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- How often should I take my pet to the vet?
- This is one of the most common dog health questions that come up. After all, you don’t want to appear like a hypochondriac parent nor do you want to be a slack one who’s dismissed important signs as just a tummy ache that will go away!
In general, you know your pet best and if your gut feel tells you something is amiss, it's best to play on the safe side and go in for a vet check up. That way, you will sleep easier knowing full well that your dog’s health isn’t compromised.
- Are dental problems the same in pets and people?
- No. In man the most common problem is tooth decay which, due to the loss of calcium from the enamel, results in painful, infected cavities. In the dog tooth decay represents less than 10% of all dental problems. The most common dental problems seen in dogs are caused by periodontal disease, also known as recession of the gum-line, which exposes painful nerves and tooth roots.
- Can I use human toothpaste?
- Human dentifrice or toothpaste should not be used in dogs. These are foaming products and are not meant to be swallowed. Additionally, many types of human toothpaste contain sodium, which may cause problems in some pets. Dog and cat toothpaste however, should be available at your regular veterinary clinic.
- Can tartar be prevented?
- Plaque becomes mineralized in some dogs much quicker than in others. Special canine and feline chew toys as well as feeding specifically-formulated dental diets may help reduce tartar build up, as does regular home care such as tooth brushing. Today there are many products designed to reduce tartar in our pets.
- Do I have to make an appointment for my dog to have a dental scaling and polishing?
- Yes. Your veterinarian will recommend pre-anesthetic blood tests, examine your pet for any other underlying disorders prior to the procedure, and determine if antibiotic treatment should be started in advance.
- How can I prevent tartar accumulation after the procedure?
- Plaque and tartar begin forming in as little as six hours after your pet’s dental cleaning. A home dental care program is a must for all pets. Your veterinarian will provide you with detailed instructions on how to brush or rinse your pet’s teeth.
- I was unaware that dogs have dental problems. Is it common?
- Dental disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats. Over 68% of all pets over the age of three have some form of periodontal or dental disease. Most pets will show few signs of dental disease. It is up to the pet’s family and veterinarian to uncover this hidden and often painful condition. Of course, prophylactic dental cleanings are always the best way to stay ahead of the game.
- Is periodontal disease very common?
- It is estimated that over 68% of dogs over three years old suffer from some degree of periodontitis, making it by far the most common canine disease.
- What are the symptoms of periodontal disease?
- 1. Red Inflamed gums
2. "Stinky breath"
3. Pawing at the mouth or drooling
4. Hard yellow calculi build up on teeth
5. Facial sensitivity
6. Tooth loss or bleeding gums
7. Poor appetite or unwillingness to eat
If your pet has any of these symptoms arrange an appointment with your vet as quickly as possible to initiate dental care. If serious dental disease is present, your veterinarian may have to extract the decayed teeth. However, it is simply amazing to see how well pets adjust with healthier gums, if this becomes necessary.
- What is involved with a dental cleaning for my pet?
- The goal of dental scaling and polishing is to remove the tartar and invisible plaque. Your veterinarian will recommend pre-anesthetic blood tests to ensure that kidney and liver function are satisfactory for anesthesia. Sometimes antibiotic treatment is instituted before a full dental prophylaxis is carried out. Your veterinarian will discuss the specific pre-dental recommendations for your pet.
Tooth scaling will be performed using both hand scalers and ultrasonic cleaning equipment to remove tartar both above and below the gum line. The tartar beneath the gum line causes the most significant gum recession. The teeth are then polished in order to help prevent subsequent plaque build-up. It may be necessary to carry out other procedures such as extractions at the same time. Special applications such as fluoride, antibiotic preparations and cleaning compounds may be indicated to decrease tooth sensitivity, strengthen enamel and reduce plaque accumulation and bacterial infection.
These procedures will be fully discussed both before your pet’s dental cleaning and when you bring your pet in for the procedure. Since it can be difficult to predict the extent of dental disease in advance of the procedure, it is imperative that your veterinarian is able to reach you during the procedure to discuss any additional treatment that may be necessary.
- What is periodontal disease?
- Periodontal disease is a term used to describe inflammation or infection of the tissues surrounding the tooth. Accumulation of tartar and calculus on the teeth contributes to gum recession around the base of the tooth. Infection soon follows and the gums recede, exposing sensitive unprotected tooth surfaces. Untreated infection then spreads into the tooth socket and ultimately the tooth loosens and is lost.
- What is tartar?
- The mouth of all mammals is home to thousands of bacteria. Many of these bacteria will breed on the surfaces of the tooth and form an invisible layer called plaque or biofilm. Some of this is removed naturally by the dog’s tongue and chewing habits but if allowed to remain on the tooth surface, the plaque thickens, becomes mineralized and is then visible as tartar and ultimately calculus. The tartar presses on the gums, which recede, causing inflammation and infection called gingivitis. The gums continue to recede until ultimately the tooth socket is infected and the tooth is lost.
