Don't ignore your pet's bad breath! Lack of proper dental hygiene is often the cause of stinky breath, but it may also indicate other, more serious issues with your pet's health. However, we do understand how easy it is to miss as most of the problems that stem from poor hygiene occur where you can't see them - below your pet's gum line.
The first line of defense is always home care. And while some animals, such as dogs, may tolerate their owners handling their mouths and brushing their teeth, most, especially cats, will struggle or act out. This can make oral care difficult at best, and at worst, ineffective.
The best way to ensure your pet's oral health is to have regular cleanings at our office. Our veterinarian will be able to discuss with you how often you ought to come in as well as a home hygiene regimen. This will help to prevent dental issues from progressing to larger (and potentially deadly) internal issues, such as dysfunction or disease in the heart, kidneys, liver, or lungs.
In the wild, hiding pain, illness, or other weaknesses are survival instincts. Many times, your pet will have the same instincts, even in the safety and comfort of your loving home, which is why keeping an eye on your pet's eating habits and behaviors is so important. However, recognizing the difference between normal changes in mood and red flags can be difficult sometimes.
What you interpret as a persistent grumpiness may actually be a sign that your pet is in pain. New irritability, shying away from being touched (especially on the face and around the mouth or throat), sluggishness, loss of appetite or difficulty eating, and lethargy are all behavioral signs which may indicate illness.
However, if you note any of the following physical changes, contact your vet immediately:
Red and swollen gums
Bleeding gums, especially when eating or when having teeth brushed
Swelling around the mouth
Oral abscesses, often appearing as swelling in the face
Loose or missing teeth
Crusted build up at the edge of the gums
Persistent bad or fetid breath
Preventing oral infections and gum disease will help your pet live a longer, healthier life. And remember, caring for your pet with regular cleanings now will save you money later!
Feline Distemper, also known as Feline Panleukopenia and FPV, is a highly contagious viral disease that can be debilitating and even fatal. Kittens between 2 and 6 months of age are the most vulnerable to the disease, followed by pregnant and immune-compromised cats. Surviving FPV comes with immunity to any further infections by the virus.
The FPV virus is mainly transmitted through direct contact with the blood, feces or urine of an infected cat, but can also be spread by fleas that have been feeding on a contaminated cat. Humans can inadvertently pass FPV after handling the equipment used by contaminated cats if they do not follow proper handwashing protocols. The virus can live on surfaces for up to a year and is resistant to the majority of cleaning products with the exception of household bleach.
FPV attacks the blood cells of an infected cat, particularly those in the bone marrow and intestinal tract. If the infected cat is pregnant, the virus will also attack the stem cells of the unborn kitten. FPV makes your pet more vulnerable to other viral and bacterial diseases as well.
The primary symptoms of FPV include but are not limited to:
Diarrhea (may be blood-stained)
Loss of appetite
Other symptoms include lack of coordination, hiding away from owners, tucking feet away, or resting the chin on the floor for prolonged periods.
Regular vaccinations and examinations will help keep your pet healthy and happy. While your veterinarian will be able to advise you of the frequency that your pet should be examined, most recommend either annual or bi-annual visits. Since pets age an average of 7 times faster than humans, they are considered middle-aged by the time they reach 6/7 years old and larger breeds of dogs are often considered to be seniors by the time they reach 8.
Typical components of a wellness examination include:
Checking the central nervous center
Checking and cleaning the ears; treating if required
Checking joints and mobility
Checking skin and condition of coat
Checking urinary and reproductive systems
Listen to the heart
Listen to the lungs
Observation of alertness and response
Palpate the abdomen checking for painful areas and/or growths or tumors
Physical examination of the rest of the body for unusual lumps
Other tests that your pet may be given include:
Heartworm testing (otherwise known as blood parasite screening)
Fecal testing, which allows the veterinarian to check for the presence of internal parasites such as hookworms, roundworms or whipworms.
Blood work which screens for infection or disease that may not otherwise be detected through a physical examination. Blood work also gives the veterinarian a comprehensive assessment of your pet's health.
