1. Does my indoor cat need vaccines?
It seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? If my cat does not go outside and does not encounter disease, then why does he need vaccines every year? Here are a half-dozen good reasons your veterinarian wants to keep your cat up-to-date on vaccines. If you are unsure if your cat is up-to-date on vaccines, contact your veterinarian today to find out.
- Your cat could accidentally get outdoors. They are curious about that big exciting world outside their windows and will not hesitate to go exploring. It only takes a few hours outside for an indoor cat to come in contact with a stray cat or wild animal carrying disease.
- If your cat ends up at a shelter, he or she could be exposed to sick cats. We all hope that this never happens, but as mentioned before, cats can and do escape from their home. If your cat is found but does not have any identity, such as a collar or microchip, the next stop is the local animal shelter. The stress of being taken to the shelter along with crowded shelter conditions can make cats more susceptible to disease.
- You cat may have a lifestyle change. When you bring that adorable kitten home, you are most likely expecting to have him or her for life. However, sometimes life brings changes beyond our control, such as divorce, death in the family, or a move, which can all affect your cat’s lifestyle. There are numerous cats that start out as indoor kittens but later become outdoor cats.
- Stress can cause latent disease to flare-up. Cats are often exposed to the feline herpes virus early on in life, especially if they come from a shelter or contracted the disease in-utero. Cats without up-to-date vaccinations can more easily contract respiratory infections or other disease that can cause latent or dormant disease to flare up in an already sick cat.
- Viruses such as Calicivirus and Feline Herpesvirus can be spread by inanimate objects. A “fomite” is any inanimate object that can carry an infectious organism. Grooming supplies and even shoes and clothing can act as a fomite bringing disease into your home.
2. How can I help my pet’s dental health at home?
You have noticed recently that Buddy’s breath is less than fresh and you are wondering how to help him? Maybe you have noticed that Buddy does not like to chew on toys or dry kibble that he used to love? Depending on the stage of Buddy’s dental disease, there are some good home care remedies that help to keep tartar and gingivitis at bay.
A. Teeth Brushing: If your pet allows it, brushing their teeth daily with a pet toothpaste (NOT human toothpaste) is the gold-standard for treating dental disease. It’s more work but definitely helps the most.
B. Dental diet: We recommend Hill’s Science Diet T/D dental diet. The T/D diet is a complete, balanced diet that can be fed on a daily basis and has been proven to clinically reduce dental disease. The T/D diet can be fed as treats as well, but less frequent use decreases the positive results. T/D is available at Dupont Veterinary Clinic.
C. Chew Products: OraVet Oral Chews (by the makers of Heartgard and Nexgard) are daily oral chews that reduce both halitosisand tartar accumulation. CET Rawhide Chews are rawhide treats coated with enzymes to help inhibit plaque and tartar. Blue Buffalo Dental Bones are another simple option to help reduce tartar. All are available at our hospital.
D. Food Additives: We recommend Clenz-a-dent Food Additive as another easy aid in slowing down plaque and tartar accumulation.
Here is an image displaying the 4 stages of dental disease. Make an appointment with your veterinarian at Dupont Veterinary Clinic to determine if your pet needs a professional cleaning and polishing. Some pets, especially those in stages 3 and 4, can start to lose teeth if your veterinarian does not step in to help your pet.
3. Is my pet overweight?
Obesity in pets is on a steady incline in the United States. Overweight pets are at a much higher risk for developing arthritis, orthopedic disease, cancer, diabetes, and other illnesses. It is important to first determine if your pet is overweight and then determine what his or her ideal weight would be. Click on the following link to be directed to a resource that will walk you through these steps. This article will show you a body fat index risk chart to determine how overweight your pet truly is, then on the second page it will determine what your pet’s ideal weight should be. Feel free to stop by Dupont Veterinary Clinic at any time to put your pet on the scale for a more accurate weight, especially while they are losing weight. There are diseases, such as hypothyroidism, that can lead to weight loss because of a decreased metabolism. If you are concerned about your pet’s weight, contact your veterinarian to have them help you develop a diet plan or recommend a diet for your pet and look for any illness that may be preventing your pet from losing weight.