As the oral infection increases, tonsillitis and pharyngitis can also occur. In addition, the bacteria are absorbed into the blood stream and can be carried to other organs. Heart valve infections (endocardiosis or endocarditis), kidney and liver problems are frequently caused by “bad teeth”.
- How did canine influenza develop?
- Canine influenza appears to be related to an influenza strain that affects horses. At some point, the virus mutated and the new strain made the leap from horses to dogs.
- Is canine influenza a new disease?
- No, canine influenza was diagnosed initially in 2004. According to a September 26, 2005, CDC media briefing, the first evidence of canine influenza in companion dogs was documented in spring 2005 when shelters, boarding facilities, humane societies and veterinarians submitted samples from dogs suspected of carrying the disease.
- Parasite Profile
Hookworms are dangerous parasites that live in a dog's small intestine. With remarkable efficiency, hookworms "graze" on the lining of the intestine, leaving multiple bloody holes in their wake. These can lead to anemia and may even cause a small puppy to bleed to death. In humans, hookworms migrate through tissue close to the skin, causing painful, itchy rashes.
Hookworms can worm their way into unsuspecting dogs—and people—through a number of parasitic means. Their larvae can be accidentally ingested by a dog in contaminated environments such as backyards and dog parks. They can penetrate the skin of a dog that unknowingly steps through the dewy grass where hookworms hide.
People tend to become afflicted with hookworms by walking through contaminated areas with bare feet.
How can you tell if a dog is infected with hookworms? Only a veterinarian can tell for sure, but signs to look for may include weakness, weight loss, diarrhea, and pale gums.
In people, hookworm infection typically causes itchy red tracks to appear on the skin where the worms have been traveling just beneath the surface.
What To Do
A veterinarian can help deworm an infected dog. Deworming medication has to be administered to kill the hookworms and may need several rounds to work.
Human infection can be treated with medicine if it's detected early. If it's not detected early, serious medical complications can develop. Be sure to contact your physician or pediatrician, especially if it's a child that you believe is infected.
How To Avoid Hookworms
Treating and controlling hookworms in your dog is as easy as ensuring that the heartworm preventive you give your dog also treats and controls hookworms.
Maintaining clean environments, cleaning your yard of dog waste, and preventing dogs from eating fecal contaminated material will help provide added protection.
Three common hookworms are Ancylostoma caninum, Ancylostoma braziliense and Uncinaria stenocephala.
Is the most pathogenic hookworm and can cause anemia in infected dogs. Like other hookworms, it poses a zoonotic threat to humans and can cause creeping eruptions.
Is typically found in a host's small intestine and usually targets dogs, but can also infiltrate cats, foxes and can cause creeping eruptions in humans.
Is a species of hookworm that can infect dogs and can cause creeping eruptions in humans who contract it.
- Parasite Profile
Roundworms may resemble earthworms, but they're a whole lot more dangerous, especially when they get inside a dog, or a person. The roundworm is a patient, persistent parasite that can lay up to 100,000 EGGS IN A SINGLE DAY.3 Once an egg is accidentally ingested by a dog, the roundworm hatches and makes its way through the body to an ideal feeding ground, the intestine.
Most puppies are infected with roundworms transmitted from their mothers prior to or just after birth and through nursing. Dogs and puppies can also be infected with roundworms by consuming infected animals or eggs in the environment.
It has been estimated that 14% of the people in the US are infected with roundworm larvae.4
Roundworms can be transmitted to people through hand-to-mouth contact with contaminated soil, sand, plants and objects such as toys and sporting equipment. Children are especially vulnerable to this type of exposure.
Roundworms live in the intestines of infected animals, depriving them of nutrients. A heavy infestation of roundworms can block the intestinal tract. Signs of roundworm infection in dogs include weight loss, diarrhea, vomiting, malnutrition and weakness. Infected puppies may have swollen abdomens, the "pot-bellied pup" look that only sounds cute, and is anything but. Roundworms may also be visible in the pet's feces.
In people, roundworm infections can have serious and unexpected consequences. Depending on the organs to which the worms migrate, these can be serious, ranging from stomachache to pneumonia and even blindness.
Deworming a pet will get rid of roundworms. The deworming medicine essentially tranquilizes the worms so that they lose their grip and pass through the body. The worms can grow up to 7", so deworming isn't pretty, but it is effective. It can take multiple rounds of deworming to completely rid a dog of the roundworms' different life stages.
In humans, treatment usually involves medication, although in serious cases, surgery might be required.
Most heartworm preventives also kill roundworms. Be sure to ask your veterinarian for a broad-spectrum product which treats and controls multiple species of roundworms and hookworms.
People should take a conscientious approach to roundworm prevention through frequent hand washing and keeping yards and homes free of animal feces.
