Thank you to all the essential employees who are working so hard on the front lines to keep us all safe, healthy and well fed. For the rest of us who are home, our pets can bring great comfort during these uncertain and scary times. Our pets are loving that we are home, giving them more attention and not leaving them alone all day. Unfortunately, this sets up a situation ripe for Separation Anxiety once we all go back to work, school and our normal daily lives. For those with pets who have already shown signs of Separation Anxiety, this situation may worsen what you have previously experienced. Even for pets who have not shown previous Separation Anxiety signs, the sudden change in situation could stimulate some anxiety related symptoms. So what can we do to help prepare our beloved pets to not be traumatized when we need to leave the house again?
1) Try to spend at least some time away from your pet every day -
Take your dog for a walk and then maybe go for a walk on your own. If you can't do that, try to at least spend time in a different room or another part of the house. Act like you are getting ready to leave, go out and spend some time in your car. If your dog is crated, make sure to still crate them for at least a portion of the normal time they would spend in the crate.
2) Use training departures to mimic your normal routine -
This is a great time to help those dogs with Separation Anxiety, and without, to actually be more prepared and less scared when you leave in the future. How to accomplish this is to go through your normal "getting ready to leave" routine. Monitor your dog closely to see when they start to show signs of stress or anxiety. Subtle signs of stress can be yawning, lip licking, ear back, eyes off to the side so that you can see the whites of the eyes, "pouting", amount others. Once you have determined when your dog becomes stressed, go through your routine to just prior to that point and then stop and stay home. Go through your routine again and try to get further along without it causing stress for your dog. Continue this slow process until you actually leave the house and come right back in, leave the house and get into your car then come back, leave the house and start the car and come in, then back down the driveway and come back, etc. If your dog gets stressed at any point, go back to just prior to that point and start the process again. You can use to scent or a sound to distinguish these departures from normal departures. I prefer a sound, especially calming music, as it can be played while you are gone and becomes a relaxation cue.
3) Always make sure to be as unemotional as possible when returning home -
After a long day at work, we can't wait to get home and see our beloved pets. Unfortunately, when we make a big deal about greeting our pets when we come home it can actually worsen the Separation Anxiety. Anything that heightens emotions can heighten anxiety. Make sure that you do not greet your pet when you come home, you can let them outside for a potty break, but otherwise try not to interact with them until they are relaxed and quiet. Once they are relaxed, quietly give them attention. As a general rule, you always want to reward relaxed and calm behavior, not high levels of emotion, even positive emotion.This doesn't mean you can't have fun with your dog, just make coming home a non-event to help decrease the anxiety while you are gone.
4) Make sure that your dog is physically comfortable and provide abundant enrichment and exercise - Giving your pets sufficient exercise to tire them out and abundant activities to keep them busy, can help them be ready to rest when you leave. Good options for enrichment are games and puzzle toys. You can use your dog's meal as training and game time. We are so used to feeding our dogs in a bowl that we don't think to use their kibble as "training treats" or for a game. Treat balls, that need to be rolled to dispense the kibble, are a great way to feed meals that keep our dogs active and mentally stimulated. There are many other food puzzles that are fun and of differing levels of difficulty. The "Find It" game can also be a lot of fun for both cats and dogs. You teach your pet to stay, or leave them in another room, then you hide their food around the house and they need to go find it. This is a lot of fun for both animals and people. Just remember where you hid the food if they don't find it!
If you have any questions about Behavior or your animal's health, please know that we are still here to serve you during these difficult times. Please feel free to call the clinic at 231-652-1681. Stay safe and enjoy this time with your beloved pets!
“Anesthesia-Free” has a nice ring to it, right? Unfortunately, it isn’t as nice as it sounds. In order to benefit the patient, a dental cleaning must accomplish a level of cleaning not possible without anesthesia. So, what must a cleaning entail? Not only should you remove the calculus and plaque visible to the naked eye, but you must remove the tartar and bacteria beneath the gumline. It’s the tartar and plaque here that actually cause periodontal disease, and lead to further infection, tooth loss, and bone loss. When you only remove the tartar and plaque above the gum, you only make it look pretty for a little bit, but don’t provide any lasting benefit to the patient.
Beyond cleaning, a complete dental procedure should involve x-rays of each tooth and its root, as well as full inspection of each tooth (all 42 of them if you’re a dog, and 30 if you’re a cat!) to evaluate for pockets of bone loss, disease, fractures, or tooth defects. This is also not possible with even the most patient, tolerant dog or cat fully awake, not to mention it would be scary for the patient!
