Category Archives: dental health

Tooth Resorption in Cats and Dogs

tooth resorption makiaBy Julia Williams

A few months ago I took my cat, Annabelle, in for a routine checkup. After a thorough exam, my vet told me that Annabelle had a painful condition called tooth resorption. This came as a complete surprise, as Annabelle had been acting her normal happy self, she was eating well and seemed to be in perfect health.

I hadn’t noticed any abnormal behavior, and Annabelle did not act like she was in any discomfort when she was scarfing her CANIDAE wet food or her treats. My vet explained that even though tooth resorption is known to be quite painful, in most cases our pets don’t show outward signs until it’s become extremely uncomfortable. This is a largely a survival instinct, since an animal in the wild who showed weakness would be vulnerable to a predator.

What is Tooth Resorption?

Although tooth resorption is similar in appearance to the cavities humans get in their teeth, there is a difference. Cavities are caused by bacterial decay which begins at the tooth’s hard outer surface (the enamel) and progresses toward the interior of the tooth. With tooth resorption, the damage begins inside the tooth with “resorptive lesions” which are caused by cells eating away at the tooth. A tooth that is affected by resorptive lesions will erode and eventually disappear entirely as it is absorbed back into the animal’s body. As a tooth disintegrates, the dentin (inner part of the tooth) and nerve are exposed, causing extreme sensitivity and a great deal of pain.tooth resorption rick

Tooth resorption occurs primarily in cats, but dogs can get it too, as can larger cats such as tigers, lions, cheetahs and leopards. Tooth resorption in domestic housecats is a common condition that affects as many as 50% of cats over three years old.

What Causes Tooth Resorption?

Some studies suggest that an excess of vitamin D in the diet may play a role in tooth resorption; other theories support that it’s an autoimmune response. However, at the present time there is no definitive answer as to what causes the resorptive lesions. What is known is that once an animal develops one resorptive lesion, it’s highly likely that other teeth will also be affected.

Is Tooth Resorption Preventable?

Unfortunately, until it’s understood what causes the resorptive lesions to occur, there is no way to prevent them. Pets that have resorptive lesions in one tooth often have them in other teeth.

How is Tooth Resorption Diagnosed?

Some things to watch for include excessive salivation, bleeding in the mouth and difficulty eating. (You might notice, for example, that your pet appears to only be chewing on one side of her mouth). As I mentioned earlier, however, some pets with tooth resorption may exhibit no outward signs; in this case, the condition will be discovered when your vet examines your pet’s mouth.

Some resorptive lesions can be seen, while others are hidden below the gum. If a lesion is suspected, your vet may use a probe such as a cotton swab. When the lesion is touched by the probe, it causes pain resulting in chattering and jaw spasms. tooth resorption danielleRadiographs (x-rays) are extremely helpful not only in making a definitive diagnosis, especially for the hidden resorptive lesions, but also for treatment planning.

How is Tooth Resorption Treated?

Tooth resorptions can be seen on radiographs in many different stages, depending upon how long the tooth has been affected and how fast it is resorbing. Unfortunately, there is no reliable treatment and extraction of the affected tooth (or teeth) is usually recommended. If the disease has significantly progressed and the resorbing tooth has already fused to the jawbone, the veterinary surgeon may recommend amputation of the tooth instead of extraction. Radiographs while under general anesthesia will help your vet determine which procedure is best.

Top photo by Makia Minich/Flickr
Middle photo by Rick Wasser/Flickr
Bottom photo by Danielle Kellogg/Flickr

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Causes of Bad Breath in Pets

By Linda Cole

It’s hard to resist doggy kisses when you get home from work, or a close-up meow from your kitty just before dawn when she’s ready for breakfast. If your pet has bad breath, though, it could indicate that they have a health issue you need to be concerned about.

Periodontal disease is by far the most common reason why a pet has bad breath. Plaque buildup can cause gingivitis, and if left untreated can turn into periodontal disease. It can cause pets to lose their teeth, develop gum disease, and can cause damage to the kidneys and heart.

Teething puppies will often have a fishy smelling breath. This is not the same thing as puppy breath, however. Teething pets will chew on anything they can find. A piece of food, string, wood or bits of a chewed up toy can get lodged in the mouth or between the teeth and cause an infection of the gums. Teething pups and kittens have a tendency to drool, which can lead to halitosis.

Sometimes a pup or older dog can have breath that smells like they’ve been eating feces, which is very possible, especially if there’s a cat litter box in the home and it’s accessible to the dog. Pets also groom themselves around their anal glands which can produce a fishy or dead smell in their mouth. Intestinal problems or worms can also cause bad breath. In older pets, a bad tooth that needs to be pulled, an obstruction stuck in the throat or mouth can cause an infection and produce an odor. Pawing at the mouth is a good indication something is bothering them.

