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“Such short little lives our pets have to spend with us, and they spend most of it waiting for us to come home each day. “-John Grogan
In honor of #NationalLoveYourPetDay we want to share some helpful suggestions to enhance your human and animal bond with your pet. Pets are an incredible gift to us; they truly love us more than they love themselves. As owners, we need to figure out that preferred way our pets want to receive love. Every pets definition of affection is different, find out what makes your pet’s little heart tick with joy!
Dogs tend to be very expressive and will let you know if they enjoy something or not, with their body language. Take cues from their ear position, tail movement, and eyes especially, to see if they are enjoying your affection. Be on the lookout for signs of stress and back off if your pet seems unsure of your touch or affection.
Taking time daily to spend quality time with your pup is a great way to build confidence and trust with your furry friend.
Cats can be a little more selective with their preferred ways to show affection. They will certainly let you know if you have crossed their boundaries. Be sure to tune into what makes your feline friend purr with joy!
Making sure that your pets receive the care they need is the ultimate way to show your affection toward them. Routine veterinary care doesn’t have to be scary, ask what your vet can do to make your pet’s visit stress free!
February is Pet Dental Health Month
Regular Dental Cleanings are suggested for ongoing oral care for your pets, but at home care can prolong the time between these cleanings and keep your pet healthy and happy. For any Dental procedure scheduled during the month of February here at Telford Veterinary Hospital, clients will receive 15% off! Give us a call to schedule today! Check out a tour of our dental suite and procedures here.
The gold standard for canine and feline plaque control is twice daily brushing. That being said, not every pet or every owner is willing or able to see this through. To help you make this the most beneficial for everyone involved consider these tips. Start with a healthy, pain free mouth. Young pets are a great place to start. By 6 months of age all of the adult teeth are in and brushing can begin. For adult animals consult with your veterinary team before beginning any treatment program. Undiagnosed or painful dental disease conditions can lead to pain for the animal and a bad experience with brushing. Dental disease may need to be cared for first, and then a protocol can begin at home. Choose a proper toothbrush and toothpaste. Toothbrushes come in different sizes for different sized pets. We will be glad to help you select the one that will work best for you. Flavored pet toothpastes serve two purposes. If the pet enjoys the toothpaste it makes brushing easier. Also be sure to use a toothpaste that is enzymatic. This allows the product to adhere to the teeth and continue working even after you are done brushing.
To brush, place the toothbrush bristles at 45-degree angle where the teeth and gums meet. The goal is for the bristles to reach under the gumline to clean the space around each tooth where infection and gingivitis begin. A circular motion is the goal but back-and-forth will work too. Ideally, ten back-and-forth motions – covering 3-4 teeth at a time – should be completed before moving to the next location. The area along the outside of the upper teeth is the most critical.
Myth: Feeding a pet a dry kibble diet is better for the teeth than feeding them a canned diet!
Truth: Most dry pet foods crumble without much resistance so there is little or no abrasive action on the teeth.
Dental diets either use products to bind with the plaque to aid removal, or are formulated to not crumble easily so plaque can be scraped away from the teeth during chewing. Ideally, a dental diet should be fed as the main calorie source. Many dental diets are higher in calorie than regular dry food diets so you would normally feed a smaller amount of a dental diet. Sometimes, we recommend mixing a dental diet with a regular diet, especially in our weight conscious pets. Keep in mind that research has shown a measurable, but declining, benefit when the dental diet is reduced to 75%, 50%, or 25% of the total calorie intake. Try Hill’s T/D diets.
In making a formal diet recommendation we take into consideration your pet’s overall health status and any disease specific needs, kidney disease and feeding a kidney diet, liver disease and feeding a liver diet, etc. We also consider your pet’s eating style, meals or free fed, and your pet’s body condition score and weight.