4. What food should I be feeding my pet?
There are numerous foods on the store shelves and it can be overwhelming when trying to select the appropriate one for your pet. For puppies, make sure to get a food that is labeled for puppies as this provides better overall nutrition for their growing bodies. If you have a large or giant breed puppy, make sure to get a large breed puppy food because this helps provide better nutrition for their large, rapidly growing joints. Hill’s Science Diet has a great large breed puppy, toy breed puppy, or even puppy food (for those puppies of average size) for those youngsters at home. If your pet is between the ages of 1 to 7 and does not have any other dietary restrictions, we recommend selecting a diet labeled for adult dogs. If your pet is 8 years or older, we recommend a senior diet because this type of diet provides less calories for our less active pets as well as added nutrients to support joint health. We do not recommend selecting a diet that is listed for “all life stages” (this label is often listed on the back of the label) as this type of diet provides the same nutrients and calories that would be appropriate for a lactating mother or puppy as it would for a less active senior pet! Just like humans, pets have different nutritional needs at different stages of their life and we need to change their diets accordingly. If you are unsure of the food that you are feeding your pet, feel free to bring the food bag into your vet to have them give you a better nutritional assessment.
5. How do I remove a tick from my pet?
With the warm weather upon us we are seeing an increasing number of ticks on our pets. Here is a link to a short video that can help walk you through safe removal of a tick from your pet and signs and symptoms to look out for after the tick is removed. If you are concerned about removing a tick from your pet, you can schedule an appointment with the technicians at Dupont Veterinary Clinic to have them help you remove the tick. It is important, especially if you are noticing ticks on your pet, to put your pet on a tick preventative. If you are not sure if the monthly preventative your pet is on works against ticks, call your veterinarian to have them help you pick out the best product for your pet.
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
Are your pets getting cabin fever? Here are 5 quick tips on how to keep you and your pets active this winter.
- Hide and Seek
Position your dog in a different room in the house, preferably with a staircase or a couple rooms between you and them. Then call your pet to come and find you and reward him with a treat when he finds you. Each time your dog (or cat!) finds one family member, the other person changes location so your dog has to seek them out again.
- The Searching Game
Hide your pet’s favorite toys with treats inside or even just treats around the house and then prompt your dog to go search to find them. Here is a short video on how to train your pet to search for treats. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSa3JMjq5EI )
- Teach Your Pet New Tricks
Keeping pets mentally stimulated is very helpful in beating the winter doldrums. There are endless tricks and training sessions that you can do from home. Start with simple tricks, such as “stay” or “shake,” then move on to more complicated tricks like “roll over” or “high five.” Keep training sessions to about 15 minutes so it is fun for everyone. Teaching your pet new tricks helps encourage good behavior and helps you bond with your pet.
- Make Mealtime Fun
Pets like to scavenge to look for their food. Try offering his meals in a feeding toy rather than just in a food bowl. They will not eat as quickly and it will help to keep them busy.
- Create an Indoor Agility Course
Build obstacles for your pet to navigate, like an agility course, with household items. You can use chairs as weave poles to navigate around, place a blanket over the tops of chairs to create a tunnel for your dog to run under, or a hula hoop in your hands for your pet to jump through. Train your pet to run through the course with a hand target and use a lot of treats and praise as a reward. These obstacles encourage your pet to be more active and help you bond with your pet too.
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic want to encourage healthy relationships between pets and their owners. Cold weather and short days make it easy for us and our pets to become a bit lazy in the wintertime. We hope these 5 tips help you and your pets stay busy this winter.
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
February is dental health month, which means it’s time for your pet to open wide for a dental examination! Just like in people, if plaque and tartar build up and are left untreated it can progress to painful periodontal disease.
Dupont Veterinary Clinic offers a discount for dental exams during the month of February to honor dental health month. Be sure to schedule your pet a dental exam soon because spaces do fill up quickly!
Signs of oral and dental disease in pets
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth or teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- Your pet avoiding having his or her mouth touched
- Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
- Loss of appetite or loss of weight
- This combination can be due to many different diseases and it is important to have an examination by a veterinarian right away.
Here are five tips on how to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy:
- Bad Breath
If you cannot stand your pet’s breath, do not ignore it! Bad breath in pets is a warning sign for periodontal disease. The tartar and bacteria that build up cause this foul odor and it is important to remove the bacteria sooner rather than later. The bacteria eat away at the gum line and work their way into the blood stream, showering your pet’s body with a lot of bacteria! Here is a before and after image of a pet with significant tartar and periodontal disease (notice the red and inflamed gum line at the base of the teeth on the before image).
- Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
It may be difficult at first to start this routine, but with enough patience and tasty treats, you can gradually train your pet to accept the tooth brush and pet toothpaste. Start by letting your pet smell the toothbrush and the toothpaste, then gradually work your way to brushing for 30 seconds on each side of the mouth at least every other day.
Caution: Human toothpaste is not safe for pets! Be sure to use a pet approved product.
- Consider Dental Toys, Treats, and Food
There are treats, toys, and food specifically designed to promote oral health; however, they are not as effective as brushing your pet’s teeth. Be sure to look for the Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council to make sure that the product meets the standards for effective plaque and tartar control.
Stop in to see your veterinarian at Dupont Veterinary Clinic to ask them about the prescription diet specifically designed to promote oral health.
