Your Pet's Health
DENTAL CARE IS IMPORTANT FOR YOUR PET'S HEALTH
Proper dental care can detect dental disease that not only affects the mouth, but can also lead to more serious health problems such as heart, lung, and kidney disease.
Good dental hygiene is just as important for pets as it is for humans. Yet, it is one of the most overlooked areas in pet health. Studies by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) reveal that nearly two-thirds of pet owners do not provide the dental care recommended by veterinarians.
It used to be that pet owners had just one disease carried by a tick to worry about in their animals – Lyme disease. Now, there are more emerging tick-borne illnesses, including Ehrlichiosis and Anaplasmosis, each carried by a different tick.
“Lyme is the most common tick-borne disease in this area, but we are seeing more instances of the other two diseases,” said Dr. Tom Thompson. “Ticks are more prevalent in the city as a result of birds and mice." The deer tick, which increasingly is found in the city and not just the woods, preys on dogs, horses, deer, birds, rodents and people. Once they bite and hold on, they transmit infections they have inside their bodies. If left untreated, Lyme can lead to problems in the joints, heart, and kidneys.
Lyme is a common diagnosis in dogs with severe lameness and fever. Damage to the heart is less common in dogs than in people.
Treatment is highly successful if caught early. Lyme is treated with oral antibiotics for three weeks, while the therapy is 30 days Anaplasma or Ehrlichia.
Prevention is most important for tick diseases. This includes Lyme vaccine annually and the use of Frontline Tritak or NexGard monthly.
One piece of good news in all this is that the annual heartworm test also detects Lyme, Ehrlichia and Anaplasma. It’s a four-in-one test, an important tool to identify these serious tick-borne illnesses.
ARTHRITIS AND YOUR PET
Arthritis is a condition in which an animal’s joints become inflamed, often accompanied by pain, heat, and swelling in the joints, and it usually results in increasing stiffness and immobility. It doesn’t have to mean a poor quality of life for your pet, however.
The signs may be hard to spot at first: your gray-in-the-muzzle Labrador retriever takes a little longer to get up in the morning, or your fuzzy Persian doesn’t jump as high as she used to. As time goes on, it becomes more and more clear that your pet is having a hard time moving, and soon you realize that she is in pain whenever she walks, jumps, or even sits up. It can be a hard moment for a pet owner—learning that the animal they love has arthritis. It doesn’t have to mean a poor quality of life for your pet, however. There are medications, therapies, and ways you can modify your home to help your pet be more comfortable and enjoy his/her life with you.
There are a lot of options for coping with a pet with arthritis, and sometimes they can be overwhelming. Your closest ally in your battle against the disease is your veterinarian. Talk to your veterinarian: he or she will know which treatment or combination of treatments is best for your pet’s individual needs. Most importantly, try not to get discouraged. Arthritis may well change your life with your pet, but it certainly doesn’t mean that that life is over.
WELLNESS EXAMS - WHAT ARE THEY?
You may not be aware of just how much goes into an exam when you bring your dog or cat in for Rabies, Distemper or another vaccine.
“They are not just about giving vaccines,” said Dr. Gary Wiegel. “We give a head to paw exam, looking for any hints to health problems.”
What is part of a wellness exam?
Dr. Gary and the other Thompson Animal Medical Center veterinarians look at the:
• Mouth, looking at gums, teeth, tongue and roof of the mouth for dental problems, tumors or other conditions.
• Skin, looking for fleas, ticks and other parasites, as well as tumors and signs of allergies or infection.
• Ears, looking for infections, parasites, or foreign material.
• Eyes, looking for eye disease and signs of systemic problems like anemia, kidney disease, allergies, jaundice and much more.
• Heart and lungs, listening for heart murmurs, arrythmias, or respiratory disease.
• Weight – is it up or down and is it healthy for your dog, cat or other pet?
• Abdomen, feeling for enlarged organs, masses or painful areas, to detect problems with the stomach and other organs.
• Musculo-skeletal, checks for problems with joints and muscles.
• Reproductive system, checking for abnormal swelling or discharge.
“I also ask how things are going on at home, with both health and behavior,” Dr. Gary Wiegel said. “We want to know if your pet has been coughing, has had diarrhea, eats more or less than usual, is vomiting, gaining or losing weight. Also, a concern can be excessive drinking of water."
Laboratory tests or x-rays may be performed as well to aid in diagnosis.
These visits are important because a dog's or cat’s health can change quickly. If you catch a problem early on before it becomes serious, it is easier to treat.
“We also look at weight because we know being overweight can affect a pet’s health, even leading to diabetes and heart disease,” Dr. Gary said. “Is your dog or cat hard to get going in the morning? Does he or she seem unbalanced or weak? How about exercise?”
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