This is the gold standard for the inhibition of plaque in human dentistry. It is effective against most oral bacteria, most fungi, and even some viruses. To be effective, chlorhexidine must be in contact with the oral surfaces for at least 2 minutes. Once there it persists in the mouth for up to 12 hours at antiseptic levels. This product is incorporated into several veterinary treatments and preventives for oral disease. Rinses: Try CET Oral Hygiene Rinse Treats: Try CET Hextra Chews
Fluoride in human dentistry is used primarily to reduce the formation of cavities, which is not an issue in veterinary medicine. However, we do apply a fluoride treatment at the end of a dental cleaning to help control plaque, strengthen the enamel of the teeth and to desensitize the teeth. Although fluoride does have some antibacterial properties, it is not as effective as chlorhexidine. Also, since fluoride is not considered safe to ingest, it is not used as a home care component for pets.
This nutraceutical (nutritional supplement) has been shown to improve the gingival/oral health in people with known heart conditions. Although there are no veterinary studies to confirm this effect in the mouths’ of pets, we do recognize the medical health benefits of CoenzymeQ10 in supporting the health of animals with heart disease.
The Veterinary Oral Health Council (www.vohc.org) has a list of additional over the counter products that have been approved for controlling tartar and plaque build-up. We also recommend use of the CET product line (http://www.virbacvet.com/cet/) because of their tartar and plaque control combined with their antibacterial properties. Not all tartar preventing products have the ability to prevent or kill bacteria as well, so consider this when choosing the best products for your pet.
These products contain chlorhexidine and safe levels of xylitol, that your pet is able to consume. When added to regular drinking water, the antibacterial properties help to prevent oral disease. While this is a safe product for your pet, if large quantities are ingested, please contact your veterinarian. Try CET Aquadent.
Plaque Prevention Gel
A plaque barrier gel that is applied at every dental cleaning along the gumline. It may also be incorporated on a weekly basis at home to create a barrier between the tooth and the gingiva to prevent tartar build up. Try Oravet
As part of a comprehensive dental care plan, antibiotics can be used to reduce gingivitis and periodontitis both during and after dental evaluations and cleanings. Occasionally, for some pets with heart disease or where dental cleanings are not an option, pulse therapy with antibiotics may be recommended. This consists of regular, dental-specific antibiotics being administered every 3 months, year round, usually for life. Certainly not as effective as an actual cleaning, this therapy may be the only realistic option for some pets and their owners.
For severe oral infections, oral surgery, fractured teeth, and some oral growths, pain medications are often incorporated to aid in patient comfort and to speed the healing process. Most prescription pain medications have the added benefit of reducing inflammation and swelling as well. This means faster healing and faster return to normal for you pet.
Follow up Appointments
As part of your ongoing prevention and treatment plan, your veterinarian and the veterinary team will recommend a dental evaluation plan tailored to your pet’s oral health and needs as outlined above. Below are the guidelines we recommend for scheduling dental health evaluations.
Healthy Mouth: _____ 6 months _____12 months
Gingivitis: _____ 6 months
Periodontitis: _____ 3 months _____ 6 months
Advanced Periodontitis: _____ monthly evaluations initially
If you are curious where your pet stands on their dental health, call us today to schedule a Free Dental Checkup with one of our Technicians. We will then recommend the best course of action for your pet. You can find all of the products mentioned above here.
How Animals Perceive the World: Non-Verbal Signaling
Karen L. Overall, MA, VMD, PhD, DACVB, ABS Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist
The uniting feature that connects all social vertebrates is the extent to which they signal non-verbally. Communication involving ritualized displays or graded signals is used to confirm or reject information received from others in social interactions, to indicate species, sex, and sexual receptivity, to signal about issues pertaining to status, and to otherwise negotiate all social interactions. As such, communication can involve such instantaneous behaviors as tactile and visual displays. These are relatively “short-distance” signals. Vocal communication is also instantaneous, but may reach over longer distances. Verbal communication is only one variety of vocal communication, and both of these may pale when the full story of olfactory communication is written. Certainly, olfactory and pheromonal signals provide information that can be assessed over distances and across time.