- Dental Exam
Pets need to have their teeth and gums checked regularly by a veterinarian, just like humans do. A cursory exam can be performed by your vet without sedation, but for a complete dental evaluation your pet will have to be placed under anesthesia. During the dental exam the veterinarian will check the head and neck for any abnormalities, look for any broken or cracked teeth, stage your pet’s dental disease (the severity of tartar, gum disease, redness and inflammation), and look for any other abnormalities in the oral cavity, such as cancerous lumps or bumps.
- Don’t let Anesthesia Stop you From Getting a Dental Cleaning
In order to perform a thorough examination of your pet’s teeth and gums, remove the plaque and tartar, and really clean your pet’s pearly whites, anesthesia is required. Placing your pet under anesthesia sounds scary, but in fact, the procedure has never been safer or more comfortable for your pet. Before the anesthesia even begins, we perform pre-screening blood tests to ensure that your pet is healthy enough for the procedure. There are numerous benefits of dental cleaning that outweigh the risks of anesthesia.
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic will keep you informed throughout the procedure. There will be a meeting at the time of drop off with a veterinary technician; after the bloodwork is performed, if any health conditions are encountered, you will be contacted prior to anesthesia. After your pet’s teeth are examined and cleaned you will again be contacted when your dog or cat has recovered from anesthesia.
We at Dupont Veterinary Clinic aim to provide the best possible care for your pet, which includes regular dental examination and cleaning. Contact your veterinarian with any questions regarding dental cleaning and to schedule your pet’s dental exam today!
By Ashley Dawes, DVM
How Do I Choose The Best Food For My Pet?!
Walking into a store to choose a pet food for your dog or cat can at times be overwhelming because of the wide variety of brands and options. Feeding a high-quality, well-balanced diet is one of the best things that you as a pet owner can do for the health and well-being of your pet. The right food will help keep your pet’s coat shiny, strengthen their immune system, and keep his digestive system in good health. If your pet has any health concerns, please contact your veterinarian at Dupont Veterinary Clinic for advice on what diet would be most appropriate for your pet. We hope to help you sift through all of the brands and advertising to find the perfect food for your loved one.
What do I look for?
Knowing what ingredients make up the best dog food is a key first step before selecting a diet. The Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) has created guidelines for regulators to manage claims a pet food company can make on its label. Looking for the AAFCO label on a pet food brand certifies that the pet food has followed regulations and has to exceed certain expectations prior to being packaged and being put on a shelf. Ensuring that the food you are feeding is complete and balanced for a particular life stage, such as puppy, adult maintenance, or mature senior, is also important because this indicates that your pet is getting more of the ingredients vital for their stage of life.
What’s in a name?
Under AAFCO guidelines, if a food is labeled to contain a single ingredient it must contain at least 95% of that ingredient, excluding water. If the food advertises a combination of ingredients, that combination has to make up at least 95% of that food. For example, if that food claims to include only chicken, then under AAFCO guidelines chicken must make up 95% of the food. Under AAFCO guidelines a food label containing the words dinner, platter, or entrée means that the food must contain 25% of the named ingredient. If the name states “with” a specific ingredient, such as “with rice,” only 3% of the named ingredient is required. In addition if a product is advertised to contain specific “flavors” the food only needs to contain a detectable amount of the ingredient.
Reading the food label
Deciphering a pet food label can be almost as confusing as picking the appropriate food off of the shelf! Look at the list of ingredients and keep in mind that the ingredients are listed by weight. Ingredients that contain a lot of moisture, such as beef, poultry, chicken, or fish, are more likely to be at the top of the list. Nutrients that are further down the list may be just as important; however, they may weigh less because the water has been removed for a dry pet food.
Is grain or gluten bad for my pet?
Unless your pet has been diagnosed with a food allergy, these ingredients do not need to be avoided. Grains are contained in numerous pet foods and are an excellent source of carbohydrates. Grains are easily digested and used as an energy source. Some pets are allergic to grains; however, allergies to meats (protein) are much more common than to grains. Gluten allergies in people are fairly common and is known as Celiac’s disease, fortunately, gluten allergies are very rare in dogs. There are a very select few Irish Setters or Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers that are sensitive to gluten, luckily these cases are very few and far between.
Ask your vet’s advice
We hope this article helps you to sift through all of the different brands of pet food and gives you a better understanding of what to look for in a food for your pet. If you are unsure of how to decipher a pet food label or if you are uncertain if a pet food is appropriate for your pet, call Dupont Veterinary Clinic at 260-637-7676 to speak with your veterinarian. We want to help you choose the best food possible for your pets so they can live a long, happy, and healthy life.
By Dr. Ashley Dawes