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Teeth, and Ears and Paws! Oh My!

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It should come to no surprise that regular and proper maintenance of your pet insures a happy, healthy and pro-active life! But all to often it’s the little things that seem to build up, often times overlooked or neglected. Many people come in for both cats and dogs to get regular grooming but many are unaware of the importance of what might seem as “the small stuff.” In this blog post we’ll tackle three most commonly overlooked body parts of your cat and dog that often times impact their health.

Teeth are an essential aspect to a carnivore like a dog or a cat, obviously their used for eating. Dog and cat dentistry is vitally important to keep up those healthy purly whites of theirs. Without proper maintenance you can run into a serious risk of loss of teeth. This is one reason why it’s important they have hard foods over soft foods to eat, this will help reinforce the teeth. The most common aspect of lack of animal dentistry is gum problems. It’s estimated that 85% of canines (for example) over the age of 4 develop some form of gum disease. Other common problems with teeth include cracking, the loss and crooked teeth which can cause infection.

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The loss of teeth is usually due to some sort of gum disease in older dogs. It’s important to understand that if this happens it’s important to make an appointment with your vet ASAP as this could be a sign of illness. Mangled teeth, or crooked teeth, can cause problems with eating. It’s important to use proper toys, for both dogs and cats. A good indication if a toy isn’t good is if there is blood left over after the animal has played with set item. The real problem comes when plaque begins to build and is left untreated.

Plaque untreated can cause gingivitis and eventually cause periodontal disease among other gum related problems.

Though it’s quite important to have hard things for dogs especially to chew on, it’s also important to understand when items are too rough or problematic. Chewing the wrong thing can cause tooth trauma, and eventually this could potentially lead to cracking or crooked teeth and left untreated can cause infection.

From a cracked or broken tooth comes tooth root abscess, this is a very painful and problematic bacterial infection. This happens when the root of the tooth comes into contact with bacteria, and thus causes an infection. If this has happened it’s important to see a veterinarian immediately. It’s a very painful and agonizing experience for your pet.

There are many, many wonderful products for breath, mouth and teeth found in pet stores specifically for the mouth of your pet; often times they are toys, sprays, liquids, treats, foods and brushes geared for protection and maintenance of teeth, gums, tongue, breath and mouth!

Moving away from teeth and moving unto ears.

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Ears that consistently have build up, that has been left unchecked, can cause problems of infections and temporary deafness. Not only that, the build up in ears can encourage the presence of mites. Ears are very sensitive, especially in cats. Without proper maintenance of your pets ears you run the risk of damaging the ear which can lead to further problems down the road. Another common problem is blood blisters, this is where blood accumulates in the ear flap. This usually comes due to mites, fleas and infections.

Lastly the paws.

Though nails are common, people just seem to overlook it. If nails aren’t properly maintained it can cause walking problems and nerve problems in the nails. It can be very painful. Overgrowth is quite common, in minor cases it causes discomfort and difficulty of walking. In extreme cases it can cause separation of toes, arthritis, problems with the paws themselves and bone problems. With paws themselves, they can be easily scratched and torn open, which can lead to infection. That’s why dog boots are very much encouraged for those who walk their dogs in forested areas for example. The protection of your cat and dog pads and nails is crucial.

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When all of these things are taken into consideration and properly looked after, not only will you have a healthy, happy pet but one where you minimize the risk of severe problems in the future. A healthy pet, is a happy pet, and a happy pet is a happy you!

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Fleas Begone!

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Well it is that time of the year Flea season and people are in asking what my thoughts are.

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Let’s start with how does my pet get fleas? There are multiple answers to this question, but to name a few they can come into contact with another animal that has them. The fleas can be in the grass your pet is playing on and they hitch a ride .You can even bring them home on your shoes as you walk across the local park grass Adult fleas need a live host to live on and feed from so they go looking for a warm body . The good news is that we taste bad and the proteins in our blood is not what they are looking for, that’s why they bite us but then leave looking for a different blood supply. With this in mind they will not spread to your other pets as well but you need to make sure that their cages are clean as they can lay eggs in the bedding.

