2022 February is Dental Health Month

Dentistry equipment is another item we use in the practice routinely. This has been an important tool as most pets have some amount of dental disease by the age of 3. It has been said that without brushing your pet’s teeth at least 4 times a week they will develop issues with tarter and gum disease. If you begin brushing your pet’s teeth at an early age most of them enjoy the flavored toothpaste and attention. I encourage people to start with their puppies and kittens before the age of 4 months therefore they see it as a part of the daily routine and not something to fear.

Interesting enough when I graduated in 1988 from the College of Veterinary Medicine we had very little time spent on dental hygiene. There was an awareness that teeth would need to be pulled or jaws repaired related to trauma or age. We knew that teeth can get bad in a short period of time but the idea of doing regular dental care was less common. Amazing changes have taken place since then.

Veterinary Dentistry has become an area of specialization. Besides doing scaling/polishing/extractions, we now have dogs with braces, root canals, crowns, orthodontic care, etc. These advancements are important to be aware of since years ago, the only option was extraction. Now a tooth can be saved which prevents further decay to the rest of the teeth surrounding the bad tooth. Often when the 4th premolar tooth is removed the pets will no longer chew on that side so tarter build up occurs faster.

It is important to FLIP THE LIP of your dog or cat. Look at the surface of the teeth and determine if dental care is needed. Be certain to look at the front of the mouth but also the larger premolars and molars towards the back. Pets have a salivary gland above those upper teeth and that contributes to the accumulation of tarter. Foul breath can also be an indication of need for dental preventative care. If the odor is not consistent it may be something else that is causing the bad breath. Many pet owners want to believe that bad teeth are the cause of their pet not wanting to eat. Research shows that rarely is dental disease the cause of pets not eating. We see some horrible mouths and those dogs and cats are still eating. 

Dental Machine

Our pets need to be under anesthesia to have their teeth professionally cleaned. An assessment is done of the teeth to determine viablilty of the teeth. Large chunks of tarter are removed with hand tools prior to extractions. This gives visualization of the tooth surface to see if there is any damage to the tooth. The mobile dental machine has dental burrs to help with extractions of multiple root teeth. The 4th premolars have 3 roots and when fractured those roots remain solid so it is necessary to extract the tooth in multiple pieces.  Another area where these burrs are important is when the canine tooth is damaged it aids in extractions as well. The root of the canine teeth are as long as what you visibly see of that exposed tooth.

The ultrasonic scaler is used to remove additional plaque on the surface of the teeth and is followed with polishing the teeth. We have flavored polish that freshens the breath temporarily but if good home care is not continued in a short period of time there will be accumulation of plaque once again.  Many older dogs and cats do not chew their food anymore which contributes to the poor dental health. There are dental chews and other products that can assist in dental health, but only brushing offers the best long term benefits.       

If no home care is done we expect to see dogs annually for dental preventative care. Once a dog starts having accumulation of plaque with further buildup if hardens and mineralizes to form tarter. As tarter builds up if pushes against the gum surface and gingivitis can develop over time. We also see gum recession and exposure of the root of the tooth all of which damage the tooth and lead to extraction. Pay attention to your pet’s teeth. Abscessed teeth are common in both cats and dogs and occur with advanced dental disease. Avoid these problems by having routine dental care done for your pets. Keep their mouth healthy with routine brushing, dental care, and use of foods that prevent tarter and plaque build up.  Doing these things will extend the health of your pet’s teeth. If interested in having your pet’s teeth cleaned we schedule those appointments M-F. The pets come in by 8:30 am and are usually ready to go home anytime after 4:00 pm. They do not need to spend a night with us to have the teeth professionally cleaned. Go ahead and flip your pets lip and see if you need to schedule an appointment with us.

ISO Scanners???

With the start of a new year, we begin a new theme for blogs. Looking back over the past years it does become a little more challenging to discover new things to discuss. Decided to talk about the different tools that can be used to assist us with our daily tasks as veterinarians. 

The first tool that we use quite frequently is an ISO microchip scanner. When microchips were introduced, each company had a chip and a scanner. That was clumsy because scanners would only read their companies chips or certain frequencies. Therefore, a chip may have been missed by a shelter or veterinary office unless they had multiple scanners. The International Standards Organization (ISO) approved and recommended a global standard for microchips. At that time, it was also decided that chips should have 15 numbers and no letters. They would be called universal chips and would be accepted worldwide. All chips would also be read with a forward and backward universal scanner. The ISO frequency is 134.2kHz. There are 125kHz and 128 kHz chips still implanted in dogs. They are not acceptable to travel worldwide but most universal scanners will detect the chip number if the pet is scanned properly. Earlier chips had a tendency to migrate once implanted. The new universal chips will not migrate. If scanning a pet be certain to scan over the entire body just in case they were chipped with an earlier version of microchips.