If you have decided that a cat is the right pet for you, you may think that the decision-making process is complete, but in fact, you are just beginning. Cats, like humans, are all very different and selecting one to suit your needs and lifestyle is vitally important as having a cat requires the commitment of your love, care, and attention for upwards of 10-15 years. Here is our guide to helping you pick your perfect cat.
Many people instinctively choose kittens over adult cats due largely to their childlike cuteness, curiosity, and playful behavior. However, many do not realize that they need a great deal of supervision, patience, attention, and training. Leave kittens unsupervised in your living room for any period of time and you could be faced with a surprising level of destruction! It is also difficult to know exactly what personality they may develop once they outgrow their kitten traits. She may become a docile companion, or she may continue to be a mischievous and energetic ball of fur.
It is also important to remember that if you are bringing a kitten into a home with very young children, an added amount of supervision will be needed as your child may exhibit the same curious and mischievous behavior as your kitten and may not be as gentle as needed with the kitten.
By comparison, older cats may have outgrown some of that initial cuteness, but the typical behaviors that they exhibit after around the age of one will be a reliable indicator of their regular temperament.
Responsible pet owners should always make sure that their pets are well-groomed. In the case of long-haired animals, this can end up being a considerable commitment. Long fur needs to be brushed at least once per day in order to prevent matting. Therefore, if you decide on a long-haired cat, you will need to ensure that you have sufficient time to dedicate to daily grooming.
However, not all cats like being groomed and if your cat doesn’t, then you may have to enlist the services of a professional groomer and you will then need to factor in the cost of regular grooming appointments. But if your cat is one that loves to be pampered, then she will come running as soon as she sees her brush!
While purebred cats tend to conform to what is known as a ‘breed standard,’ meaning that you can predict their expected physical and behavioral characteristics based on breed type, each animal is still unique. Many people believe that purchasing a purebred feline will not only guarantee its temperament but will also ensure that it will be in good health, but sadly, this is not the case. Many purebred animals suffer from genetic health problems due to inbreeding.
It is also possible to estimate the physical and behavioral traits of mixed breed cats based on the combination of breeds used to create it. For example, combining two short-haired, highly active breeds will be extremely likely to produce another short-haired highly active cat.
As we have said, whether pure or mixed breed, each cat is unique and will require handling to suit their personality. Some are sedentary, some are active and some love to be stroked and handled while others will only come to you for petting when it suits them. If you are looking for a companion cat, then you would ideally be looking for a sedentary and tactile cat, whereas if you are looking for a cat to play with children, then you should aim for a more active breed.
While for many people the concept of grooming your pet conjures up notions of brushes and bows, it is, in fact, a vital element to their overall health and wellbeing. Regularly grooming your animal allows any underlying diseases or conditions to be caught early which means earlier and more efficient diagnosis and treatment.
If you have a puppy or a kitten, it will be important for you to begin training them to like or at least tolerate the grooming process, which will be beneficial to them as they reach maturity. This is especially true of nail clipping and ear cleaning which requires them to sit completely still for the process.
Reputable breeders will often begin grooming their litters as soon as they are old enough to help get them used to the process. However, despite training and conditioning, not all animals enjoy the grooming process and many owners find it easier to send their pet to a professional groomer instead. Even if you do opt to use a professional pet groomer, there are still a number of regular grooming techniques that you can do at home with your pet to strengthen your bond.
Here are some of the important benefits of pet grooming.
Homeopathy is a medical philosophy and practice based on the theory that by using the correct natural substances, the body can heal itself. Homeopathic remedies are used by more than 200 million people around the globe to treat a wide range of conditions.
The underlying principle is that the same substance that causes symptoms when given in a large dose, could also cure those symptoms if administered in a small dose. The trick is to find the remedy that best matches the symptoms.
Holistic medicines are derived from entirely natural substances such as minerals, plants and animal matter which stimulate the immune system and promote natural self-healing.
While omeopathic remedies are completely natural and safe for the majority of humans and pets, your veterinarian will be able to advise you if there is any reason why homeopathy may not be suitable for your pet.
Homeopathy in animals has had so many success stories that an increasing number of veterinarians are studying, gaining qualifications in, and practicing the principles.
