Brush the Day Away!

In case you have not heard us say it before, dental care for your pets is essential for their overall health and well-being! Just like it is important for you to get your teeth checked at least once a year, it is the same for your pets. Why is this so important? Dental disease affects up to 80% of animals three years and older. These diseases, though harmful in their own right, can also lead to other serious health issues. Preventative care of your pet’s teeth can prevent high dental procedure costs in the future.

Do you know how many teeth your furry friend has? By the time your cats have their permanent teeth in; they will have 30 chompers that you need to help them keep healthy. For dogs, it is a whomping 42! That is a lot of pearly whites to help keep clean!

The earlier you start dental care, the easier it will be for you and your pet. Starting at a young age, owners should get their pets used to the touching and cleaning of their mouths. Over time, it will become easier and easier, until eventually it will become routine. When your pets are young, you will want to make sure that their deciduous teeth have come out and their permanent ones have come in with no problems. Your veterinarian will also check for any bite issues or jaw issues.

Once your pets have their permanent teeth, it is important for you to help keep them healthy and clean. There are many ways that you can do this. Talk to your veterinarian, who will be more than happy to give you a lesson in canine or feline teeth brushing. Be sure to use toothpaste that is specifically made for dogs and cats. DO NOT use human toothpaste! The ultimate goal is to be brushing their teeth every day (or at least every other day). Though this may not be easy at first, and they will probably resist, repetition will get them used to it.

You can also talk to your veterinarian about specific foods that can help maintain healthy teeth and gums. There are a variety of dental treats that you can use. Again, speak to your veterinarian and they can point you in the right direction.

If your pet is older and you have not been keeping up a good dental regimen with them, do not worry. It is not too late to start! The first thing you want to look for is the presence of any dental issues. Many times, bad breath can be an indicator that there may be a problem. Drooling, discomfort when eating (or not eating all together) and reluctance to play with toys can all be signs that your pet has a dental issue.

The best thing to do is book a dental exam and cleaning with your veterinarian. At the appointment, you can discuss specific ways to help ease your cat or dog into daily brushing and other maintenance. In the end, it is all about being proactive. The more you do by the way of maintenance, the less you will have to worry about dental disease causing pain and health problems for your pet!

By on February 7th, 2014 in Pet Care

Fall has Arrived… Are You Ready?

There is just something about fall in Michigan. The changing color of the leaves, the crisp cool air, the smell of burning fires…  It all adds up to make for a wonderful time of year. Most Michiganders enjoy the fall, even if it signifies that winter will soon follow.  Even better, our pets love the change in season as well. For our dogs and cats, the cooler weather amps up their energy and gives them a bit more pep in their step. But no matter how wonderful the season, it is important to keep in mind that some potential hazards come with the arrival of fall.

First, be aware of the changing temperatures. Though the weather usually remains pretty mild through the fall, Michigan has been known to get some chilly nights this time of year.  If you have indoor pets, they will not be acclimated to the cold weather and should not be left outdoors for prolonged periods of time. For outdoor pets, provide shelter from wind, rain and other elements.  Be sure to put some sort of bedding down, straw or hay being the best choice. Avoid using any type of electrical heating devices, since animals can chew the cords causing electrocution or burns to the mouth. Finally, as the weather gets colder your pets (especially outdoor ones) will require an increase in their diet to help generate body heat.

Another potential hazard that comes with the colder weather is the use of antifreeze. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol that has a very sweet taste that animals love. Unfortunately, it is highly toxic. Just a small amount can kill a full grown animal. It acts very quickly once ingested and can result in kidney failure and death in just a matter of hours. It is important to keep antifreeze high up where your pets (and children) cannot reach it.  After adding it to your car, be vigilant about any spills or leaks. If you think your pet has ingested antifreeze, call your vet immediately.

As the weather gets colder, pests start to come indoors. Many people see an increase in the number of mice, ants and other vermin that make their way into the house. Be aware if you are using pesticides or rodenticides, they can be harmful to your animals as well. These are products that are used to kill pests, and if your pets consume them, they can kill them as well. If you do use these products, be sure to put them where they are completely inaccessible to your pets. If you think your animal has consumed any of them, call your vet at once. In addition, be wary of where you set up mouse traps. You do not want your dog or cat sniffing that delectable piece of cheese only to get a trap snapped on their nose. And for small cats and dogs, mouse traps can be a serious danger.

Finally, with the arrival of fall comes some of the best food oriented holidays… Halloween and Thanksgiving!  However, be aware of a few things. Chocolate is a crowd favorite with both of these holidays. Unfortunately, it is toxic to dogs, cats and birds. A small amount of chocolate can cause vomiting and diarrhea, while larger amounts can cause heart and respiratory distress and even death. In addition to chocolate, other foods can cause issues as well. At Thanksgiving, bones from the turkey can get stuck in the esophagus or puncture the digestive track of your animals. Onions in the stuffing can be potentially fatal to your pet as well.  And those rich delicious deserts we love so much? They can cause digestive issues, pancreatitis or bloat. So, it is important to keep those leftovers and table scraps away from your pets!

Michigan is truly a wonderful place to be in the fall. This is a time of golden colors, beautiful smells and fun for all. Be aware of what is happening around and you and your pets will enjoy an incredible fall season!

By on September 19th, 2013 in Pet Care