Posts Tagged ‘dog’
Here at Goddard Vet Group, we see a lot of dental problems in both cats and dogs, and in fact dental disease is one of the most commonly diagnosed diseases throughout the UK. But is there any way to prevent this horrible disease? And how can we help your pets?
Dental Diseases in Pets
Dogs can have a variety of dental problems throughout their lives. When they’re young, problems with the deciduous (‘baby’) teeth can mean they’re left with too many teeth in their mouths. This leads to food becoming stuck and causing gum disease. Some dogs are mad chewers – they’ll break teeth or wear them down, which is not only painful but may result in a tooth root abscess. Most commonly, though, dogs suffer from periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease affects dogs of all ages, although it’s more common in older dogs as it takes a while to occur. It’s also more common in some breeds – generally the smaller breeds. Bacteria in the mouth live on the teeth and gums in the form of plaque, and over time they eat away at the gum and get down beneath the gumline. Here, they start to affect the periodontal ligament, which is the connection between the teeth and the jawbone. When this ligament is damaged the teeth become wobbly, which inevitably results in tooth loss.
Cats also get periodontal disease, but they’re also prone to resorptive diseases. This is where the body, for a currently unknown reason, breaks down and re-absorbs the tooth root, resulting in a painful tooth very prone to breaking.
How Can I Prevent Dental Disease at Home?
Whilst resorptive lesions are hard to prevent, some simple changes to lifestyle can make a big difference to the other diseases. Since worn and fractured teeth are a result of dogs chewing on abrasive or hard materials, talk to one of our nurses about appropriate chews that are less likely to cause dental problems. Baby teeth that fail to fall out should be removed under general anaesthetic. They’re often still firmly attached and great care needs to be taken not to damage the root of the nearby adult teeth. This can often be done at neutering or as a separate procedure.
Brushing the teeth is the single most useful thing you can do to prevent periodontal disease. Toothbrushing removes plaque before it has a chance to harden into tartar and cause gum disease. It’s also a great excuse to check your pet’s teeth daily (yes- daily!) for any problems. We always recommend trying to introduce tooth brushing to pets as soon as possible, and to start slow and build up – just like with anything new. Don’t forget, never use human toothpaste (it’s not good for our pets!). Our nurses are fantastic at giving you top tips for tooth brushing, so if you think you can make time in your day to brush your pet’s teeth, please give them a call or book in for a free dental check to go over it.
Dental Dog Chews
Some dental chews have been shown to reduce the level of plaque in the mouth. However, there are a lot of brands out there that may not have the same benefits. We recommend choosing from the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s list of approved products, or talking to our nurses. Don’t forget that these chews contain extra calories which should be accounted for in your pet’s daily allowance to avoid obesity.
Can Water and Food Additives Help?
Water and food additives to prevent plaque build-up do exist and some even have evidence that they help. Whilst they’re not going to be as good as tooth brushing, they’re a good added extra, especially in pets that won’t allow anything else. Again, the VOHC have a list of accepted products, so choose from this list or discuss with one of our nurses at your next dental check.
Diets for Dental Disease
For those animals very prone to dental disease, specific diets have been created to reduce plaque and tartar through a combination of ingredient choice and kibble that breaks up in a particular way. These diets are prescription diets, so if you think you’d like to try them please have a chat with our team.
How Can my Vet Help?
Despite doing some, or all, of these things at home, it’s still possible that your pet will suffer from periodontal disease. This is especially true if your pet is genetically predisposed or has already lost teeth to the disease.
Regular check-ups with your veterinary nurse can keep track of the level of plaque and tartar in your pet’s mouth and allow an early-warning sign if disease is starting. However, our animals are masters at hiding the signs of disease and sometimes a dental check-up under general anaesthetic is necessary to allow us to do a more thorough exam.
Problems such as fractured teeth, exposed pulp, wobbly back teeth and resorptive lesions can be missed on a conscious check-up, especially if your pet objects to the examination. Putting them under a general anaesthetic allows us to examine more thoroughly and even test the teeth for problems using a dental probe, just like a human dentist. And during the check-up, just like at the dentists, they’ll also get a scale and polish. This enables us to remove any tartar build up from the hard to reach places before it starts to cause a major problem.
For most pets, a scale and polish are necessary every 6-12 months. After all, we humans brush twice daily, but we still miss spots and need a professional clean at least annually. Whilst it is theoretically possible to clean the teeth conscious, the most important area to clean is under the gum line. This is uncomfortable for pets and the majority will not tolerate it without an anaesthetic, meaning that cleaning without anaesthetic results in a sub-standard clean.
When was the last time your pet had a dental clean? If they’re overdue, why not book for a check-up with our vet team and we’ll talk it all through with you!
Your pet’s diet has a big impact on their health and wellbeing. The wrong diet could lead to your pet developing health issues such as obesity, diabetes, pancreatitis, allergies or dental problems — so getting it right is crucial!
