Category Archives: feline 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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Thyroid Problems in Dogs and Cats

thyroid rekre89By Langley Cornwell

As a responsible pet owner, there are many health issues dogs and cats may experience that you should be aware of. In fact, being a pet owner often means learning about things you had no idea even existed. Each species has specific health conditions that affect them, and then there are several that can afflict both cats and dogs. One of these conditions is thyroid problems.

Both dogs and cats can have problems with their thyroid gland. The thyroid gland produces the hormone that controls metabolism. Cats tend to have hyperthyroidism (too much hormone) while dogs often suffer from hypothyroidism (too little hormone).

How to Know if Your Pet Has a Thyroid Problem

If you notice your dog or cat is acting either extra sluggish or extremely active—as compared to their normal behavior — or is gaining or losing weight, you will want to call your vet and discuss this. It’s important, because if left untreated, thyroid issues may have a detrimental effect on your pet’s quality of life. The symptoms of thyroid problems, if left untreated, can lead to other conditions and can even eventually be fatal.

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7 Tips on Caring for Senior Cats

Senior Cat MickeyBy Julia Williams

One of my cats is 16 now, and the other two are 12. As such, I have been researching the topic of senior cat care quite a bit in recent years. I love my cats like family, and I want to do everything in my power to keep them healthy and happy for many more years. Though there may be some things outside of my control, there are steps I can take now and in the future that will positively impact the longevity of my beloved fur babies. I’ll cover some of them briefly in this post.

When Does a Cat Reach “Senior” Age?

The funny thing about this question is that the answer depends upon who you ask. Some cat experts put the senior age as low at 7, while others say it’s more like 10 or 11. There is no “absolute” age that classifies a cat as senior. This is due in part because, like humans, some cats age faster than others. If your cat is 10 years or older – about the equivalent of a 56-60 year old human – you can safely assume they are a senior.

Vet Checkups

As a cat ages, health issues are bound to arise. The best way to help ensure longevity is to catch problems as early as possible. Early detection of age-related conditions and illnesses will enable you and your veterinarian treat them more successfully. Many health issues can be delayed and/or managed provided they are caught in the beginning stages. Since cats are quite good at hiding illness and may not appear unwell to you even when there is an underlying issue, a wellness check every six months is recommended. For a senior cat, six months is about the same as you seeing your doctor every two years, which is certainly long enough for health changes to occur.

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Can Laundry Pods Harm Your Pet?

pods shelleyBy Linda Cole

Today’s technology allows for new advances in many areas of our lives. Manufacturers often develop innovative products that make everyday tasks easier and more efficient for us. As responsible pet owners, we have to be aware of changes in cleaning products to make sure they are safe for use around our animals.

Laundry pods are small, single-use detergent packets in round or rectangle shapes. Shortly after pods hit the market, warnings were issued to keep them away from young children because the pods looked like candy and kids were putting them in their mouth. Since 2012, poison control centers have received thousands of pod-related reports regarding young children. But what about our pets? Do laundry pods pose a danger to our furry friends as well? Yes, they can. In 2013, detergent pods were on the ASPCA’s top ten toxin list.

Most pet owners know that certain household cleaners can be toxic to their dog or cat and take precautions to store these items where their pet can’t find them. Landry detergents, however, are more often stored in a convenient, unsecured place by the washer, or in a laundry basket or bag if you have to go to a laundromat. This makes it easier for pets to find them.

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Why It’s Important to Eradicate Fleas on Your Pets

fleas colinBy Laurie Darroch

Fleas are more than just an annoyance for our dogs and cats. They can cause health problems that go beyond mere itching and bites. They can also spread to everyone else in the house. These insects may be tiny, but they can cause a world of discomfort.

What is a Flea?

A flea is a parasite that sucks blood from its victims. Their bodies are made for jumping and running, so they move easily from animal to animal, including the human members of the household. They can populate quickly if left unchecked. The female feeds on the blood of the dog or cat and then leaves droppings that are a source of nutrition for the larvae they produce. If you see specks that look like dirt on the skin or in the fur of your dog or cat, you are looking at a food source for the female flea’s offspring.


You can wait to see if your dog gets fleas, but sometimes a proactive treatment to prevent them is a better option, particularly if you live in a region that is prone to the growth of flea populations. They are drawn to warmth and humidity, and they like low altitudes. Check with your vet or pet store to get an appropriate medication to help prevent the fleas from getting a hold to populate on your pet’s skin.

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How Weather Plays a Role in Tick Outbreaks

ticks Katie BradyBy Linda Cole

Just the mention of ticks causes a tingling on the back of your neck. An afternoon hike in the woods can end with a thorough search through your dog’s coat and your hair to make sure none of those bloodsuckers hitched a ride. Some years are worse than others, and weather plays a big role in how bad a tick outbreak might be and when tick season begins.

Ticks are found everywhere in the United States, and which species you encounter depends on where you live. There are four stages in the life cycle of ticks: egg, larvae (smaller than a period), nymph (size of a pinhead), and adult. It takes two years for them to develop into adults, and except for the egg stage, each stage requires a blood meal before it can molt into the next one. Females can lay around 3,000 eggs.

Ticks do not die off during the winter months. To survive the cold and snow, most ticks find shelter in leaf litter and are dormant until spring. However, adult deer ticks (black-legged ticks) remain active year round. You or your pet could pick up a hitchhiker anytime the air temperature is close to freezing or above and the ground isn’t frozen or snow covered. In freezing weather, deer ticks hunker down under the snow in leaf litter, on firewood or a tree trunk, and come out during warm spells. If you find a tick inside during the winter, it probably hitched a ride on firewood.

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