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Six Ways to Keep Your Dog Smelling Fresh

By Linda Cole

Dogs don’t care what they smell like. If they can find something stinky to roll in outside, in their mind, it’s an interesting and rewarding experience. Hmm…it’s not so rewarding for us, however. Since I work from home and am with my dogs all the time, doggy odor is not a smell I notice, but I know it is noticeable to other people. There are some tricks you can do in between baths to help keep your dog smelling fresh and less offensive to people who might not appreciate your dog’s smell. You can have company over, and still enjoy your dog!

Feed a quality dog food like CANIDAE to help tackle doggie smell from the inside out. CANIDAE has Yucca Schidigera Extract in it, which helps reduce bad breath and foul smelling stools. To help keep your dog’s breath smelling fresh, CANIDAE Snap-Bits® and Snap-Biscuit® dog treats contain peppermint. Diet plays such an important role in our dog’s good health, and lesser quality foods can contribute to how a dog’s skin and coat feels and smells. A high quality pet food is more cost effective in the long run, because your dog doesn’t have to eat as much to get all the nutrients he needs, and he eats less.

Dog or baby wipes are quick and easy to use. Both are gentle on your dog’s skin and will help to deodorizer him. Avoid using the wipes around the eyes, however. I prefer using the wipes made for dogs, but in a pinch, the baby cleansers are a good alternative if you need to freshen up your pup’s smell. Both are also handy to keep in the car to clean up muddy feet before they can track up your backseat. Vinegar and water is another good deodorizer for dogs. Fill a spray bottle with about a third vinegar and the rest water. Shake it up and then mist on your dog. The vinegar won’t harm him and it will get rid of those doggie smells. Make sure you don’t spray the mixture in his eyes or ears. You can also spray the solution on his bedding in between washings to help keep it smelling fresh.

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Periodontal (Dental) Disease in Dogs and Cats

By Linda Cole

Like us, dogs and cats have a variety of diseases and conditions we need to be on the lookout for. The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS) says 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will show signs of periodontal disease by the time they turn three years old. Proper dental care is as important for our dogs and cats as it is for us. To bring awareness to the importance of dental care for pets, the AVDS has declared February as National Pet Dental Health Month. Periodontal disease is one of the most common for pets, and it can be a serious problem if left untreated.

What is periodontal disease?

It’s a buildup of tartar, also called calculus, and untreated gingivitis which causes damage to the ligaments and other tissue that holds the teeth in place. In the very early stages of the disease, cleaning the teeth and prevention will likely be enough to prevent more damage and save the teeth. By the time the disease has progressed to a moderate condition, however, permanent damage has already been done to the teeth. Periodontal disease isn’t always easy to see or diagnose, and even vets can miss it during regular checkups.

The word “periodontal” means the tissue (peri) around the tooth (dontal) that keeps the tooth in its socket. Periodontal disease can affect the ligaments and cementum (a layer of calcified tissue covering the root of a tooth) that hold the teeth in place, and if they are damaged by disease, then the tooth becomes loose and can fall out.

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Why It’s Important to Groom Your Pet

By Linda Cole

Grooming and playing are two great ways to bond with your pet. Grooming also gives you an opportunity to monitor your pet’s overall health and gain their trust. Sitting down regularly with your pet will leave them feeling good about themselves (even though they may complain the whole time) and it gives you time with your favorite furry friend.

Hair clipping will be included in your pet grooming routine if you have a long haired dog. Some dogs, like Siberian Huskies, have lots of hair between their paw pads. When the hair grows too long, ice and snow can collect on the hair and cut the dog’s pads. Tiny rocks can be held in between their pads by the long hair and can injure their feet. It can be harder for them to walk on slippery surfaces because they can’t get proper traction walking on the overgrown hair. Long haired dogs may also need to have the hair in and around their ears trimmed.

Combing or brushing is an essential part of pet grooming. It helps remove loose hair as well as dirt and debris along the skin and in their coat. Medium to long haired dogs and long haired cats can have tangled, matted hair that pulls on the pet’s skin and mats can be difficult to remove. Regular brushing can help keep their coats mat free. Brushing stimulates their skin, removes dirt along the skin and in their coat and gets rid of loose hair that won’t end up on the living room furniture or on an unsuspecting house guest. This is a good time, while your pet is relaxed, to run your hands over their body and check for any lumps, skin irritations or sores hidden under the coat. Use an appropriate comb or brush that won’t scratch their skin.

Trimming your pet’s toenails gives you a chance to inspect their feet to make sure there are no hidden cuts or foreign objects, like small rocks or burrs, caught in between the paw pads. Outside cats can come home with small injuries to their feet you may not notice right away. Both cats and dogs can get splinters in their pads or cuts that can become infected over time. Pet grooming should always include an inspection of their feet whether the toenails need trimmed or not, to catch any problems before they require a trip to the vet. If you aren’t comfortable with trimming your pet’s toenails, most vets are happy to do it for you. When trimming nails at home, be careful not to cut into the quick. Trim as far as you’re comfortable with and then finish up with a nail file to smooth the rough edges. For more detailed information on trimming the nails, see How to Give your Pooch a Pedicure.