- It’s important to feed your dog a complete, balanced, high-quality diet. High-quality commercial dog food will contain all the right nutrients and vitamins, and in the right amounts. The best way to recognise a decent quality diet is to take a look at the list of ingredients. The first item should be an animal protein e.g. chicken or pork. If the item is, for example, chicken ‘derivative’ or ‘meal’ this tends to imply a lower-quality diet. Avoid any diets where the kibble is a range of bright colours which means there are likely to be added colourants and additives. These are added to make the food look more appealing to you, whilst your dog doesn’t care what colour his food is!
- It’s also key to feed a diet appropriate to life stage and age of your pet. As you can probably imagine, a Great Dane puppy has a completely different calorific and growth requirement compared to say, an elderly Chihuahua. You should feed a good quality puppy or junior food up to the age of about 1 year (sometimes longer for large breed dogs – usually to about 15-18 months), then gradually switch to an adult diet, then to a senior food from the age of 8.
- If you have a large breed dog, then you should feed your dog a diet specially formulated for large breeds. This is because joint problems tend to be more common in larger dogs, so these diets contain additional joint supplements to support bone and joint health. Small breed dogs can be more prone to dental disease so generally diets suited to smaller breed dogs have a smaller kibble size and contain supplements to reduce tartar build-up (which can lead to dental disease).
- Once your dog has been spayed or castrated, it’s a good idea to feed a neutered diet. These diets are calorie restricted to help prevent post neutering weight gain. It’s vital to maintain a healthy weight and body condition score (BCS) – extra weight puts your pet at health risks including diabetes, arthritis and heart problems. If your pet is a little on the porky side and is already carrying a few extra pounds, then special prescription weight loss diets are available.
- Cats are obligate carnivores, so it’s important that they are dependent on their diet containing meat to thrive and survive. In a similar way to dogs, they should be fed a life stage-specific diet based on their age.
- Most adult cats are lactose intolerant (they lack the main enzyme required to digest lactose in milk) so it’s best to not feed your cat milk.
- Prescription diets are available for certain health concerns including – kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, arthritis, overactive thyroid (cat), skin problems, urinary problems and cystitis, obesity and many more.
- The bulk of a rabbit’s diet should be hay (fibre) or dark green leafy vegetables – a minimum of 80%. This should ideally mimic what a rabbit would eat in the wild. A small amount of dry concentrate food can be offered, usually about 1 tablespoon per rabbit.
- It’s important to feed a complete pellet concentrate, as muesli mixes promote selective feeding and can lead to dental problems. Diet is particularly important for rabbits to wear down their teeth, which continuously grow. Feeding an unsuitable diet can lead to overgrown teeth, weight problems, fly strike and lack of grooming.
If you require further advice please contact to your local Goddard vet who can share details on what’s best for your pet.
The autumn and winter are a risk time for Alabama Rot, or more properly CRGV, although there were still some cases being picked up in the summer. In this blog, we’re going to look at this mysterious disease in a little more detail.
What’s with the name?
Strictly speaking, Alabama Rot was a condition of racing greyhounds in the USA in the 1980s, and was linked to contaminated feed. However, you will commonly hear people using the term to refer to a modern disease in the UK. Technically, the condition being diagnosed in Britain at the moment is Cutaneous and Renal Glomerular Vasculopathy, or CRGV. However, because “Alabama Rot” sounds scary, it sells more newspapers and hence it’s the name the media have chosen! As a result, that’s what most people call it.
But what actually is it?
It’s a disease that causes blood clots to form in the small blood vessels – typically in the skin and in the kidneys. These clots prevent blood from flowing to the local tissues, so they become starved of oxygen and die, resulting in symptoms.
What are the symptoms?
The first symptoms are ulcers – non-healing wounds that open up without injury. They usually affect the lower legs, but occasionally are seen on the underside of the belly, on the muzzle, or even in the mouth. They can easily look like scrapes or cuts. In the more severe cases, within 7-10 days, the kidneys start to fail, resulting in lethargy, reduced urine production, dehydration, vomiting, a metallic smell on the breath, collapse, and ultimately – in all too many cases – death. This is technically termed “acute kidney injury”, or AKI.
What is the treatment?
The key to treatment is early diagnosis, and then supportive care to help maintain kidney function. This is typically with hospitalisation and aggressive intravenous fluid therapy, keeping affected animals on a drip and managing their symptoms. However, sadly, in many cases kidney failure develops, and often it is so rapid, as to be untreatable, and many of these dogs are put to sleep to prevent further suffering.
What causes it?
No-one knows. Similar conditions are seen with some bacterial infections (e.g. some types of toxic E. coli), but if so, the bacterial cause has not yet been discovered. It has been suggested that a fish bacterium (Aeromonas hydrophila) might be responsible, but this has not been confirmed. Other possibilities that have been raised include food contamination, viral infections, or even a toxin in the environment, but so far there’s no evidence for these.
How can it be prevented?