When assessing any communicatory structure it is important to realize that signaling involves a set of rules that will be shaped by the evolutionary history of the species. The story of canine domestication is the story of work and work-related tasks. The story of feline domestication is the story of rodent and vector borne diseases and their prevention. These 2 divergent paths to domestic life-styles have been shaped by, and in turn have continued to shape factors like reproductive schedules, fecundity, age at first reproduction, age at sexual and social maturity, composition of family or group units, and social interactions within these units. To understand such behaviors it is critical to understand the component signals as they are used to communicate with con-specifics. The following table provides an introduction to this topic:
|howling||elicit social contact|
anxiety situations (social contact = reassure)
|tail and ears up; forefoot in front of other||alert, ready to participate|
absence of threat
absence of challenge (not the same as deference for confident, high-ranking dogs)
|belly presented||deference – if neck, back, and other solicitation bues given|
disengagement – if inguinal area and, or chest covered may become aggressive if pursued
relaxation – if flaccid
|tail tucked when belly presented||fear/submission|
|tail tucked when belly presented with urination||profound fear/submission|
|piloerection||arousal associated with anxiety, fear, agression|
|piloerection restricted to neck or tail region||confident dog|
|rigid stance, stiff torso musculature||confidence and intent to interact (may not be aggressive)|
|tail above horizon||confident|
|tail below horizon||less confident|
|tail wag||willingness to interact|
|tail tip wag; stiff||confident|
|neck erect or arched||confident|
|ears vertically dropped||deference|
|snarl/growl with only incisors and canines apparent||confident|
|snarl/growl with all teeth and back of throat apparent||defensively aggressive|
|licking lips, flicking tongue||appeasement|
anxious (and solicitation of reassurance; derived from et-epimeletic)
solicitation of attention
deference (off balance)
|paws out, front end down, rump up, tail wagging||body bow, invitation to play|
|mounting or pressing on back shoulders of another dog||challenge|
|licking at corner of another dog’s (or person’s) mouth||et-epimeletic|
|blowing out lips/cheeks||anticipation (positive or negative)|
anxiety (if very fast)
|popping or snapping of upper and lower jaws (bill pops)||capitulation, intention to comply as a last resort|
As always, if you ever have concerns about your pet’s behavior, contact your Veterinarian for guidance.
It’s #NationalTrainYourDogMonth and we are happy to share a small series of posts over the next couple of weeks highlighting segments of the journey you will take while training your four legged friend!
Puppyhood is a very important time for socialization and training. Puppies that are not properly socialized may have a harder time dealing with new people and situations as adults. These dogs may respond inappropriately to new things by becoming overly fearful and possibly aggressive.
Important steps during the socialization process:
Puppy-proofing your home is important during this stage of life. Allow your dog to become familiar with dogs of different sizes, breeds and personalities. Allow your dog to become more familiar with people of different ages and gender. Basic training tasks should be started early and reinforced often. Experiences inside and outside the home in safe places will contribute to a well balanced dog in the future.
Puppy Proofing Your Home
Drs. Foster & Smith Veterinary Services Department
Katharine Hiltestad. DVM
Puppies have a tremendous amount of energy and natural curiosity, and they love to explore the world around them. This is part of what makes them so much fun, but it can also lead them into harmful situations. Before you bring your new puppy home, make sure you survey your home for potential dangers. In many ways, making your home safe for a puppy is similar to making your home safe for a toddler. The following tips are designed to help you keep your puppy safe. Many of the following warnings apply for adult dogs as well:
Know which plants are toxic (see our article, Plants Which Are Potentially Poisonous) and place them out of reach, or replace them with nontoxic plants. Toxic plants commonly found indoors include dieffenbachia, azalea, Calla lily, and philodendron.
