Imagine what would happen to your mouth if you didn’t brush your teeth or visit the dentist for 10 years. Do terrible breath, sore gums, and painful, damaged teeth come to mind? Unfortunately for our dogs and cats, the harmful consequences of inadequate dental hygiene are similar to those suffered by humans. While some wear and tear on your pet’s teeth will occur naturally with age, periodontal disease is the real culprit in declining oral health and is often invisible because much of it occurs below the gum line. If periodontal disease remains untreated, it can cause problems beyond an unhealthy mouth. The spread of dental-disease-causing bacteria from the mouth can give rise to potentially damaging infections in other areas of the body, including organ tissues. In order to effectively address periodontal disease, a pet should receive a thorough mouth evaluation and cleaning under general anesthesia, at which time the extractions of any damaged or diseased teeth can be safely performed. Attempting a dental procedure without the use of anesthesia does not allow for a thorough exam or for cleaning below the gum line where most problems occur. It also increases your pet’s stress level, as well as the risk of accidental injury to the patient and the veterinary staff. In order to help lower your pet’s risk of periodontal disease, visit your veterinarian regularly for evaluations of your dog or cat’s oral health. Check back soon for more information as we raise awareness during February for National Pet Dental Health Month!
Have you ever wondered what the terms and numbers on your pet’s food bag mean? Selecting an appropriate, high quality food for your furry friends can seem like a daunting task, but it’s extremely important in maintaining your dog or cat’s weight and overall health. Check out the link below for an article about how to read pet food labels.
Costumes: Are you planning on dressing up your spooky pooch or frightful feline this Halloween? If so, be sure that their outfits don’t restrict their breathing, eyesight, or movement. Be cautious about adorning your furry friends with costumes that have metal accents or fastenings as certain metals, particularly zinc and lead, can be extremely dangerous (even deadly) to them. Remember that loose or dangling costume elements may be tempting for your pet to chew or ingest, which could lead to a life-threatening bowel obstruction. If you choose to dress up your pet, try letting them wear their costumes, under your supervision, a few days before Halloween. If they appear anxious or encounter any of the issues listed above, skip the costume and try a festive bandana or collar instead.
Candy: Most pet owners know that chocolate can be dangerous for pets, but many don’t realize that other kinds of candy can cause serious problems too! One lesser-known threat is that of sugar-free candy. Xylitol, a commonly used artificial sweetener, can be fatal, even in small doses. Of course, traditional candy can cause illness too. Ingesting too much sugar or fat at once can lead to pancreatitis, which can be extremely painful and potentially fatal. Symptoms may not appear for several days after ingestion of the offending substance, so make sure to keep all varieties of sweet treats out of reach! If you suspect your pet may have ingested candy, please call your veterinarian immediately.
Fear and confusion: While humans can understand and enjoy the fun of a phony but frightful costume or prank, our pets can’t. It’s a good idea to keep your pets indoors and away from any potentially startling situations. What might seem like harmless fun to us can frighten an animal to the point of aggression or an attempt to flee. If your pet will be spending time in the yard on Halloween, make sure they are wearing a collar with up to date identification and contact information in the event that they should be frightened and escape.
Many people underestimate the importance of putting their dog on a leash, particularly in such a dog–friendly town as Bozeman. But it’s precisely because the Gallatin Valley has such a large canine population that following the rules of pet ownership is so important. The easiest way to ensure the safety of yourself, your dog, and the other pets and owners you meet, is to use a leash whenever you’re not in a fenced yard or an off-leash dog park. Here are some of the main reasons to make using a leash a permanent part of your walking routine:
1. While your dog may be friendly with other dogs, children, or even cats, that doesn’t mean that all of the dogs, children, and cats that they encounter in the world will be friendly with them! Many dogs don’t get along well with other dogs, particularly if it’s one that they’ve never encountered before. Keeping your dog leashed helps decrease the likelihood of them getting into the personal space of an unfriendly dog, as well as your chances of having to pay the bill for any injuries that may occur in a fight.
2. Even if your dog is friendly and simply wants to make a new friend, children and the elderly can be easily knocked down and seriously injured if your dog approaches too quickly or jumps up on them to greet them. Having your dog on a leash can help prevent your dog from unintentionally hurting someone.
3. A passing jogger, biker, or darting animal (like a neighborhood cat, a gopher, or even a bird) can trigger your dog’s instinctual urge to chase prey. Not only might your dog injure whatever they’re chasing, but they can also be injured or killed if they dart into the street while in pursuit. By keeping your dog on a leash, you can help keep them from endangering themselves when they see something irresistible across the street.