Again – as we don’t know the cause, we don’t know! Initially, some people were recommending bathing those parts of your dog which become wet or muddy on a walk, but although this will help you detect the ulcers early, we have no evidence to suggest that it would prevent the disease. Some people are also avoiding walking their dogs in certain areas – but although an environmental cause has been suggested, there is no firm evidence as yet that particular areas are transmitting the disease, and most of the dogs affected have walked in areas where hundreds of others go, without the others being affected.
What animals are at risk?
Potentially any dog could develop the condition. That said, if one dog in a household is affected, others seem to be at higher risk – but once more, we do not know why. Fortunately, the disease cannot jump the species barrier, and there have been no reports of cases in humans, cats or other animals.
Should I be worried?
Not unduly so, no. Although CRGV is a very unpleasant disease, from the start of the “outbreak” in 2012 to January this year, there were only 122 confirmed cases – despite there being about 9 million dogs in the UK! It’s a really rare condition, and not something to panic about – especially when we compare it to infectious diseases like Parvo, degenerative ones like heart failure, and injury from cars, which kill many thousands of dogs each year.
What should I do?
Check your dog regularly for unexplained redness or sores on the skin. While most of these won’t be CRGV (again, we’d like to emphasise that it’s really rare!), they are potentially a warning flag. Early diagnosis gives the maximum chance for a successful outcome, so be vigilant, but do not be afraid!
If you find any suspicious lesions, or you’re at all concerned about your dog’s health, give your local Goddard Vet a ring for advice!
There are a couple of age old mantras such as “you are what you eat” and “food is medicine”, both used to deliver the message that our nutrition and our diet, has a major impact on our health. It’s the same story for our pets — so what should I feed my dog we hear you say?
HOW OLD IS YOUR DOG?
Human infants and toddlers have different dietary needs to the likes of teenagers and OAPS as they are at different stages of their lives — it’s the same for dogs. A young puppy needs lots of energy, protein and calcium for growth of muscle, tissue and bone. An older dog, perhaps starting to slow down, needs rather fewer calories.
WHAT BREED IS YOUR DOG?
The difference in size and shape of the jaw may mean that different sizes or shapes of kibble are more easier to chew — this is particularly true of smaller short-nosed dogs, who can really struggle with some sizes of kibbles.
Endurance dog breeds such as Collies are “always on the go” whereas smaller and toy breeds (such as Yorkshire Terriers and Chihuahuas) tend to live a more sedentary lifestyle — which can dramatically impact on their calorie requirements.
HOW BIG IS YOUR DOG?
The adult body size of your dog can affect their growth rate, and their dietary needs, when they are younger. But alongside this, several scientific studies have found evidence which suggests that food moves relatively more quickly through a smaller sized dog, than through a large sized dog, meaning more frequent meals may be needed, or a diet with a different fibre content.
WHAT KIND OF LIFESTYLE DOES YOUR DOG HAVE?
Top performing human athletes require very different diets from your normal office worker — in the dog world a good equivalent example would be the Labrador Retriever. A working Labrador will have different needs to a couch cuddling Lab. Remember, too, that where they live is important! A dog who lives in a kennel probably needs more calories than one who sleeps indoors by the fire, for example.
DOES YOUR DOG HAVE ANY DIETARY SENSITIVITIES?
Some dogs can suffer from allergies and intolerances to certain components of a diet, causing itchy skin or upset tummies for example. Understanding your dogs specific needs, things to avoid, and even methods by which diets are made, all helps to select the right diet.
DOES YOUR DOG HAVE ANY MEDICAL NEEDS?
Some diets are “prescription diets” which have scientific proof demonstrating that they help to control or prevent health issues such as bladder stones, kidney problems or liver issues. Other diets are formulated to include nutrients which may help manage things like arthritis.
COMPLETE DIET OR COMPLEMENTARY DIET?
These two terms sound very similar but what you may not know is that there is a very important difference. The term “complete diet” is a legally protected term in the EU, and using it means that by law, that diet must contain the required energy and nutrients (vitamins, minerals etc.) in the correct proportions. A complementary diet doesn’t have to meet these requirements.
Feeding a complete diet is essential to provide everything your animal needs. When a diet provides too much of something, it can lead to toxicities. For example, dogs fed too much Vitamin D can ultimately suffer from kidney failure. This is one reason it’s important not to feed too much offal in a raw diet.
ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS FOR SAFE HANDLING AND STORAGE OF THE DIET?
Some diets (especially raw ones) may require you to keep in the fridge or freezer, and may have a specific time period for consumption. Feeding these diets may also mean accepting an increased risk of encountering some bacteria which can be harmful to humans such as E.coli, Campylobacter and Salmonella .
The best way to minimise this risk is to change your usual hygiene practices when preparing a pets meal and when cleaning up faeces, to minimise the exposure of you or your family to the bacteria.
Every dog is an individual with their own specific needs and no-one knows those needs better than you and your vet. If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by choice, or just looking for the best diet for your pet, book an appointment with a member of our team. we can discuss a unique individual nutritional assessment for your pet and then recommend a refined range of diet options available to you.