Keep all medications, including any dog supplements, in a safe area the puppy cannot access. Do not leave vitamins or other pills out on the kitchen counter or table. A determined chewer can make short work of a plastic container. Puppies are surprisingly quick at pulling things off of end tables or other low surfaces.
Put bathroom trash cans up high where your dog cannot get into them. Sanitary supplies and used razors are only two of the hazards here.
Full sinks, bathtubs, or toilets with open lids can be a drowning hazard. Avoid automatic toilet bowl cleaners if you cannot keep your puppy from drinking out of the toilet.
Keep cleaning supplies in high cupboards or use childproof latches to secure lower cupboards. Remove the puppy from the area when you are using liquid or spray cleaners. They can get into the eyes of a curious puppy, and the vapors can be harmful to lungs and eyes.
Be careful of your puppy around furniture. A rocking chair can harm a puppy’s tail or leg, and a curious puppy may crawl under an open recliner or sofa bed.
Electrical cords are a big danger to puppies, who often chew on them while playing. This can cause burns in the mouth, electrical shock, or death by electrocution. Tie up loose electrical cords and keep them out of sight. Run cords through purchased spiral cable wrap, cord concealers, or even PVC pipe to keep them safe from your puppy.
Any type of fire can be dangerous. Screen off fireplaces and wood stoves. Never leave your puppy unattended in a room with an open flame or space heater.
Cords for drapery and blinds can cause strangulation. Either tie up the excess cords, or cut the loop in the cord.
Swallowed clothing may cause a dangerous intestinal blockage. Keep socks, nylons, underwear, and other clothing put away. Keep laundry baskets off the floor.
Keep small objects (coins, jewelry, needles and thread, straight pins, yarn, dental floss, rubber bands, paper clips, toys, etc.) out of your puppy’s reach. Jewelry and coins are easily swallowed and can contain metals that are toxic. Keep costly items and those of sentimental value put away until your puppy is older and less likely to chew.
Keep fishing line, hooks, and lures stored out of reach.
Be careful about closing doors as you walk through – your puppy may be right behind you and get caught.
Keep doors and windows closed. Keep screens on windows and sliding glass doors securely fastened and in good repair, to keep your puppy from falling through or escaping.
Close off stairwells with a baby gate.
Many dogs will eat cat feces from the litter box if given the chance. In addition to being a disgusting (at least to us!) habit, this can be a dangerous health hazard. Cat litter can cause an intestinal obstruction, and in addition, any intestinal worms the cat has may be passed on to the dog. One solution may be to put the litter box behind a baby gate, either in a separate room or in a closet with the gate across the doorway. The gate can be raised up from the floor to allow the cat to go under it, unless the dog is able to go under it also. If the cat cannot jump over the gate easily, a stepstool beside the gate can help.
Many human foods can cause problems for pets. Chocolate, onions, alcohol, and foods high in fat, sugar, or salt can be very harmful. Chocolate, coffee, and tea all contain dangerous components called “xanthines,” which cause nervous system or urinary system damage and heart muscle stimulation. Problems from ingestion of chocolate range from diarrhea to seizures and death. All chocolate, fudge, and other candy should be placed out of your dog’s reach. Grapes and raisins contain an unknown toxin, which can damage the kidneys.
Tobacco products, including nicotine gum and patches, contain substances that can be toxic or fatal to dogs.
Chicken bones, plastic food wrap, coffee grounds, meat trimmings, the string from a roast – all pose a potential hazard. Scraps from ham or other foods high in fat can cause vomiting and diarrhea, or pancreatitis. To be safe, put food away immediately, dog-proof your garbage, and do not feed table scraps to your dog. Uncooked meat, fish, and poultry can contain disease-causing bacteria, such as E. coli, and parasites, such as Toxoplasma gondii. These uncooked foods should not be given to your dog. For your own health, as well as your pet’s, wash utensils that have been in contact with raw meat, and cook meat thoroughly.
