National Pet Dental Health Month
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!
Holiday Pet Adoption Considerations
Are you considering adding a new furry (or feathered or scaly!) family member this holiday season? Are you planning on giving a pet as a gift to a loved one or friend? As fun as a new companion might sound, it’s extremely important to carefully consider the time and money involved in taking on a living creature. If you’re prepared for that level of commitment, it’s also important to understand that adjusting to a new home takes time for all animals. If you’ll be having company during the holidays, it may not be the best time to welcome a new family member. Strangers and changes in routine can be very stressful to animals who are already adapting to new surroundings, relationships with people and other animals, diets, etc. It can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months for a pet to adapt to all of the aspects of a new living situation. If pets are already present in your home, take the time to introduce them to a new pet gradually and safely. Here are some great articles on the first month with a new cat or dog, as well as tips on how to properly introduce pets to one another.
First 30 days with new dog: https://www.petfinder.com/dogs/bringing-a-dog-home/tips-for-first-30-days-dog/
First 30 days with cat: https://www.petfinder.com/cats/bringing-a-cat-home/tips-for-first-30-days-cat/
Introducing a new cat: http:/veterinarymedicine.dvm360.com/adding-another-cat-isnt-piece-cake
Introducing a new dog: http://www.petmd.com/dog/training/evr_introducing_a_new_dog_to_a_resident_dog
Crating Your Kitty for Car Rides
Unless your cat is among the rare few who enjoy car rides, you’ve probably had some difficulty keeping your kitty calm when you’re on the road. Regardless of the length of your drive, using a carrier is the best way to keep both you and your cat safe and relaxed while traveling. Unfortunately, many cats are just as reluctant to get in the carrier as they are to get in the car. It may seem counterintuitive, but having your cat in and around the carrier, having frequent, positive experiences, can actually help her overcome her fear of it. Here’s a step-by-step guide to getting your feline family member used to a carrier so that everyone’s car rides can be easier and safer in the future!
Click below to download the PDF.
Car Travel Tips for Anxious Dogs
Whether it’s a quick drive to the vet’s office or a lengthy road trip, car travel can be stressful for pets. If your dog dreads getting in the car, here are some tips that might make future ventures a bit easier.
If these tips don’t seem to help your nervous dog deal with car travel, it may be time to talk to a behaviorist or veterinarian about other available options for your pet’s anxiety.
Four Fear Fighting Tips for the Fourth
Does your dog suffer from anxiety during the 4th of July? Their frightened state can be difficult to deal with, but it can also be dangerous. Scared dogs can injure themselves in an attempt to escape your house or yard, and face other hazards if their escape is successful. If your dog gets worked up, do your best to remain calm and act normally. Never scold them for being afraid, but don’t reward their nervous behavior by lavishing them with attention. Instead, work to distract them with positive interactions and stimuli. Here are a few tricks you can try to help lessen or eliminate their stress during this noisy holiday.
The Dangers of Rodenticides
Mouse, rat, and gopher poisons are designed to attract small mammals, and unfortunately, your pets may also find them irresistible. If your pet ingests even a small quantity of a rodenticide, they can experience internal bleeding, brain swelling, kidney failure, seizures, and death. If you utilize poison to control pests in or around your home, always save the packaging of the product you’re using. Knowing the type and concentration of ingredients in a product can be lifesaving if your pet ever ingests the poison. Not all rodent poisons affect pets in the same way and treatment must be tailored according to the type of poisoning. If there’s a possibility that your dog or cat has eaten any amount of rodenticide, do not wait to seek treatment. Certain rodenticides won’t cause obvious symptoms for several days, after which point it may be too late for effective treatment. If your pet eats rodent poison containing phosphides (usually in gopher or mole poison), do not let them eat or drink and get them to a veterinarian immediately. Phosphides create phosphine gas in the stomach which is toxic to both pets and humans. If your pet vomits in the car on the way to the vet, roll down the windows to make sure you do not inhale the phosphine gas. If you suspect your pet has ingested rodent poison of any kind, call your veterinarian and seek treatment immediately.
Although the relatively cool and dry climate in Montana keeps many parasites from thriving, ticks are among the critters hardy enough to withstand long periods of cold and starvation. Unfortunately, ticks sometimes carry diseases that can cause illness or even death in both humans and pets. If you and your dog walk through brush, wooded areas, or tall grass, it’s a good idea to check them thoroughly when you get home or apply a monthly tick-prevention treatment. Cats that go outside are also vulnerable to ticks, but keep in mind that the tick-prevention you give your dog may be toxic to your cat. Check out the link below for a great article from MSU about ticks and pets.
Heartworm in Montana
Springtime 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 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 he or she travels with you outside of Montana. To start your dog on heartworm prevention, 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.
Why Does Your Pet Scoot?
Does your dog or cat ever scoot her rear end along the ground? Although many people believe this is a sure sign of parasites, your pet’s anal glands are far more often the cause of this behavior. Most people have seen a dog drag their hind end on the ground, but many people don’t know that cats can experience anal glad problems too. This issue is quite common and, unfortunately, uncomfortable. Anal glands are the two small sac-like structures, located on the left and right, just inside of your pet’s anus. They contain a dark, foul-smelling substance, some of which should be expressed naturally each time your pet has a bowel movement. But sometimes these sacs are not expressed naturally and can quickly become extremely uncomfortable for your pet. If not properly drained, the sacs can become obstructed, infected, and even rupture. If your dog or cat licks or chews her rear end excessively, scoots on the ground, or if you notice a foul, fishy odor coming from your pet, she may need to have her anal glands checked. Feel free to call us at the clinic at (406) 587-5537 if you have questions or to make an appointment.
At Home Dental Care
Want to learn an easy way to help fight your dog or cat’s bad breath? In addition to freshening up your pet’s mouth, brushing his or her teeth can actually help prevent gum disease, pain, tooth loss, and even heart and kidney disease. Many pet owners worry about how well their animals will tolerate tooth brushing, but maintaining your pet’s dental health doesn’t have to be difficult or unpleasant. Try using flavored, pet specific toothpaste to help make tooth brushing a treat for your dog or cat, but never use your own toothpaste. Some common ingredients in human toothpaste, like fluoride and xylitol, can be deadly to pets even in small amounts. Check out the link below for photos and a step-by-step guide on brushing your pet’s pearly whites!