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Dental Chews & Dental Health

While almost everyone agrees that brushing your pet’s teeth is the ideal way to handle dental care, the reality is that some pets will not tolerate having their mouths handled. By “not tolerate” I mean that they might want to growl, nip, or just thrash around a lot to protest the cleaning. While you may just want to abandon the task altogether, it is actually very vital to maintain proper dental care for your pet. The failure to do so can lead to many health complications and illnesses down the road, as well as an expensive dental procedure which may involve several extractions. 

One solution to help ensure dental health and hygiene is to switch your pet’s regular diet to a food that helps with tarter control. Just like humans, dogs collect bacteria and plaque in their mouths, and it turns into tarter after 36 hours. If tarter builds up and isn’t dealt with, it can lead to painfully inflamed gums, infection, and periodontal diseases. There are many different dog foods available that facilitate healthier teeth, and some non-prescription options can be found at your local pet store. Not to mention, dry kibble food is way more effective at controlling tarter buildup than wet food that can stick to and accumulate in between teeth. Always check with your veterinarian about which one of these diets would be most appropriate for your pet!

Another option is to incorporate dental chews into your pet’s routine. Make sure that you buy a dental chew that your dog will take at least 30 minutes to chew, otherwise it won’t achieve the optimal benefit of the chew. In fact,there are many things that your dog can chew that will help its dental hygiene, but dental chews have additives to fight tartar as well as freshen breath – which let’s face it, usually dog breath doesn’t smell too pleasant!

While dental chews are very useful, they should be used in conjunction with traditional tooth brushing in order to keep your pets’ teeth nice, white, and healthy. Your veterinarian may have recommendations as to which dental chew might be best for your pet, as well as a dental plan in general. You may have to try a couple different varieties to find one that your pet enjoys and that also agrees with their system – so be patient! Your pets’ dental hygiene is just as important as yours, so treat it as such. Also, always read the directions on the packaging, because some are not intended for daily use, and they might work differently than you assume. With a healthy balance of several teeth cleaning methods, you will hopefully avoid a costly trip to the doggy dentist!

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National Pet Dental Health Month

We all know how important it is to keep up on our own dental hygiene. Routine visits to the dentist and daily oral care help to keep us healthy and pain free. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a shock that the same is true for dogs and cats.

Pet dental health is so important that the month of February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Every February is dedicated to pet dental health by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation in order to spread awareness and prevent avoidable health issues. Your pet’s dental health is a crucial aspect to their overall health as dental health issues can cause or be caused by other health problems.

Bad breath is the first sign of dental issues in cats and dogs and is unfortunately all too commonly disregarded as normal stinky pet breath by owners. The smell develops when plaque, a sticky mixture of saliva, food, and bacteria, and tartar (mineralized plaque) accumulates on the teeth. The bacteria and rotting food in plaque and tartar produce foul odors and also irritate nearby gum tissue resulting in gingivitis. Other signs of periodontal disease include oral pain, a reluctance to eat, weight loss, irritability, sneezing/nasal discharge, and facial abscesses.

Your pets teeth and gums should be evaluated at least once a year by their Veterinarian in order to check for signs of health issues and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Your pet’s Veterinarian may recommend professional dental cleanings in order to remove plaque and tartar buildup as well as to contain periodontal disease if detected.

In addition to yearly dental checkups with their Veterinarian, an at home routine for dental upkeep should be established. This can be challenging for any pet owner, so the sooner a maintenance plan is established, the better. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is ideal but may not be realistic as many pets despise this. In the event your pet will not allow you to brush their teeth, dental chews are another great option to help remove plaque and tartar.

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Valentine’s Day Safety Tips

Valentine’s Day is almost here! It’s a great holiday to celebrate with your sweetheart, but avoid potential hazards for your four-legged loved ones.

  • Roses are beautiful, but if you puppy or kitten chews on one, they can potentially get hurt. Thorns can injure their mouths, and if they actually eat some of the flowers, obstruction is a possibility. Remember to keep vases away from curious paws as well to avoid broken glass.

 

  • Lilies aren’t as big of a Valentine’s Day flower as roses but they are toxic to pets, especially cats. If your cat decides to chew on a lovely lily, call your veterinarian immediately. Kidney problems can develop from minimal exposure.