The holidays can bring extra hazards for dogs. See our previous post here: Holiday Pet Dangers
Do not leave your puppy outside unsupervised. To prevent your puppy from wandering, you will need to either build an outdoor kennel or provide secure fencing that your puppy cannot jump over or dig under.
Provide your puppy a separate area of your yard to use as his bathroom area. Use fencing, or other means, to keep him out of areas where children may play, especially sand boxes.
Some outdoor plants and trees can be toxic to dogs. Common ones include potato (all green parts), morning glory, foxglove, lily of the valley, and oak (buds and acorns). Many bulb plants, such as daffodils, are also poisonous. Cocoa bean mulch can be toxic to dogs. Some dogs chew and swallow landscaping stone, which can cause dangerous intestinal blockage.
Make sure all gasoline, oil, paint, lawn fertilizers, insecticides, and auto supplies are placed into secure containers, out of reach. Be especially careful with antifreeze and rat poison, both of which taste good to dogs and both of which can be deadly if ingested.
Pools, ponds, and hot tubs should be covered or fenced off. Drainpipes can also pose problems.
Fire rings, barbecues, and other heat or fire sources pose the potential of causing burns.
Keep all food and other garbage in securely dosed containers. Used coffee grounds can contain harmful amounts of caffeine, and decomposing food may contain toxic molds. Keep compost in a secure bin.
Walk around your property and look for other areas or items that could be a hazard to your puppy, such as broken glass, exposed nails, or other sharp objects. Plan how you will restrict your puppy’s access to these areas.
Bringing home a new puppy is a time of fun and excitement. Following these tips will help you keep your new friend safe, so that the two of you can enjoy each other’s company for years to come.
Always contact your Veterinarian if you have questions or concerns about your pet. Stay tuned for more helpful tips in raising a well mannered, social dog.
In honor of #NationalBirdDay we wanted to share some information on common conditions of pet birds. Pet birds often become ill. While most diseases of birds can affect every species, there are some species that are more prone to develop certain conditions. By being familiar with the various conditions that commonly affect a certain species, your veterinarian is able to formulate a diagnostic and treatment protocol that is most likely to result in a correct diagnosis and cure for your bird’s illness. While not listing every possible disease that may afflict your bird, the following discussion will make you more familiar with the specific problems your pet is most likely to encounter.
Budgerigars or budgies are known for developing various solid external tumors as well as internal cancer. A common cancer affecting the kidneys or reproductive organs causes a unilateral (one-sided) lameness that owners often mistake for an injured leg. Knemidokoptic mange is a frequent cause of crusty dermatitis of the cere (area around the nostrils over the beak), face and feet. Thyroid disorders such as goiter and hypothyroidism occur in budgies. While not common in birds, budgerigars can become afflicted with diabetes mellitus. Chlamydiosis is a common cause of respiratory disease in these popular birds. Since many owners incorrectly feed an all seed diet to their budgies, hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) is a problem that often causes death in this species. While reproductive problems are not usually seen in most pet birds, egg binding is seen with some frequency in pet budgerigars, even those housed individually without a mate.
Cockatiels, like budgies, are commonly afflicted with respiratory disease caused by chlamydiosis. An unusual manifestation of the internal parasite Giardia is seen in cockatiels. These birds are very itchy and violently attack themselves, especially under the wings. Another protozoal disease, trichomoniasis, often causes regurgitation in cockatiels, as does the yeast infection Candida. Birds on an all seed diet often become obese; these birds are easily stressed and sudden death is common. Fatty liver disease also occurs as a result of the high fat, all seed diets; it can also cause sudden death. As with budgies, reproductive problems are seen with some frequency, even in individually housed pets.