How do you know if fleas are causing all that itching – formally known as aspruritus?

Generally, unlike the burrowing, microscopic Demodex or Scabies Mites, fleas can be seen scurrying along the surface of the skin. Dark copper colored and about the size of the head of a pin, fleas dislike light so looking for them within furry areas and on the pet’s belly and inner thighs will provide your best chances of spotting them. Another way to look for them is to look for f “flea dirt”, Get out your Flea comb this is a comb that the tines are tight together to trap the flea dirt. Flea dirt looks like dark specks of pepper scattered on the hair and skin surface, which is actually flea feces and is composed of digested blood. Take your comb after you have run it though the pet’s hair and bang it on a damp paper towel. If after a few minutes the tiny specks spread out like a small blood stain, it’s definitely flea dirt and your pet has fleas!

What to do now, we must first understand the flea’s life cycle since the various modern treatment and prevention products work on different parts of this life cycle. There are several stages to its life cycle: egg, larva or caterpillar, pupa or cocoon, and adult. The length of time it takes to complete this cycle varies depending upon the environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and the availability of a nourishing host. There are three steps to treating fleas. An adult female may lay several hundred eggs over her life span. These eggs fall off of the pet into the yard, bedding, carpet, and wherever else the animal spends time.

STEP 1 Is to treat the premises with what is called a premise spray .This spray is used to treat the floor base board cracks anywhere the pet may go and the eggs fall of and stay to develop they can stay dormant for 6 months if need be
STEP 2 Time to treat the pet. I suggest you go to a pet store (not a box store) and get a good quality flea shampoo this is not the time to cheep out especially if you have a pet that does not like to be bathed, as you might have to do it more than once depending on how bad your pet is infested. If bathing the pet is a major problem you can buy body sprays at your pet store and they will work the same way. There are both chemical ways and natural ways to deal with fleas on your pet.
STEP 3 Is the most controversial ,it is preventative measures so that these pest do not come back . People will go to their vets who will say that you have to use their treatment, pet store say use ours. People say who do; I believe well I have been in the pet world for 30 yrs and have had dogs all my life and never used vet treatment. The big thing here is, you must treat the pet monthly or whatever is recommended by the product you choose to use. Do not over dose as you are using a pesticide and why the products are sold based on the pets wait and no not use cat on a small dog .You may have read things on the internet about a product harming or killing a pet in almost all of the case when the follow up is done it is found that the person use treatment for a great dane on a yorkie or cat treatment on a small dog

There are also alternative medicinal measures you can take to help treat your animals, be aware that some alternative medicines are okay for dogs but not necessarily okay for cats. These alternative medicines work especially well in preventing fleas. Citronella, orange, lemon, lemon balm and lemon grass (as well with bergamot) are said to be great repellents to fleas and is a great alternative medicine of getting rid of fleas as well. The safest of these is lemon, which can be easily turned into a spray by steeping a lemon (cut into quarters) in water overnight.

Apple cider vinegar is also quite safe for animals as well, and make their skin more acidic and not that appealing to fleas. As such it is often added to the water dish. Cats are allergic to things like garlic and chives and onions, however, dogs can generally eat these items in moderation making their blood unappealing to fleas and ticks.

Brewer’s Yeast is also quite common, but you should always check in with a veterinarian for the proper dosages depending on weight, species and allergies.

We’ve already mentioned citronella and lemon, but lavender (especially the natural oil) and rosemary (both water and oil) make wonderful repellents (especially the lavender) and can help eliminate the fleas (more so with the rosemary). These are just some alternative medicines one can use.

In conclusion if you give these little vermin the chance to come back into your pets’ life they will. You can pay a little now and stay on top of the problem or you can pay a lot later like having to get an exterminator in or vet bills when your pet gets sick. A little truly does go a long way.

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