Bathing isn’t a part of pet grooming that’s necessary every time, especially for cats. Cats seldom need us to give them a bath, but on those rare occasions when one is needed, try to make it as positive as you can. (Read How to Bathe a Cat and Live to Tell About It for step-by-step directions). Outside cats require more baths because they roll around in all kinds of “stuff” and can get oily debris in their hair. Dogs, on the other hand, do need baths now and then. This is another opportunity to inspect their body as you work the shampoo into their coat.

Dental care is one area of pet grooming that’s often neglected by pet owners. It’s easy to forget about the inside of the mouth; however, it’s important to check their teeth and gums regularly for signs of gingivitis or other dental problems before they become serious.

Ear inspection is something my pets would rather I skipped, but it’s important to include their ears during each pet grooming session. Dogs with floppy ears or long hair have a problem with adequate air flow and air doesn’t circulate in the ear canal as well as it does in dogs with erect ears. Humidity can actually build up in their ears keeping them moist inside. If your floppy-eared dog loves to swim, make sure to dry the inside of the ears after he gets out of the water. They can have more buildup of dirt and crud as well, and are more at risk for ear infections than dogs with erect ears. Regular inspection of your pet’s ears can catch an ear mite infestation or yeast infection in the early stages.

Regular pet grooming allows us, as responsible pet owners, the opportunity of a hands-on inspection of our pets as well as helping to keep them clean. It’s time well spent, and is as healthy for us as it is for our pets.

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

What Does Pet Dentistry Involve?

By Julia Williams

Earlier in the week, I mentioned that February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Although it’s not a “holiday” per se, it does serve to remind us that providing oral care is an important aspect of responsible pet ownership. We all want our beloved pets to be healthy and happy animals, and pet dentistry can help. I decided to write this article for those who aren’t familiar with pet dentistry and don’t know what to expect when taking a pet in for a teeth cleaning procedure. So, what does pet dentistry involve, and how much it will cost to have your cat or dog’s teeth cleaned by a skilled veterinary professional?

The price of a teeth cleaning for your pet will vary considerably, depending on such things like their age, your geographical area, the condition of your pet’s teeth, and what procedures are necessary. This is why vet offices rarely give quotes for pet teeth cleaning over the phone. Morever, teeth cleaning is considered a surgery since it requires anesthesia, so your pet will need to be examined prior to the procedure. You can discuss teeth cleaning with your vet during your pet’s annual checkup, or schedule a pre-surgery exam if you think your pet has a dental problem and needs treatment right away.

After the pre-surgery exam, your vet will provide you with a cost estimate for your pet’s teeth cleaning. The basic cost of pet dentistry (including the exam) will typically be about $200 to $300. If you have an older cat or dog, your vet will most likely recommend that blood work be done prior to your pet’s teeth cleaning. Although there is an additional fee for this (around $50 to $75), a health profile can help your vet determine if there are any issues which make the surgery and anesthesia riskier for your pet. Generally speaking, for healthy animals under eight years of age, the blood work is considered optional (but please follow your vet’s recommendation on this).

Although anesthesia is expensive and complications can occur, getting your pet’s teeth cleaned without it is not an option. Even the most docile dog or gentle cat can become agitated and aggressive when subjected to a thorough teeth cleaning, which puts both them and the technician in danger. The cost of the anesthesia will vary according to a pet’s weight, so teeth cleaning for cats and small dogs costs less than medium and large dogs. For older animals, your vet may also recommend putting in an IV catheter so they have a readily available “port” to administer fluids should that become necessary during your pet’s teeth cleaning surgery.

While your pet is under the anesthesia you may want to have other procedures done, such as nail trimming. Additionally, if any of your pet’s teeth are badly decayed or causing other problems for them, these can be extracted during the pet dental procedure. Your pet may be sent home with post-op pain medication, particularly if there were extractions. Your vet may also recommend having a sealant put on your pet’s teeth to help reduce tartar formation, and send you home with plaque prevention gel that you apply to your pet’s teeth on a regular basis. All of these extra items will, of course, add to the cost of your pet’s teeth cleaning; however, they may be necessary as well as helpful to your pet in the long run.

Most vet clinics ask that you drop your pet off for their teeth cleaning first thing in the morning, and pick them up late in the afternoon. Although dental procedures are usually done in the morning, your pet needs to stay at the clinic for most of the day to ensure that they recover from the anesthesia without complications. Most do not charge extra for this hospitalization, though.

You can help keep the cost of pet dental treatments down by doing some at-home care. Brush your pet’s teeth regularly, and apply the plaque prevention gel (if your vet recommends it). Like anything “new,” learning how to brush your pet’s teeth – and actually doing it – might seem intimidating at first. But if you ask your vet to show you how it’s done, take it slow, and be patient, most dogs will adjust to regular brushing. Cats generally put up more resistance to having their teeth brushed, and some will never really accept it. My advice is to keep trying, and be sure to use the specially formulated pet toothpaste.

Professional pet dental treatments, coupled with regular at-home oral care, can help you keep your dog or cat’s teeth (and their body) in good health. And, National Pet Dental Health Month is a perfect time to schedule your pet’s teeth cleaning appointment!

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.