4. Though it may be difficult for a dog-loving owner to understand, some people are afraid of dogs. For someone who has been bitten by a dog or isn’t usually around them, having an unfamiliar dog run up to them can be a frightening experience. People with a fear of dogs sometimes carry means of defending themselves against dogs that they feel threatened by. Some of these means, including pepper spray and sonic repelling devices, can be unpleasant and upsetting for your dog.
5. Many dogs will eat just about anything. While it may seem funny at times, a dog’s indiscriminate taste for anything on the ground actually can be extremely dangerous. Poisonous plants, leftover food, roadkill, trash, and toxic chemicals are present in many alleyways and yards around town, as well as along hiking trails and recreation areas in the valley. It’s difficult, if not impossible, to know what your dog may be snacking on if they are allowed to roam free. If they are on a leash by your side, you can help make sure they don’t ingest anything harmful. If they do eat something potentially hazardous, keeping them on a leash will give you a better chance of seeing what they ate—knowledge which, when relayed to your veterinarian, can be lifesaving!
Every summer heat claims the lives of beloved animal companions simply because their owners don’t know the signs of a dangerously overheated dog. To understand these signs, one must understand a dog’s cooling system. Think of a dog’s tongue, mouth, and nose as built-in air conditioning. Dogs cannot cool themselves with sweat like we do. Instead, they utilize the cooling power of evaporation by running air over the damp areas in their mouth and nose. Put bluntly, they simply don’t have an efficient way to cool themselves down. Dogs with short snouts (Bulldogs, Pugs, Boston Terriers, Boxers, etc.) have an even harder time cooling off and can become dangerously overheated in just minutes. But no matter what kind of dog you have, make sure to watch out for these signs of overheating. Watch your dogs for these signs on hot days and NEVER leave them in a parked car during warm weather. If you suspect your dog might be too hot, seek shade or air conditioning, provide plenty of cool water (not ice), and call your veterinarian immediately.
· Mouth Wide - The wider the mouth, the higher your dog’s cooling system is “turned up.” If his mouth is wide open, there likely will be wrinkling at the back corners of his mouth. If you see this, your dog is hot!
· Tongue Long - The further your dog’s tongue is hanging out, the more surface area there is for air to pass over it and cool her down. When your dog’s tongue starts hanging down well past her teeth, chances are she is too hot.
· Tongue Wide - As your dog heats up, his tongue will widen and thin. Just like a long tongue, a wide tongue creates more surface area for air to pass over in order to cool your dog.
· Tongue Dark - The hotter your dog is, the more blood will be sent to her tongue in an attempt to cool off. This increased blood flow will cause the tongue to appear darker.
· Fast Panting - If your dog is panting quickly, he is trying hard to cool off by drawing as much air as possible over the wet surfaces in his nose and mouth.
Summertime in the Gallatin Valley is a treat for people who love being outdoors with their pets. It’s important to remember, however, that there are certain risks to your dog’s health during this season. Your dog’s chance of contracting heartworm disease, as well as ticks, fleas, and lice, increases during the warmer months in Montana. We recommend giving heartworm prevention during the warmest months of the year (May through October). Because heartworm disease is common in many parts of the country, we also recommend putting your dog on heartworm prevention if your dog travels with you outside of Montana. In addition to preventing heartworm disease, the once-a-month chewable tablet we offer at the clinic also eliminates common intestinal parasites. To start your dog on heartworm prevention medication, make an appointment at the clinic for a heartworm test. The test requires just a drop of blood and takes about ten minutes to run. For more information on heartworm disease, visit the American Heartworm Society’s website at http://www.heartwormsociety.org/pet-owner-resources/heartworm.html
Did you know that just a single leaf or even some pollen from an Easter lily can be fatal to your cat? With spring coming on and Easter approaching quickly, it’s important for pet owners to be cautious about what plants and flowers they bring into their homes. Cat owners should consider forgoing the Easter tradition of having any kind of lily in the house as they are extremely toxic to cats and can cause acute kidney failure and death.
Symptoms of poisoning can include vomiting, drooling, lethargy, dehydration, and loss of appetite. If you suspect your cat has ingested any part of a lily of any kind (pollen, petals, leaves, etc.), call your veterinarian immediately. The sooner your cat is treated, the greater their chances of recovery.
As the holidays approach, it’s important to keep an eye on all the extra treats around your home. Here are some common ingredients and items that can be harmful or even deadly to your pets:
Fat Trimmings from Meat – Never give these to your dog. Eating these can lead to pancreatitis, an inflammation and swelling of the pancreas. Symptoms include vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Severe pancreatitis can lead to hospitalization for the treatment of dehydration and shock.