Since we need the anesthesia to perform an adequate dental procedure, we also need to make it as safe as possible. Anesthesia performed appropriately by well trained professionals carries minimal risk to the patient. At Newaygo Veterinary Services, each medication protocol is tailored to the individual patient. Bloodwork prior to anesthesia alerts our anesthesia team to any disease the dog or cat may be dealing with that may interfere with the anesthesia. Intravenous fluids support the patient’s blood pressure and allows for instant access should any interventions needs to be made. Continuous monitoring of vitals during the procedure, as well as rigorous monitoring before and after the procedure alerts our team to any complications the dog or cat may be experiencing.
In short, not only is anesthesia absolutely required for a proper dental cleaning, but is quite safe when done appropriately.
When we talk about dental health one of the most common questions that pet owners ask is, "What products should I use to help with my pets' dental health?" As a veterinary profession we want to make sure we are giving recommendations on products that have been proven effective. With that being said, we feel confident in recommending any product that has the VOHC seal on it.
VOHC stands for Veterinary Oral Health Council. The Veterinary Oral Health Council was made to review the data from trials conducted on products according to VOHC protocols, and those products are then awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance. Any product that has the VOHC seal has met the Veterinary Oral Health Council's standards for effectiveness in controlling plaque and/or tartar when used as directed.
*Plaque is the soft, bacteria-rich layer that rapidly forms on the surface of the teeth as a result of poor dental hygiene. The bacteria in mature plaque are the cause of gingival inflammation that starts the periodontal disease process.
*Tartar is the calcium salts secreted in saliva that are deposited on the surface of the teeth as a hard substance (calculus or tartar) that is resistant to removal by chewing or brushing. Tartar provides a rough surface that enhances development of plaque, and is an exacerbating factor in development of periodontal disease.
Below is a list of products that have met the VOHC standards for effectiveness.
Accepted Products for Dogs:
Accepted Products for Cats:
I brush and floss twice a day, but what about my dog’s and cat’s teeth?
There are many ways that you can help care for your pets’ dental needs at home.
The first and most effective option is brushing your pets’ teeth. This is much easier than it sounds! To start, you will need a pet friendly toothpaste; enzymatic toothpaste is the best product to brush pets’ teeth with. It differs from human toothpaste because the enzymes break the tartar down for you, rather than contact time required when humans brush their teeth. Get your pet used to the toothpaste by first giving a small portion as a treat, then work on applying it to the outer surfaces of the teeth. You can use your finger to get the toothpaste on their teeth, or there are other options such as a tooth brush, an exfoliating glove, or a finger toothbrush. Your veterinarian may guide you on where to focus your efforts, depending on your pets’ unique mouth.
Different foods can be helpful in cleaning your pets’ teeth. One of the highest quality foods for dental care is Hill’s T/D. Quality dental diets have differently formulated kibble that helps clean below the gumline and minimize plaque and tartar. This can work nicely with treats that are formulated to care for teeth. Dental treats such as Greenies, VeggieDent, HealthyMouth Treats, and DentaLife treats are all great options. These are usually given daily to help prevent tartar buildup.
Another convenient option is a cleansing wash that you can put into the water that acts like a mouthwash. Water additives can be one of the easiest things to do for your pet’s mouth, and can help improve breath.
Maintaining your pets’ teeth at home can help prevent more tartar building on their teeth. You can use as many of these options as you’d like to provide excellent oral health for your pet. The best thing to do is have your pet’s teeth cleaned 1-2 times per year, and then maintain them with any of the above methods: brushing, OraVet, food, treats, or rinses. See our post next week about how to select effective products for your pet’s mouth!
1. Your dog or cat is keeping secrets! Dogs and cats often do not show outward signs of pain or illness. With a physical exam we can detect underlying problems and also verify that systems are healthy!
2. Your veterinarian will learn what is normal for each individual pet, which helps us to recognize subtle changes and address them early.
3. New studies come out all of the time about pet health and your veterinarian is the best source for accurate information. Ever wonder about grain-free diets? How about the best time to spay or neuter your pet? We have the latest information to help you decide!
4. Preventing a problem is WAY easier and less costly than fixing one. We can help make sure your pet is protected against vaccine preventable disease and parasites. We can also help you choose the best food and create a healthy weight plan for your pet to help prevent problems such as diabetes and osteoarthritis.
5. We care about your pet! We want them to live a long, healthy and happy life just as much as you do. We take every effort to thoroughly collect information, review your pet's history for patterns and communicate any information you need to make the best decisions for your furry loved-one!
Click here to make an appointment for your dog or cats physical today!
Fellow pet lover, with a DVM.
9022 S Mason Drive
Newaygo, MI 49337
Monday-Friday: 7am to 5pm
Two Saturdays a month: 8am to 1pm