Category Archives: Diseases

Healthy Teeth Make For Healthy Pets

Poor dental health is one of the most common ailments encountered in dogs and cats, yet we often don’t realize that a bit of bad breath can be more than just a smelly inconvenience. The American Veterinary Dental College estimates that by 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some evidence of dental health issues. So what exactly is dental disease in pets, and what can we do about it?

What is Dental Disease?

Disease of teeth in dogs
Most cases of dental disease in dogs and cats are caused by plaque and tartar.
Dental disease is a broad term referring to problems with the oral cavity. This includes issues with the teeth, gums, and bony structures of the mouth.

Most cases of dental disease in dogs and cats are caused by substances known as plaque and tartar. Plaque is a substance formed by a mixture of bacteria, saliva, and pieces of food. Over time, plaque can harden and become what is known as tartar. Both substances can lead to tooth issues, infections of the gums, and problems with the surrounding bone of the jaw. In some cases, bacteria from within the plaque and tartar can cause infections in other parts of the body, such as the heart and kidneys.

What are the Symptoms of Dental Disease?
Dental disease can often be subtle in its early stages. Signs such as excessive drooling, difficulty eating, and bad breath are common. Owners may also notice changes in the color of the teeth and gums. In more advanced cases, issues such as lethargy, oral pain, weight loss, and a lack of appetite often occur.

What can be done about Dental Disease?
A variety of steps can be taken to prevent or treat dental disease. Daily teeth brushing in dogs and cats is a great way to prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar; just be sure to use a toothpaste that has been formulated for pets. Specific dental diets, treats, and additives are also often useful to improve dental health.

In some cases, your veterinarian may recommend a full dental assessment under anesthesia. This gives us the opportunity to fully clean off any plaque and tartar while also allowing us to address any other issues that may be present in your pet’s mouth.

Don’t Forget About Our Other Furry (and feathery) Friends!
Although dogs and cats typically receive most of the attention when it comes to dental health, other species often have specific dental needs as well. Small rodents and rabbits often need their teeth trimmed, and horses frequently need their teeth leveled off. Many birds require beak trimmings to ensure appropriate oral health. Even pigs and alpacas occasionally require dental care!

Contact Us!
No two pets are exactly alike, and in most cases coming up with an approach to improve your furry friend’s dental health starts with a visit to your vet. At this visit, an individualized plan tailored to your pet’s dental needs, behavior, and lifestyle can be developed. We are here to help in any way we can!

Leptospirosis – What is it?

Leptospira testLeptospirosis or Lepto, is a bacterial disease that affects both humans and animals.  Without treatment, it can lead to kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress or even death.  Lepto is what we call a zoonotic disease.  It is one that can pass from pets to humans.

How is it spread?

The bacteria that cause Lepto are spread through the urine of infected animals.  The urine gets into the water or soil and can survive there from weeks to months.  Animals that are infected may continue to excrete the bacteria into the environment continuously for a few months to several years.  Humans are able to contract this through the urine or other body fluids of infected animals, or by coming in contact with water, soil, or food contaminated with urine.  The bacteria can enter through the skin or mucous membranes (eyes, nose, mouth), especially if there is a break in the skin.

Who are the carriers of Lepto?

Cattle, pigs, horses, dogs, rodents, and wild animals.

What are the signs and symptoms?

Fever, vomiting, abdominal pain, diarrhea, refusal to eat, severe weakness, depression, stiffness, severe muscle pain, and the inability to have puppies.  The younger the animals are the more severely they are affected.

The time between exposure and development of the disease is usually 5-14 days, but it can be as short as a few days or as long as 30 days or more.

Prevention in Pets

Keep rodents, mice, or other animal pests under control. 

VACCINATE, VACCINATE, VACCINATE!  Even though there are several strains of the Lepto disease, and vaccinations are not 100% protection, they are your first line of defense.  A vaccinated pet has a better chance of survival than an unvaccinated one.

Treatment for Pets

Lepto is treatable with antibiotics.  If diagnosed and treated early your pet may recover more rapidly and any organ damage may not be as severe.  Other treatment methods may include dialysis and hydration therapy.  Dialysis, of course, would be for the more severe case.

Lastly, Leptospirosis in dogs is an extremely severe disease and can be very difficult to treat and can have a high level of suffering plus a high probability of death. That is why vaccinating, along with early diagnosis, is so very important for your cherished family member.

For more information, please visit, or call us at 717.532.5413.