Your pet's oral health is about more than fresh breath! Advanced dental disease can cause illness elsewhere in the body as bacteria enters the bloodstream through inflamed gums. This can cause infection in the kidneys, liver - even the heart!
Dental disease is also painful. As tartar builds up, the gums become red and irritated. Tartar buildup creeps below the gumline, eventually eating away at the structures that secure the teeth. A loose tooth is a painful tooth!
What is a "dental" exactly?
A dental prophylaxis (or dental cleaning) is the only way to thoroughly remove tartar buildup from all of your pet's teeth and allow for a "clean slate" to provide at-home oral care & maintenance (and hopefully prevent the need for future anesthetic procedures).
For your pet's safety and to ensure a thorough cleaning, this procedure must be performed under general anesthesia. Precautions are taken to optimize safety, such as pre-anesthetic bloodwork, EKG & radiographs of the chest to detect abnormalities that may affect your pet's ability to handle anesthesia. All pets are monitored both manually and with electronic biometric equipment throughout anesthesia.
Once under sedation, we use an ultrasonic cleaner to remove all traces of tartar that has accumulated on the surfaces of the teeth, as well as the calculus that we cannot see below the gumline.
We use a special probing instrument to measure the gingival depth surrounding each tooth. This helps us locate pockets of bone loss that may identify a diseased tooth that otherwise appears healthy to the naked eye.
In addition to physical measurement, we use dental radiography to locate signs of disease.
Look at tooth #105 in this photo. To view it from the outside, it looks perfectly normal - but the dark shadows around the root in the dental x-ray reveal bone loss all around. This is a diseased tooth that will cause pain and discomfort very soon if not extracted.
We ask for pre-authorization for extractions when you drop your pet off for his procedure. Our goal is to minimize anesthetic time, and don't want to extend it if we're unable to reach you by phone.
Know that we only perform extractions if absolutely necessary (i.e. the tooth is or will soon be causing pain to your pet). The veterinarian will use local anesthetic injections prior to extracting diseased teeth, and post-operative laser therapy is performed afterwards to minimize inflammation and jump-start the healing process.
Can't I just brush my pet's teeth?
YES, we strongly encourage everyone to include daily toothbrushing in their pet's routine. However, brushing alone is not enough to remove tartar that has already hardened on the teeth. It's as tough as cement, and adheres so strongly to the surface of the tooth that it must be removed manually with an ultrasonic cleaner.
After we've removed all the calculus, we polish your pet's teeth with a fluoride toothpaste (using a prophy cup just like at your dentist). This smooths out any microscopic scratches from the cleaning and provides a clean surface for you to start at-home oral maintenance.
How much does it cost?
Because every case is unique, we will provide a written treatment plan with an estimated range at the time of recommendation. The size of your pet and the severity of dental disease are the primary reasons for variation.
February is National Dental Health Month - check out our special offers here!
Your cat has questions. We have answers. Read this post to find out if catnip is legal in PA and what that demonic machine that "cleans the carpet" is really for.
A microchip is not a guarantee that your lost pet will return home, but it significantly increases the chances of reuniting with your companion. Even if your pet doesn't run away, unexpected disasters can occur that may leave you separated.
Hurricane Katrina taught us a lot about the importance of permanent identification: the Louisiana SCPA reported that of the 15,000 rescued pets (not including the tens of thousands unaccounted for), only 15-20% made it back to their families.
The absolute best thing you can do to increase your pet's chances of returning home is have a collar with tags that display your cell phone number and home address. However, collars can be lost or removed, so we recommend a microchip as another means of identification.
Microchip Questions & Concerns
I'd like my pet to be microchipped. What's next?
We use HomeAgain microchips at Allegheny North Veterinary Hospital. Lifetime registration is included in the cost of the microchip, so your pet's ID number will always be available in the searchable database.
HomeAgain also offers additional membership benefits as an option, including 24/7 access to Lost Pet Recovery Specialists and $500 Travel Assistance to have your pet flown home if found over 500 miles away.
Microchipped dogs in Pennsylvania are eligible for a Lifetime Dog License. This saves you time and money, because it eliminates the need to pay an annual license fee to the treasurer. You'll need the lifetime license application form, as well as a Permanent Identification Verification Form (we must provide you with this at the office). These get sent with your payment to your county's treasurer.
From the Allegheny County Treasurer:
The fee for a Pennsylvania Lifetime Dog License is $51.50 for a non-neutered male or non-spayed female; $31.50 for a neutered male or spayed female. Senior citizens can purchase the lifetime licenses for $31.50 for a non-neutered male or non-spayed female; $21.50 for a neutered male or spayed female, respectively.
