How Healthy Is Your Pet’s Mouth?

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Imagine if you never brushed your teeth or had your teeth cleaned by a dentist. How would your mouth feel? Pets can’t take care of their own dental health, which is why we need to step in.

At P.A.W.S. Pet Hospital, we make dental care a priority for our patients. That’s why we’re offering half price dental radiographs through the end of February during Dental Awareness Month.

The Dangers of Poor Pet Dental Hygiene

Pets who don’t receive proper dental care are at risk for more than just bad breath—although that’s the first sign you’ll likely notice if your pet has periodontal disease. Also called dental or gum disease, periodontal disease can not only cause gum recession, infection, and tooth loss, but also changes in the heart, kidneys, and liver.

By 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease.

What Is Periodontal Disease?

Plaque forms on pets’ and people’s teeth constantly. When it’s not removed by brushing, it changes into hardened tartar within about 24 hours.

Tartar can’t be brushed away. It has to be removed during a professional dental cleaning.

If bacteria-laden tartar isn’t removed through a veterinary dental cleaning, the pet will end up with gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and eventually advanced periodontal disease (infection and loss of tooth support).

When pets don’t receive regular dental care, they may need more than just a cleaning. Dental extractions may be required to remove infected teeth and make a pet’s mouth healthy again.

How Can I Keep My Pet’s Mouth Healthy?

Make Home Care a Priority

You play an essential role in your pet’s dental health. Brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the most important steps you can take to help keep periodontal disease at bay.

Never use human toothpaste in pets! It contains ingredients that can make your pet sick.

Although daily brushing is ideal, we understand that it may not always be possible. Fortunately, you have a number of dental products to choose from that can also help control plaque and tartar buildup in your pet:

  • Special dental diets and chews
  • Dental toys
  • Oral rinses and sprays
  • Drinking water additives
  • Dental sealants

Not all dental products are created equal. Look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance, and ask us what products we recommend.

By being proactive about dental care, you can help protect your pet’s overall health.

Schedule a Professional Dental Exam

Bringing your pet in for regular veterinary dental exams and cleanings is the other important step toward achieving better dental health for your dog or cat.

When your pet comes in for a dental exam, we’ll examine his or her teeth and gums and let you know what we recommend to maintain or improve your pet’s oral health.

We use digital dental radiographs (x-rays) to get a true picture of what your pet’s teeth look like under the gums—not just on the surface. We can only assess around 40% of a dog or cat’s teeth by just looking at them. The rest is hidden, so we use x-rays to show us what might be lurking unseen, such as painful root disease, tooth resorption, or the extent of a cracked tooth. That way, we can be sure we’re properly treating your pet.

All dental cleanings at P.A.W.S. are performed following American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) guidelines. As an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital, we take every precaution to ensure that the procedure is as safe as possible, starting with performing preanesthetic bloodwork and actively monitoring your pet during and after the cleaning.

If your pet needs any additional dental care, your P.A.W.S. veterinarian will make sure you understand what needs to be done and why.

Schedule Your Pet’s Dental Exam Today

At P.A.W.S. Pet Hospital, we’ll create an individualized dental health plan for your pet. Call us or make an appointment today.


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Is Your Pet at a Healthy Weight?

According to a recent survey, more than half of pets—around 56 million cats and 50 million dogs—in the United States may be overweight or obese!* That’s not good news, because carrying extra pounds can cause all kinds of health issues for our pets. What are the health risks for overweight pets? Both dogs and cats are at increased risk of developing:

• Arthritis and other joint issues

• Cancer

• Constipation

• Decreased immune function

• Diabetes

• Heart disease

• High blood pressure

• Kidney disease

• Liver disease

• Respiratory issues

Even scarier, dogs and cats carrying extra weight may not live as long as those at a healthy weight. The good news is that if your pet is at a healthy weight or gets back to an ideal body condition, you’ll be giving your pet the gift of a better quality of life, less risk for certain diseases, and quite possibly a better chance of living longer.

So how do I know if my pet is overweight or just right?

Take a moment to do this quick check:

• You should be able to easily feel your pet’s ribs if you run your fingers across your pet’s abdomen.

• From the side, you should also be able to see a “tuck-in” or upward slope from the belly toward your pet’s hind end.

• From the top view, your pet should have a visible waist behind the ribs.

• If you can see your pet’s ribs, though, then your pet may be too thin.

Body condition score (or BCS) is another way we determine your pet’s ideal size and shape. We assign a score of 1 to 9, with 1 being too thin and 9 being obese. The ideal score we’re aiming for is in the middle, at a 4 or 5.

Check out these charts from the World Small Animal Veterinary Association that show ideal body condition for healthy dogs and cats. Ideal weight varies, even among similarly sized dogs or cats. When you bring your pet in for a visit, we’ll show you how to gauge your pet’s weight and BCS.

Could my pet just have an underactive thyroid or some other medical condition?

It is possible, which is why your P.A.W.S. veterinarian will check your pet to rule out any medical causes that could be contributing to weight gain. However, most pets who are overweight have simply been eating more calories than they’ve burned.

How do I know if I’m feeding my pet too much?

Every pet is different, so it can be hard to figure out how much is too much when it comes to feeding your dog or cat. And every little bite—and treat—counts.

For instance, for a dog**:

• Just 1 slice of cheddar cheese is about the same as a person eating an entire doughnut.

• Consuming 1 large rawhide bone could be equal to a person eating about 7 doughnuts.

For a cat**:

• Around 1/5 of a can of tuna is about the same as a person eating an entire doughnut.

• Just 1 slice of deli ham is equivalent to a person eating 12 doughnuts.

If your pet is overweight, you’re not on your own. We’ll come up with an individualized weight management plan that includes practical and achievable nutrition and exercise goals for your pet. We can also give you advice on helping to keep your pet feeling full while working off those pounds.

When your pet comes into P.A.W.S. Pet Hospital for a check-in, we’ll make sure your pet is staying on track and help keep you motivated. Together, we can get your pet back on track.

Call or schedule an appointment today to start your pet on a healthier path.

References *Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. 2018 pet obesity survey results. Accessed November 25, 2019. **Royal Canin UK. How much are you overfeeding your pet? Published January 20, 2016. Accessed November 25, 2019.

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