How should I care for my pets' teeth?
The best way to properly care for your pet's oral hygiene is to brush their teeth daily. Just like us, our pets develop plaque on their teeth which, if not removed, can lead to oral health problems. There are bones and special treats that can help promote oral health, but the best way to clean your pet's teeth is by brushing them. It may take some time for your dog or cat to get used to the idea of having their teeth brushed, but they can be eased into it. You can start by letting them taste the toothpaste from your finger. There are special veterinary toothpastes made in flavors like chicken that appeal to animals. Once they get used to the toothpaste you can begin by brushing 1-2 teeth to introduce them to the sensation. After a few cleanings your pet will probably start to enjoy the brushing and will be happy to let you do it. Along with the special toothpaste a special toothbrush should be used with soft bristles and a long handle so you can reach the teeth in the back of your pet's mouth.
What are some common dental problems in pets?
A high percentage of cats and dogs will experience periodontal disease during their lives, and the risk increases as they get older. Periodontal disease affects the gum and supporting structures of the teeth. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and bone loss in the jaw. Periodontal disease is also related to other health issues, such as heart disease. It is important to have regularly scheduled teeth and gum cleanings for your pet.
What causes my pet's bad breath?
Many people think that it is normal for a dog to have bad breath, but that is not the case. Bad breath is caused by bacteria in the mouth that create byproducts that contain sulfur. Regular home cleanings accompanied with scheduled professional cleanings will help to prevent bad breath and the bacteria that cause it.
How can I help my pet lose weight?
If you have noticed that your pet has gained weight recently you should schedule an appointment with your vet. Changes in your pet's weight can be a sign of disease. Once sickness is ruled out, your vet can help you come up with a diet and exercise plan for your pet to help manage their weight. There are specially made pet foods for pets that are overweight. You also need to make sure you are regularly walking your dog or taking time to play with your cat so they are getting the exercise and activity that they need on a daily basis.
What are heartworms and how can they be prevented?
Heartworms are a parasite that attacks your pet's heart. They are usually transmitted by a bite from an insect that is carrying the parasite. If heartworms are left untreated they can cause serious heart problems. There are preventative medicines available, like Heartgard, to keep your pet from being infected with heartworms. Your pet should start taking this medication at around 2 months old.
We are going away on vacation and the kennel requires that our dog has a kennel cough vaccine. What is that?
Kennel cough is an upper respiratory infection caused by either bacteria or a virus. It can cause a harsh dry cough in your dog that can last for a few weeks. It is very contagious and is commonly transmitted in environments where there are many dogs in one place, like a kennel. Most kennels require that your dog is vaccinated for their safety and the safety of the other dogs.
When should my pet be spayed or neutered?
Your pet can be spayed or neutered at any time, but it is recommended that they undergo the procedure at about 4-6 months of age.
Why does my pet need yearly bloodwork?
Yearly blood workups should be performed to check for any infections or diseases. It is an easy test to perform and can be done at the same time we do the routine heartworm check. This will help ensure that your pet is healthy, or catch any problems at an early stage so they can be treated effectively.
How often does my pet need a rabies vaccine?
Cats should receive a rabies shot on a yearly basis. The first rabies shot your dog receives is good for one year, and each booster shot will last 3 years.
How can I prevent my pet from getting fleas?
There are many medications available that help prevent your pet from being infested with fleas. They can begin taking this medication at about 8-10 weeks of age, and should take the medicine year round. Fleas are more prevalent in warm areas, but they can continue to live in your house during the winter months, so year round prevention is recommended. On top of the medication, you should be cautious of where your pet walks when outside. High grassy areas tend to be inhabited by fleas and ticks, so beware.
How do I know if my pet is in pain?
Obviously our pets can't tell us where they hurt, but there are some signs to look for. If you notice a change in your pet's behavior (fatigue, depression, change in appetite, increased aggression, etc.) your pet might be in pain or have another physical problem. Your pet may also favor a certain part of their body or limp if they are injured. You should consult your veterinarian if you notice any of these signs so that they can determine the source of your pet's pain.
My new kitten hasn't used the litter box yet, should I be worried?
Your kitten is probably just adjusting to their new surroundings. They can hold their urine and bowel movements for about 3-4 days when they are nervous or unfamiliar with their surroundings. If they exceed 3-4 days without relieving themselves, or display other abnormal behavior, you should consult your vet to see if there is a deeper health problem.