There aren't any pets in the White House now, but that hasn't been the norm throughout American history.
Trump is the first US President in nearly 170 years without any four-legged or feathered companions for Americans to adore!
The only other petless Commanders in Chief was the 11th President: James Polk, who served from 1845 - 1849.
Calvin Coolidge & Teddy Roosevelt had the most pets - the White House lawn was more like a zoo!
Since it's President's Day, we've gathered some interesting facts about presidential pets for you about the most off-the-wall animals that have lived on the grounds and the most interesting pet names (we've had some creative presidents with a good sense of humor!)
Most Original Names
There you have it. Now you can say, "Did you know...?" at the dinner table, and maybe score some points at couch Jeopardy!
Click here for the full list of Presidential Pets!
Though there are some similarities in symptoms, there is no conclusive evidence that dogs can catch the flu from humans, or vice versa.
Canine influenza virus (CIV) is most commonly spread in "high-traffic" dog areas, like boarding kennels, doggie daycares, dog parks, and animal shelters. Some local facilities are starting to require dogs to be vaccinated for CIV, but even if it's not a requirement - it's still a good idea to strongly consider the extra protection of immunization.
4 Things You Should Know About Canine Influenza
1. There is a vaccine available.
There are two strains of CIV: H3N8 (identified in 2004) and H3N2 (identified in 2015). Previously, only an H3N8 vaccine was available. We now carry a new combination vaccine with one that provides protection against both H3N8 and H3N2.
Since H3N2 was not included in the original canine influenza vaccine, all dogs starting the combo vaccine (even if they already had the H3N8-only vaccine) will require an initial series of two injections 4 weeks apart; it is then boostered annually to maintain protection.
2. Canine Influenza is highly contagious.
The virus is spread through respiratory secretions (nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing), and can survive on surfaces for up to 48 hours.
Be sure to thoroughly wash bowls, toys, and your hands! Though you cannot get your dog's flu, you can pass the virus along to other dogs after handling an infected dog.
3. Canine Influenza is a year-round problem.
Unlike the human flu, there is no "dog flu season" to worry about. Instead, the virus tends to spark up with isolated outbreaks throughout the year. Unfortunately, these outbreaks often occur in kennels and shelters. When dogs exposed to the virus leave the facility, they can spread the infection elsewhere.
4. If your dog is showing signs of an upper respiratory illness, schedule a visit with the vet.
There is no cure for the canine influenza virus, but your dog may need supportive care to combat dehydration and secondary bacterial infections.
Pain management is a major part of our duty to the pets that come through our doors, and we are always on the lookout to find the latest research and therapies available to keep our patients comfortable and healthy.
As part of our mission to provide the best medical care to your pets, our veterinarians regularly attend lectures to stay current with the most current developments in veterinary medicine. One of these recent lectures addressed the efficacy of Tramadol (an opioid often used to treat pain) in dogs.
Here's what we've learned:
In light of this new information, the veterinarians at Allegheny North Veterinary Hospital are recommending a different medication for patients that need long-term pain management for chronic conditions:
If your pet is currently on Tramadol for chronic pain, please contact us to discuss changing to Amantadine.
3. Offer an Alternative
Cats are attracted to trees - it's in their nature to want to climb and observe their surroundings from up high! Ask Santa if he might bring your kitty a early gift: A CAT TREE! There are some very reasonably priced cat trees online, with options to fit any style and budget.
Be sure to reward your cat with praise for choosing her kitty condo over the forbidden Christmas tree!
Other Important Safety Tips
Vaccine reactions are uncommon, but can be very serious, and in some cases, life-threatening. Know what's normal, and when to be concerned about your pet following a vaccination. Of course, if you're ever concerned about your pet's health, we encourage you to call us! Better to be safe than sorry. :)
Is your pet microchipped? Great! This permanent ID has proven time and time again to be an effective backup for lost collars and tags. But it doesn't stop at just having a microchip implanted!
The #1 reason for microchipped pets NOT reuniting with their owners is that the contact information in the database is incomplete or incorrect.
August 15 is "Check the Chip" Day, so take a few minutes to log in and make sure the info linked to your pet's microchip is up-to-date.
Not sure where to go? Visit www.petmicrochiplookup.org and enter your pet's microchip number to find out where the chip is registered. If you're having trouble finding your pet's microchip number, call us - we can help!
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