Homeopathy has had proven results in an extensive range of chronic and acute conditions including:
Digestive and endocrine diseases
Fleas, skin and coat disorders
Heart and kidney diseases
Bone and joint disorders
Ears, eyes, nose and mouth problems
Immune system disorders
Mood and behavior problems
Reproductive system problems
Viruses and acute infections
Healing and recovery
Despite how careful we try to be regarding toxic substances, there are still thousands of pets every year who unfortunately suffer from the accidental ingestion of harmful substances, many of which are household poisons. Poisoning can cause extreme health problems and even death, but these can be prevented by understanding which common household toxins may harm your pet and how to poison-proof your home. This guide will also explain some of the symptoms you should look out for and what you should do if you suspect your pet has ingested a toxic substance.
We have taken information from the Pet Poison Helpline website to bring you information on some of the most common poisons for cats and dogs. Please be aware that these lists are in no specific order and the toxicity levels for these poisons are variable.
Top Ten most commonly reported cat poisons:
Top Ten most commonly reported dog poisons:
Plants that are poisonous to pets
Although there are thousands of species of plants, there are a few that are highly toxic to pets.
This list represents some of the most poisonous plants to pets.
As Spring warms up into Summer and the humidity and heat start to really set in, it's good to remember that, like every other member in your family, you need to take extra care with your pet. When the weather begins to heat up, it is easier for you to become dehydrated and dangerously overheated, which can result in falling unconscious, vital organ damage, or even death. The same is true for your pets!
We tend to think of animals as hardier than humans, but the truth is, dogs and cats begin to experience heatstroke (hyperthermia, medically speaking) at the same internal body temperature as humans do — 104° F, with severe heatstroke beginning at 105° to 106° F internally. It might be more difficult for you to gauge temperature with smaller pets such as hamsters, but there's one rule of thumb to keep in mind: always watch the heat index. Meteorologists use the heat index value to determine what the temperature is once humidity is applied and it's this balance of heat and humidity that is dangerous to the health of you and your pet.
Starting when the heat index is 90° F, you need to be sure to take precautions to protect your pets. They won't be able to ask you to turn on the air conditioning or for extra water and they won't be able to tell you when they're starting to feel ill. Your pets depend on you to responsibly monitor the weather and give them what they need to stay healthy and comfortable.
Cats are known for being notoriously fussy creatures. They demand attention when it suits them, but reject snuggling with their owner when it doesn’t. They are picky eaters, can appear aloof and indifferent to their owners and seem pretty happy to go it alone most of the time.
This fussy attitude often even extends to their sleeping habits, and many owners have gone out and spent a considerable amount of money to provide a large, plush and expensive cat bed, only to find that their kitty refuses to sleep in it. But is she just being fussy, or is there an ulterior motive for this behavior?
According to animal behavior experts, most cats prefer to sleep and hang out in places with good vantage points, which comes from their natural survival instincts. A high position for sleeping or resting gives them an aerial advantage for spotting any potential dangers around them. Much of this instinct comes from their ancestry. Early cats were hunters that lived in the wild, and their climbing ability meant that they had somewhere to retreat to away from larger predators in addition to the capability of attacking smaller prey high up in the branches.
Letting children, particularly young children, and pets, especially new ones, play can be a little nerve-wracking. The main concern is for the safety of the child as it is more likely that an animal would physically hurt a child than the other way around. However, kids can injure pets too, and not just that, children can antagonize a pet to the point where the animal will act out.
This is mostly due to a couple of factors. First, children are still growing, learning, and testing boundaries, coupled with still learning how to verbalize their thoughts and needs. Second, pets can't verbalize at all, making it more difficult for them to communicate when they don't like something, want certain behaviors to stop, or are in pain. As a parent, you will need to step in and fill this fundamental gap in order for your child and your pet to be able to better understand each other.
Keep in mind that some animals simply aren't comfortable around children, and that's okay. When adopting a new pet, especially if it's older, be sure to talk to the shelter or rescue organization staff to make sure the animal is safe to live with kids. Similarly, if you already have kids and kid-friendly pets, but are ready to adopt a new pet, make sure to ask if the animal is also comfortable with other animals. Bringing a new pet into a home where it's uncomfortable will only make them more stressed, and therefore more likely to hurt someone.