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Dental Disease in Pets – Dental Health Awareness Month

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Hi Everyone,

Dr. Ross here to discuss everyone’s favorite topic- dental disease in cats and dogs : D.

So… we all know that one pet… you know- the one who is always so happy, playful, and loveable, and who just can’t wait to see you, that the second they do, they jump up and give you a big fat kiss on the face and… YUCK!!  HOLD ON!  …What IS that smell!??!?  Well my friends, that is what we like to call “halitosis”, which is really just a fancy way of saying “bad breath”.  Believe it or not, this can actually be one of the earliest indicators of dental disease in dogs and cats (and also humans, but I’m not licensed to comment any more on that…).  The accumulation of dental tartar and gingivitis (inflammation of the gum tissue) are also indicators there may be underlying dental disease.  Other less frequent signs that your pet may have dental disease include them not eating as much, picking up their kibble and then dropping it, or only wanting to eat soft food.  Dental disease can take many forms- periodontal disease (around the tooth), endodontic disease (within the tooth), tooth fractures or chips, or tooth infections are all possible types.

Out of all of these types, periodontal disease is one of the most common forms.  A thorough oral exam is always part of our routine physicals here at P.A.W.S. Pet Hospital, and while we most commonly see evidence of dental disease in the form of tartar build-up and gingivitis or fractures, the true disease process of periodontal disease occurs below the gum-lime.  Periodontal disease can lead to destruction of the bone and underlying structures that hold teeth in their place and can be very painful, eventually leading to the teeth falling out.  When we see evidence of this, we recommend a dental procedure to clean the teeth and take full mouth x-rays to get a look at this.

This requires undergoing full anesthesia, and while every anesthetic episode has risks, we do have full anesthetic monitoring including heart rate, electrocardiogram, BP, and blood pressure.  All pets undergoing anesthesia for any procedure must also have pre-anesthetic bloodwork to make sure their internal organs are functioning properly as many medications associated with anesthesia are metabolized by the liver and kidneys.

Once we have cleaned, probed and x-rayed all the teeth we can then address any issues we see.  This can involve surgical removal of diseased teeth, gum tissue resections, local antibiotic injections, and even bone grafting.  Hopefully though, all they really need is a good, thorough cleaning!

Once all the teeth are squeaky clean, we recommend brushing the teeth at least once daily, though as often as possible is still better than nothing.  Brushing the teeth does not get rid of the plaque that has already accumulated, but prevents it from building up, which is why regular care is necessary.  By keeping on top of your pet’s oral care at home, you can keep their pearly whites bright and white (not to mention their breath fresh) for years to come!

January through March is our Dental Health Awareness period here at P.A.W.S.  We know the prospect of having your pet’s teeth cleaned may be new, so we are here to answer any questions you have.  We’d love to see and assess your pet’s teeth, and any dental procedures booked within this period qualify for our Dental Awareness Promotions, which include $25 of and free full mouth x-rays, so it really is a great time to get started on track with your pet’s oral health.

I hope this information has been helpful, and if you ever have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us!

Sean Ross DVM

Holiday Associated Anxiety in Pets

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The holidays are a wonderful time of the year seeing old friends and spending time with family, but it can also bring on stress not just for you, but for your pet as well.  Many pets experience anxiety for many different reasons and the severity of their anxiety can vary as well.  All forms and severity of anxiety can be addressed and treated to make their and your life more peaceful.

First, let us talk about some signs of anxiety.  Our pets, just like people, each show anxiety in their own way and experience anxiety for many different reasons. Some of the most common signs of anxiety are trembling/shaking, urinating or defecating, persistent vocalizing, salivating, pacing, hiding or freezing, panting consistently when not in a hot environment, persistently holding ears back against their neck or holding their mouth in a submissive grin, or even being destructive.

Any of the signs above may occur in response to anxiety-inducing events or stimuli such as noise, new or unfamiliar people, new babies, new objects in their environment, changes in their routine, when we leave, punishment, or outside stimuli. Obviously, some of these are more common during the holiday season.  We will discuss some tips to help with your pet’s anxiety for the holiday season as well as for other times of the year.

Animals, like most people, are creatures of habit and like routine. With company coming and/or travelling, routines change.  Providing a predictable environment as much as possible will help with anxiety. Making sure meal times stay the same or providing one on one time whether it is a short walk around the block, some playtime, or a snuggle on the couch while you watch your favorite TV show can all be ways to keep your routine the same. Your pet will enjoy the time spent with you as well as relieving some stress for yourself- let’s be honest… they are not called companion animals for no reason. Our pets can feed off our stress as well so spending some time alone with no distractions may be good for the soul for all.

Whether hosting a party or the family dinner at your home, it is good to provide a special space for your pet. I usually suggest a room that the company is not allowed in.  Your pet’s special blanket/bed or toys should be available for them to play with. This way they can escape all the noise, new people, and kids that can overstimulate your pet. Also, we have a tendency to punish our pets more when company is over because we want them to be on their best behavior too.  Having a calm place for them to escape can decrease their anxiety so we are not so worried about them and our guests.