Grapes/Raisins – Even in small amounts, grapes, grape juice, and raisins can lead to kidney failure in cats and dogs.
Onions, Garlic, Leeks and Chives – When eaten by your pet these toxic items cause a severe upset stomach and anemia.
Alcohol—Symptoms of alcohol poisoning in cats and dogs are similar to those in humans. However, because cats and dogs are generally much smaller than their human counterparts, even small amounts of alcohol can be very dangerous. Ingestion of alcohol can lead to lowered blood pressure and body temperature, vomiting, dehydration, tremors, and death.
Macadamia Nuts and Walnuts – Very harmful to dogs, these nuts can cause drowsiness, sluggishness, vomiting, and difficulty walking.
Bread Dough – Unbaked bread dough can expand in the stomach of your cat or dog causing the stomach to twist and even cut off blood flow. The yeast contained within the dough can produce alcohol which causes seizures and respiratory failure in cats and dogs.
Milk – Although cats love milk, the fact is that most cats are lactose intolerant. Giving your cat milk can cause cramping of the stomach, as well as gas and diarrhea.
Ice Melt – Although handy for melting ice on stairs, sidewalks, and porches, Ice Melt and similar products contain toxic chemicals. When your pet ventures outdoors, the crystals in the melt can become stuck in his or her paws. When your dog or cat cleans his or her paws, the chemicals are ingested. Ingesting Ice Melt can cause skin irritation, seizures, and can be fatal.
Ethylene Glycol – Found in many products such as anti-freeze and motor oil, this chemical has a sweet taste that is often enticing for cats and dogs. However, just a teaspoon of ethylene glycol is enough to cause kidney failure.
Lilies, Poinsettias, Daffodils and Azaleas – These flowers can cause kidney failure and heart rhythm problems in cats and dogs that may lead to death.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms contain toxins that can cause shock and affect multiple systems in the bodies of cats and dogs and may be fatal in some cases.
Chocolate – Consumption of chocolate by your pet can lead to fatal seizures. Dark and unsweetened chocolate (such as baker’s chocolate) is more toxic than white or milk chocolate.
Caffeine – Harmful to both dogs and cats, caffeine can cause vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, coma, and can be deadly depending upon the amount consumed.
Chewing Gum, Breath Mints and Toothpaste – All of these items contain a sugar-free sweetener called Xylitol. If ingested by your pet, Xylitol can cause a dangerous drop in your pet’s blood sugar levels and cause liver failure.
Detergents/Household Cleaners – Items such as these can cause ulcers in the mouth, throat, and stomach of your cat or dog, and can be deadly.
Acetaminophen/Ibuprofen – These can cause severe anemia and ulcers, as well as liver and kidney failure in your pet. In fact, just one tablet ingested by a 10-pound cat can be fatal.
Coins – Coins containing zinc, such as pennies, are especially hazardous to both cats and dogs. Ingesting coins containing zinc leads to zinc toxicity which can cause anemia, liver, heart, and kidney failure. A single penny can be fatal.
Batteries – These are toxic to both dogs and cats. Ingesting a battery can lead to the development of ulcers in your pet’s mouth, throat, and stomach.
Tobacco – Harmful to cats and dogs, the ingestion of nicotine in tobacco from cigarettes, patches, or chewing tobacco causes vomiting, tremors, and death.
If you suspect your pet has ingested any of these, call us immediately. Do not wait to see if symptoms appear, because in some cases of poisoning, by the time the symptoms appear it is too late to save the animal.
America has one of the highest obesity rates in the world. While it may not occur to many pet owners, obesity in American pets is also extremely common. Around half of all cats and dogs in the U.S. are overweight or obese. Being overweight can cause just as many health issues for our pets as it can for us. According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), osteoarthritis, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, joint injury, various forms of cancer and decreased life expectancy are all linked to obesity in pets. Just like their owners, pets have daily caloric needs that, when exceeded, can contribute to weight gain. Diet is not the only culprit in the obesity epidemic. Unhealthy weight may also be a symptom of an underlying illness. Talk with your veterinarian at your pets’ next wellness exam about their ideal weight. To learn more about pet obesity visit http://www.petobesityprevention.org/.
If you’ve been feeling too hot during the summer weather lately, chances are your pets have too! Here are some tips for hot weather safety that could save your pet's life.
Keep Pets Safe in the Heat : The Humane Society of the United States
Hot Weather Tips : ASPCA