Canaries have several genetic maladies. Feather cysts, which require surgical removal, frequently occur in canaries. Cataracts are not uncommon. Male baldness of the heads of certain canaries also occurs. An unusual form of Knemidokoptic mange called tassle-foot occurs frequently in these popular birds. Air sac mites that infect the trachea and air sacs, commonly contribute to respiratory disease in canaries. Owners who provide their canaries with nesting material made of fine thread often unknowingly cause a problem for their birds: the fine thread can wrap around a toe or foot causing gangrene within a short period of time. Finally, pox virus often causes skin disease or death in canaries. As with other small birds, reproductive problems such as egg binding are seen in canaries.
Similar to canaries, finches often have air sac mites, leading to severe respiratory disease. Tapeworms commonly infect the intestinal tract of pet finches. The fine thread nesting material that can cause gangrene of the limbs in canaries also causes the same problem in finches. As expected, these small birds often have egg-binding problems that can rapidly result in death if not treated early.
Conures are noisy birds but can make good pets. Since they can be silent carriers of Pacheco’s virus and polyoma virus without showing clinical signs, it may be prudent to house these birds separately from other species. A strange bleeding syndrome occurs in conures; but luckily can be treated effectively. Feather picking is seen with some frequency in pet conures. Papillomas (warts) occur in conures, as does proventricular dilatation syndrome, which is fatal.
Lovebirds are often affected with chlamydiosis and the yeast infection candidiasis. The pox virus often causes a discoloration of the skin rather than true crusted lesions as seen in other birds. Lovebirds are intolerant of heat and are easily stressed. Various infectious causes of feather loss occur in lovebirds. Epilepsy is seen in lovebirds. Reproductive problems, seen frequently in other small birds, also occur with some frequency in lovebirds.
Grey Cheek Parakeets
Grey cheeks often develop sarcoptic mange, an itchy skin disorder. Chlamydiosis often occurs in these birds, and they are the number one species infected with tuberculosis. Unlike most birds, blood flow after nail clipping is very slow and sometimes non-existent. Additionally, post-nail trimming lameness often occurs.
African Gray Parrot
These high-strung birds often develop psychological feather picking. A potentially fatal syndrome occurs in grays where they develop low blood calcium resulting in seizures. Aspergillosis, a potentially fatal fungal infection, is difficult to diagnose but is often seen in grays. Respiratory conditions such as sinusitis are seen; many bacterial infections are difficult to treat. Cancer is seen with some frequency in this species, as is the fatal beak and feather disease.
Amazons are commonly afflicted with upper respiratory diseases, many of which result from vitamin A deficiency associated with all-seed diets. Pox virus is commonly seen in Amazons, as are cloacal papillomas (warts). Mutilation of the wings and legs occurs. Amazons commonly exhibit mating season aggression towards their owners; some of these birds become too aggressive to handle. Some Amazons develop epilepsy. Like African Grays, Amazon parrots also develop cancer. And like most birds on an all seed diet, Amazons commonly develop obesity and hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease).
Macaws were the first species to develop proventricular dilatation syndrome, which causes chronic and progressive weight loss and ultimately death. Chlamydiosis occurs in this species with some frequency, as do the gastrointestinal parasites capillaria and ascarids. Oral and cloacal papillomatosis are seen frequently; and acne, normally rare in birds, occurs in macaws. Psychological feather picking often occurs in the larger species of birds that are tightly bonded to their owners; macaws are no exception. Regression to juvenile behavior occurs frequently and may be the only sign of illness in sick macaws.
Cockatoos, like other large birds, often develop psychological feather picking that is difficult to treat; however, other problems such as beak and feather disease, first seen in cockatoos, may also cause feather loss. For this reason, any feather loss should be thoroughly investigated by your veterinarian. Tapeworms and blood parasites are common in cockatoos. Like macaws, regression to juvenile behavior is often seen in cockatoos and may be a very early sign of severe illness in this species. Cloacal prolapses, often confused with cloacal papillomas, occur frequently in cockatoos. Lipomas (benign fatty tumors) are commonly seen in Rose Breasted Cockatoos.