- Parasite Profile
As though fleas weren't bad enough themselves, they are also the primary carrier for another type of parasite: the tapeworm. Tapeworms are fairly innocuous; they are not nearly as dangerous, for example, as heartworms, hookworms or roundworms. Though they can be transmitted by other means, tapeworms primarily enter a dog directly through the ingestion of a flea, which serves as a parasitic Trojan Horse.
Given their attractiveness to fleas, dogs are primary targets of tapeworms. An infection starts when a flea larva consumes a tapeworm egg, usually in an infected dog's bedding. (You'll find out why in a minute.) The flea larva matures into a flea with the tapeworm larvae inside. The dog then ingests the flea during the course of grooming. Once the ingested flea is digested, the tapeworm is free to hatch and attach within the dog.
Tapeworms, which can reach up to 13-27 inches in length, grow in segments. The end segments, which contain new eggs, break off as the worm grows, and pass out through the rectum of the dog (which is why they are sometimes found in bedding). Tapeworm eggs are sometimes visible in an infected animal's feces, bedding or in the matted hair around the anus.
A veterinarian can provide a dewormer. Some veterinarians recommend two deworming sessions based on the assumption that clearing the flea problem that caused the tapeworm issue may take some time.
To help prevent tapeworms, be sure to use a flea preventive that kills adult fleas, flea eggs and especially flea larvae.
- Parasite Profile
Whipworms get their name from their thin, whip-like shape. As far as health risks go, they are not generally considered to be in the same league as heartworms, hookworms and roundworms. Heartworms, hookworms, and roundworms can cause serious harm and even death in dogs, and in the case of hookworms and roundworms, may be passed on to humans. Whipworms are a less destructive nuisance.
Like roundworms, whipworm eggs live in the soil and infiltrate a host through accidental consumption. Unlike roundworms, which can lay hundreds of thousands of eggs,3 whipworms don't lay many eggs, although the few they do produce can survive in the soil for long periods of time. Dogs, particularly outdoor dogs, are vulnerable to whipworms.
In general, canine whipworms are not considered a threat to humans.
A medication called fenbendazole is usually used to take care of whipworms.
No FAQ found.
- Heartworms in a nutshell
- Parasite Profile:
Heartworms are among the most dangerous parasitic worms that infect dogs. Hundreds of thousands of cases of canine heartworm disease are reported in the US every year.1 The disease is passed from infected dogs to other dogs by mosquitoes. That means all of these dogs are at risk for heartworm disease.
The disease is spread when a mosquito, previously infected by biting an infected ("reservoir") dog, bites a dog and deposits tiny immature heartworms, called larvae, near the bite wound. Then, the larvae enter the wound and migrate beneath the skin, eventually reaching the heart and lungs. These unwelcome intruders can grow up to 12 inches in length. Heartworm disease is debilitating, and may even prove fatal.
All dogs are potential targets for heartworm disease. In fact, canine heartworm disease has been detected in all 50 states.2
An infected dog may cough or wheeze occasionally, and may seem unusually tired and unwilling to play, but these early signs of heartworm disease can easily be missed, and may be mistaken for something else. The only way to tell if your dog has been infected is to have a veterinarian administer a heartworm test.
Treatment for heartworm disease is difficult, expensive, lengthy and may be traumatic to dog and owner. Dogs receive a series of arsenic-based shots to kill the worms and must spend up to 6-8 weeks in an environment that will not tax the dog's heart and lungs any further. This may call for crating the animal to limit activity and prevent overexertion.
A number of effective heartworm preventives have been developed to combat heartworm disease. It is important to consult with your veterinarian about the heartworm preventive that is appropriate for your dog. Before making a decision, be sure to understand that other parasites can threaten dogs and that some of them can even be transmitted to people.
For continuous protection, it's imperative that you give your dog the preventive dose monthly as directed. A single lapse in compliance could give mosquito-borne heartworm larvae the small window of exposure they need to infect your dog.
For more information, ask your veterinarian.
QUESTIONS FOR YOUR VETERINARIAN
When you visit your veterinary clinic—just as when you visit your own physician—it is often helpful to write down any questions you may have for the doctor. Here are some questions about the basics of dog and puppy care:
* How often should I bring my dog to the clinic?
* How soon should I begin giving my dog a heartworm preventive?
* Will the recommended heartworm preventive also treat and control intestinal parasites?
* How often must I give my dog this preventive?
* Should I give my dog this preventive all year 'round?
* Is my puppy likely to take this preventive willingly?
Many veterinarians recommend an annual heartworm test to ensure that a dog hasn't been infected with heartworm larvae during possible lapses in prevention. While a negative result is good news, it may not be definitive because heartworm tests detect the presence of adult females. Depending on how many doses of heartworm preventive may have been missed during the year and when, a dog could actually be infected with immature larvae (or, more rarely, only male worms) that are not yet perceptible.