 

  • Chocolate can be toxic to pets depending on the type of chocolate and the dose ingested.

 

  • A double dose of trouble can occur if your pet eats chocolate covered raisins. Both chocolate and raisins can be toxic, so your pet is getting two potential problems at once. Contact your veterinarian if your pet manages to sneak some of this toxic treat.

 

  • Another double whammy comes in the form of chocolate covered espresso or coffee beans. Caffeine overdosing can lead to serious heart arrhythmias.

 

  • Macadamia nuts can be toxic on their own – causing neurologic signs in dogs. Adding the chocolate covering, especially if it is dark chocolate, just increases the risk of ill effects. Check with your veterinarian if your pooch makes a treat raid.

 

  • If your goal is to be careful about the calories that you consume on Valentine’s Day, you may receive food gifts that contain an artificial sweetener called xylitol. This sugar substitute can cause a dramatic drop in blood sugar in your dog and possibly lead to liver failure. Even one stick of gum with xylitol can cause problems for your dog – so call your veterinarian right away if you think he got into any food containing xylitol.

Enjoy your holiday but make sure to stick to pet safe treats or hide your treats safely away from prying paws!

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Valentine’s Day Treat Recipes

Are you looking for a way to show your pet you love them this Valentine’s Day? Consider the following homemade treats:

 

Doggy Frozen Pops
Ingredients:
-2 Cups low fat, all natural Greek yogurt (no sugar & no additives)
-1 banana
-1/3 Cup organic peanut butter
-1 Tablespoon honey

Directions:
-Combine all ingredients until incorporated and smooth.
-Pour mixture into heart shaped or other Valentine themed silicone molds and freeze for 1 hour.
-Remove and serve.

Cinnamon Bites
Ingredients:
-2 Cups whole wheat flour
-1 Tsp. baking powder
-1/4 Tsp. salt
-1/2 Cup water
-1/4 Cup canola oil
-1 egg
-2 Tblspn. honey
-1 Tsp. cinnamon

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients except for honey and cinnamon until dough forms.
-On a floured surface roll dough out into a rectangle that measures 8×14”. Drizzle the honey, and sprinkle the cinnamon.
-From the long edge of the dough, roll the dough into a cylinder. Using a knife, cut slices 1/2” thick and place slices on a nonstick cookie sheet.
-Bake for 15 minutes and allow to cool. Serve immediately or store in a covered container.

 

If baking isn’t your cup of tea, check out all these yummy treats you can buy for your pet instead!

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5 Ways to Celebrate Valentine’s Day with Your Pet

Valentine’s Day is just a few short weeks away. Whether you already made plans or are currently planning how to celebrate with your sweetie, don’t forget your pets. You may not be able to take Sparky out to a nice dinner or give him a box of chocolates, but there are plenty of other ways to celebrate the day of love with your pet. Consider the following ideas to make Valentine’s Day special for your pet:

Buy a Gift– Since candies and flowers are not safe to give to your pet, a great alternative is a new special toy. If your pet has plenty of toys, or your pet is a small pet like a fish or iguana, consider buying a new special plant or decor piece for their aquarium. What should you get for the pet that has everything? Consider donating to your favorite pet rescue or shelter in your pet’s name.

Take a Special Trip– Your pet loves you unconditionally and will absolutely enjoy extra special time with you. Why not take your pal to a dog park or on a nice walk that includes a change of scenery? It will be a great way to bond and exercise, as well as a special treat unlike their normal daily outing. Check to see if your community is hosting any Valentine’s Day themed events for pets. Many communities host costume contests and meetups for holidays.

Have a Spa Day– Make an appointment with your local groomer to pamper your pet! If your pet is not one to like trips to the groomer, consider pampering them at home. Simply brushing their coat and giving them extra cuddles will feel like the royal treatment to your pet.

Enjoy an Evening at Home– Why not plan a special movie night with your furry pal? Throw on some comfy clothes, grab comfy pillows and blankets, and park it on the couch with your pet. If you prefer not to watch a movie, read a book to your pet. Any extra love you give your pet will be greatly appreciated and they will not complain.

