, the cheek, or the soft palate on the roof off the mouth.

  • Bones can get looped around the lower jaw

Round bones can get stuck around the lower jaw behind the lower canine teeth. This is certainly a very scary experience for the dog, and most dogs need to be sedated or anesthetized in order to cut it off.

  • Dogs can choke

Pieces of bone can lodge in the esophagus on the way down to the stomach. Sharp shards can penetrate the soft tissues at the back of the throat or pierce the esophagus. It is also possible for a piece of bone to get into the trachea (windpipe), interfering with your dog’s ability to breathe. Choking is an emergency!

  • Bones can get stuck in the stomach

If the bone fragment is large enough, it may not be able to pass out of the stomach, requiring either abdominal surgery or endoscopy to remove it. If the piece of bone is sharp, it can penetrate the stomach wall causing the stomach contents to leak into the abdomen. The result is peritonitis – – an infection in the abdomen that can be fatal even if treated.

  • Bones can cause a blockage in either the small intestine or the colon

Bone fragments can become lodged in the small intestines, causing a blockage, and requiring surgery to remove them. They can penetrate the intestinal wall and cause peritonitis. Bone fragments may travel far enough down the GI tract to get to the large bowel/colon. Once there, they can collect and cause severe constipation. This is extremely painful for the dog as the bone fragments scrape the lining of the colon and rectum. Enemas and manipulation are generally required to evacuate the large bowel. The trauma to the colon may cause significant bleeding from the rectum.

  • Contamination with pathogens on raw bones

There are several significant pathogens with which raw meat and bones can be contaminated – – E. coli, Salmonella species, and Listeria. These are pathogens that may or may not make a dog sick, but that certainly pose a significant health risk to the humans in the household. Children, the elderly, and immuno-compromised individuals are the most vulnerable, and these organisms can be life-threatening.

Is there anything safe that I can give my dog to chew?

There are many great chewing products available for dogs. If you want to offer rawhide, choose one made from U.S. cattle hides, give the thickest hides you can find, and choose ones that are too large for your dog to swallow. No knots on the ends, please. The knots can be pulled off and swallowed, resulting in a trip to the veterinarian for surgery.

There are also dental health chews that may be offered. Be sure to look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval. This seal assures you that the product has been evaluated for its ability to contribute to a dog’s oral health.

Dogs were built to chew — that’s a fact. Our job as pet parents is to provide them with chewing options that do not put them in jeopardy. Happy chewing!