There are many products out there to help with the pet’s anxiety. Many of these products can be used together. The hardest part of anxiety is finding the product(s) that works best for them.  What works for one may not work for another.  Since there are so many products out there we will discuss some products that have research to back them and/or have had a high success rate over the years.

Over the counter Products

  • iCalms: a small speaker that plays calming classical music for dogs or cats. Have many different music chip inserts to provide different sounds. All music selected is based on research.
  • Zencrate: crate that automatically detects when an animal goes inside and will start playing calming music based on research studies.
  • Essential Oils: many different oils out there can talk with your essential oil distributor or our own technician Courtney for tips. Essential oils can be applied to bedding, bandanas, on the pet or put in a diffuser. As the pet inhales the aroma it causes a calming effect.
  • Rescue Remedy (Pet Calm): A oral supplement that can be dribbled on the food provides a calming effect. Available at most health food stores.
  • Harmonease for dogs: contains Magnolia officinalis and Phellobendron amurense extract. Available at most health food stores.
  • Anxiety TFLN: Available by HomeoPet. They also have training materials.
  • Thunder Shirt: A shirt that applies constant pressure to help calm and relax your pet.
  • Storm Parties: giving extra special treats, toys, blanket or shirt during a storm will help train that this a special time and not something to fear.
  • Desensitizing: For thunderstorm/noise anxiety buy a soundtrack and play it super loud for about 5 minutes then let your pet calm down this may be later that day or maybe a day later. Once the pet is relaxed play the soundtrack again at a low volume so that the pet is not showing any signs of anxiety. Do this for about 5 minutes 2-3 times a day for 3-5 days. Each time you play the soundtrack increase the sound little by little until no reaction occurs.

Veterinary Products

  • Appeasing Pheromone: this is a pheromone that mothers release with there young to calm and relax them. Available in collars, sprays, or diffusers. Some bands are DAP/Adaptil for dogs, Feliway for cats, or NutureCalm available for dogs and cats. Veterinary products but may be able to find at some pet stores or online.
  • Acupuncture: Acupuncture is good for many things from helping with anxiety to pain and inflammation.
  • Solliquin: All-natural veterinary based product good for separation anxiety and noise anxiety.
  • Royal Canin Calm Diets: For those pets with severe anxiety including a calming diet into there routine can help decrease the dose of nutraceuticals a pet may need or even prevent needing them at all.
  • Anti-anxiety medications: prescription medications to help in severe cases of anxiety.


I hope you all learned something about pet anxiety during the holidays and how to deal with it.  If you have any questions about your pets and their anxiety during the holidays, please contact us and we’d be happy to help.

We at P.A.W.S. Pet Hospital wish everyone a warm and loving holiday season.

Demi Shukas CVT

Puffy Pets – Obesity in Dogs and Cats

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Welcome to P.A.W.S. Pet Hospital’s first blog post!  Every couple of weeks we will be writing about a topic important to the care of our furry friends.  If there are any topics you find interesting or would like to learn more about, contact us and give us a suggestion!

For our first post, we will discuss a topic that is unfortunately often overlooked in our pets- their weight. Believe it or not, just as in humans, obesity is the #1 health issue affecting cats and dogs in the United States with 52.5% of all dogs and 58.3% of all cats being overweight!  Just being 2 pounds overweight for the average cat and 5 pounds for the average dog can put them at an increased risk for serious medical conditions. We see a much greater incidence of arthritis, diabetes mellitus, respiratory disease, urinary tract disease, and orthopedic disease such as ligament tears in our overweight patients.  Studies have shown the single best thing you can do to increase the life expectancy of your pet is to keep them at a healthy weight!

How do we assess a pet’s weight?  Since pets come in all shapes and sizes, we need more than just their weight. We use a system called the Body Condition Score (BCS) to better understand a pet’s overall weight.  This is a scoring system on a scale of 1-9.  A score of 4-5 is ideal, with any deviation being a 10% change in weight. For example, a dog with a BCS of 6/9 is 10% overweight, while a cat with a BCS of 2/9 is 20% UNDERWEIGHT.  There are a lot of variables that go into determining an animal’s BCS.  You can read about them here:    

Body Condition Score Chart for Cats

Body Condition Score Chart for Dogs

So now you’re probably thinking… “My pet is overweight!!! What do I do?!?!??”  Well, no fear- that’s why we are here!  The key to getting your pet to a healthy weight is the same as it is for yourself- diet and exercise.  By performing a thorough physical exam, a veterinarian is able to accurately determine how overweight a pet is, and what an ideal weight is for them.  Based on this, we can develop a diet plan specifically tailored to your furry friend.  While reduced-calorie diets are typically a starting point, each animal has its own nutritional needs that need to be considered as well. Regular exercise is of utmost importance as well, as dogs should be going for walks at least twice a day, and indoor cats, who live an increasingly sedentary lifestyle, should have at least 15 minutes of active playtime a day.

Feel free to stop by and use our scale to weigh your pet.  We’d love to work with you and your furry friends to come up with a plan and long term goals to allow them to get to and maintain a healthy weight so that they can have many more healthy years to come!

Sean Ross DVM