Treats– Give your pet a special treat they don’t normally receive every day. Order some special treats on-line, make some pet safe homemade treats, or pick some up from your local pet bakery.

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Guinea Pig Facts

Guinea pigs are a type of rodent, but don’t let that scare you away from making one part of your family. They are sweet social critters who love attention from people and don’t have a reputation for biting. Before committing to guinea pig ownership, it’s important to learn about their needs and likes:

  • A guinea pig is also known as a “Cavy”. A female guinea pig is called a “sow” while a male is called a”boar”.

 

  • Guinea pigs make great pets for children as they do not require many supplies, bond well with their owners and teach children the responsibility of pet ownership. Setting up a home for a guinea pig is fairly quick and easy with their basic necessities being a cage, food, and a tunnel to hide in.

 

  • They are inside pets who cannot handle warm weather. Warm weather can be life threatening to them as they easily develop heatstroke.

 

  • Guinea pigs have a lifespan of 7 to 9 years. This makes them great companions to bond with. It’s important to evaluate their lifespan if considering a guinea pig for a pet as they are a great deal of responsibility and commitment.

 

  • Guinea pigs purr similar to cats. They make this quiet vibrating noise when they are happy and while they are being pet. In fact, guinea pigs make many noises that may surprise their owners such as squealing, teeth chattering, and rumbling.

 

  • Guinea pigs are sociable with their human owners. They are very friendly animals and recognize and respond to their owners similar to how dogs and cats do. It’s not uncommon for them to squeal with excitement or climb up the side of their cage when their owners greet them.

 

  • They love eating vegetables so it’s important to include leafy greens and ensure they receive adequate vitamin C in their diet.
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5 Pet Hygiene Tips

Your pet is much more than a four legged companion, they are a cherished, loved family member in your family. Just like your human family members, your pet needs to practice good hygiene. Considering your pet doesn’t have hands to do this themselves, they depend on you to keep them healthy and clean. Great hygiene practices are not only beneficial for your pet, but also your entire family as it reduces the chances of bacteria spreading in the household. Consider the following hygiene tips to keep your pet in tip top health:

Clean Your Cat’s Litter Box Daily- Not only do the smells that come out of your kitty’s litter box smell funky but it’s a breading ground for germs. Intestinal parasites like hookworms and roundworms breed quickly and thrive in litter boxes and can be transmitted to humans. Toxoplasmosis is a disease that thrives in litter boxes causing flu-like symptoms and may cause birth defects in children of pregnant women. It’s spread through cat feces and is the reason why pregnant women should avoid cleaning litter boxes. Cleaning your cat’s litter box out daily is recommended to reduce the risk of these germs and parasites from breeding.

Clean Food and Water Bowls- Pet bowls are infested with germs. When a pet drinks or eats from their bowl, the bacteria in their saliva is transmitted to the bowl. This bacteria can grow, causing illness in pets and young children who may play in the bowls. Therefore, cleaning your pet’s bowls every 1-2 days is highly recommended.

Flea and Tick Prevention- Does your pet continuously suffer from the nagging itchiness of fleas and ticks? Being diligent about flea and tick prevention will keep your pet healthy and comfortable. Fleas and ticks are pests that carry many diseases that make it easy for your pet to develop diseases if your pet is not on a monthly preventative. Bathing your pet at least once every three months is recommended for hygiene. Additionally, it’s crucial for your pet to be treated with a flea and tick preventative every month. Even missing one month’s dose is enough to cause a flare up. A flea infestation is the last thing you want in your home. Don’t forget to clean your pet’s collar and toys too!

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth- Does Fido have awful breath? It could be a sign of poor dental health. One way to combat this is to ensure you’re cleaning your pet’s teeth. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is recommended, but if that’s not possible brushing them as often as you can is still beneficial. Periodontal disease is caused by poor dental hygiene and can have serious side effects to your pet’s health. Initiating a dental care routine and maintaining it will go a long way in keeping your pet healthy.

Keep Your Pet’s Ears Clean- Clean ears are vital to pet health and must be a part of your pet’s hygiene routine. This is important to remember even if your pet is not displaying symptoms of ear issues. Signs of ear issues include rubbing or scratching at the ears as well as foul odor, redness, or discharge coming from the ears. Never use Q-tips to clean your pet’s ears as this can result in serious ear damage. Instead use cotton balls and an ear cleaning solution.

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Pet Myths Debunked

-Cats Only Purr When They Are Happy

Purring is the first sound a kitten makes at the early age of 48 hours old. Cats purr mainly at times of comfort and contentment but may also purr when in pain.

-Dogs Only Wag Their Tail When Their Happy

Dogs wag their tails for many reasons. The most common reasons a dog wags their tail is due to happiness or nervousness. Learning to read what your dog is telling you when exposed to specific environments will go a long way in strengthening your relationship with him.

-If My Dog’s Nose Is Dry, He Is Sick
This is not true. Occasional dryness is perfectly normal. When a dog sleeps his nose will become dry because he stops licking at it. This causes the flow of moisture to his nasal area to stop making it moist. Dehydration and allergies can cause a dog’s nose to become dry as well.

-Cats Always Land on Their Feet
This is not entirely 100% true. While a majority of cats in fact do land on their feet, there are many factors to consider. Specifically, the age and health of the falling cat as well as the height of the fall itself play a large factor. The older and less healthy the cat is, the least likely the chances are of the cat landing safely as their reflexes are not as quick of that of a younger, healthier cat. When cats begin to fall they shift their balance from the moment the fall begins. A cat’s body reflexively corrects its course so that his feet are in position to hit the ground first. His legs will absorb the shock of the landing. A healthy cat with quick reflexes will likely be able to land on their feet and survive a fall from 5 stories or below with minimal injury.

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3 Strange Facts About Cats

Not only do cats make loving and loyal companions, they’re also fascinating creatures. Below are three strange facts you may not know about your feline companion:

1. Relative to Their Size, Cats Have the Largest Eyes of Any Mammal

One of the many reasons cats make great hunters is their superb eyesight. Their wide eyes contain slit pupils that can open wider, close tighter, and change size more quickly than many other animals, making it possible for cats to see in varying levels of light.

2. Cats Can Smell with Their Mouths

Cats have something called the vomeronasal organ, located between the hard palate and the nasal septum. Cats open their mouths and let particles in, allowing them to be analyzed by the vomeronasal organ.

3. Cats Have Whiskers on Their Legs 

In addition to having whiskers on their chins, cheeks, and eyebrows, cats also have them on their legs. These whiskers help a cat with body awareness and navigation.

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Walk Your Pet Month

The American Veterinary Medical Association designates January as Walk Your Pet Month. Despite cold weather and the temptation to cuddle up with your pet in your warm house, it’s very important for your pet to get their daily exercise. Lack of exercise may negatively effect your pet’s health. Pets who do not receive adequate exercise are highly susceptible to obesity, diseases such as diabetes, breathing issues, and numerous other health issues. These preventative health issues will not only be stressful for both you and your pet, but will also be stressful for your wallet. Not only is exercise beneficial for your pet’s physical health but it’s also critical for their mental health. Implementing a daily routine of a walk (or another type of exercise) will become a highly anticipated highlight of their day that will positively influence their health and strengthen their relationship with you. Whether you have a dog or cat there are many ways to get their daily exercise in:

A simple 10-15 minute daily walk is the perfect amount of time to exercise your dog. Taking a quick walk around the block will not only benefit your dog’s health, but it will also benefit your relationship with him as you both bond. If weather does not permit an outside walk consider walking your dog in an indoor building or taking him to an indoor dog park. If he’s not keen on going for walks play a game of fetch with a frisbee or ball! Simply playing with your dog will not only be loads of fun for both of you but also great exercise!

If you have a cat that is trained to walk on a leash, take him for a stroll! If your kitty cat is like most, and refuses to wear a harness and be walked on a leash, check out our tips for training your cat to walk on a leash. If all else fails, do not get discouraged. Instead, consider dangling some toys in front of him to get him up and moving. Scratch posts and perches are great for getting your kitty’s exercise in as well. 

Check out your local community activities as well. Pet related activities may be right in your neighborhood. It’s also a great way to get out of the house and meet people who are just as in to their pets as you are! Get creative and have fun!

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