At this time no company has microchips that have GPS trackers on them. There are collars that come with tracking devices but as for a microchip that is implanted and trackable, that technology is not available. The size of the GPS tracker and its need to be charged does not allow for this to be implanted under the skin of an animal. The following link is one source that is available if you are interested in tracking your dog’s movements. There are usually costs associated with the tracking so be aware of that as you are considering this type of technology. 

https://tractive.com/en/pd/gps-tracker-dog

We can place microchips under the skin above the shoulder blades on any animal during a routine exam. The microchips we provide are from Home Again. Once the chip has been placed, we register the chip with Home Again to safeguard that information is available should the pet ever get lost. It is important that owners update this information should addresses or phone numbers change. We have had situations where a lost pet is brought to Winterset Veterinary Center and we find a microchip number but it is registered to a person in California. We know that animal did not walk from California to Iowa. Updating this information is as important as notifying the Post Office of an address change. In a few situations a pet has 2 microchips. Please register both chips. When a pet is scanned the first number it picks up is the one searched. No one suspects a second chip being present. Therefore you must register both numbers. This can happen from a pet being lost and a chip migrates so it is missed and when adopted out a new chip is placed. I also had a puppy that had 2 chips – both placed from the breeder. Apparently one puppy got two chips and another did not have one. It can happen so just make certain to register both chips if you find out your pet has more than one chip.

Many people fear that the microchip carries important information that could affect ones privacy. This is not true. The only information gathered from the chip reader is the 15 digit number and recently I was able to get the pets body temperature from the chip. That beats a rectal or ear thermometer any day! All personal information is kept confidential by the company that registered your pet’s microchip.

For under $50 a microchip can be placed and registered to safeguard your pet gets home should they ever decide to wander off. We have had dogs all sizes, ages, shapes, and colors, come to us as lost pets. The reunion happens quickly if a chip is discovered.  Without a chip, the distance a dog can travel in a short period of time makes that reunion much less likely. Statistics have shown that 15% of dog and cat owners will lose their pets. Dogs have a recovery rate of 93% but cats are only at 75%. Dogs seem to wander away more than once. Cats not wearing ID collars because they are considered “only indoors” is a big concern. In one study 41% of the owners who were searching for their lost cat reported the cat was indoor only.  Cats wearing a collar with an ID tag is a great method to improve reunion of cats with their owners. All pets should be microchipped as a way to improve a lost pet being reunited with their family.

Any microchip can be registered with the Home Again’s registry if you wish. You can register with multiple registry’s. American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has a microchip lookup online site where you may search microchip numbers of found pets. If you have found a pet you are able to enter the chip number and it will give you a phone number to the proper site so a pet may get home safely. Again your personal information is protected and that of your pet. It is designed to reunite pets with their families as quickly as possible.

All pets should be microchipped if you want to assure they find their way home to you. One is never assured that even an indoor only cat or a tiny dog would not wander off someday. I once had a person ask my why their 8 year old neutered male boxer ran away. He had never done something like that in the past. This owner was worried but also confused about why? I had no answer for him and as you might guess there was no collar or chip with identification on it.

Place a microchip in your pet. Get ID on the collar of your pet. Start kittens with collars at a young age so you can have ID on them as well. Last week I saw a client that had her phone number embroidered on her cats’ break away collars. She is not leaving it to chance. She wants to make certain her cats get back home if they were ever to get lost.

If you have more questions about microchips feel free to contact me at Winterset Veterinary Center during regular business hours or the article below has some additional information about frequently asked questions.

https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/microchips-reunite-pets-families/microchipping-faq

Please do not let your pet go out unprotected. Their ability to get home depends on you. A microchip is a pet insurance that is priceless were you ever faced with a lost pet.

Months of Animal Blogs in 2021

We began the year with Alpaca/llama’s followed by mini horses, rabbits, cattle, goats, pigs, sheep, and chickens. I was wondering what I should do to round out the year. I decided that even though I do not do a lot of exotics, zoo, or marine species, this would be a good topic for the final month of 2021.

As veterinarians there is no species that we do not see. We may have preferences for certain species but after receiving your DVM degree and passing your state boards you can treat any and all mammals, birds, reptiles of land, water, and air. This carries with it a great responsibility to explore the variations between these species.

At Winterset Veterinary Center we do see a few exotic species for simple procedures on occasion. It may be a bird for wing or nail trims or a pocket pet for eye issues or a reptile for skin lesions We have had skunks, raccoon, possums, and wild birds brought in for certain procedures. An occasional snake or iguana has entered the practice for one reason or another. I will admit that I am more of a fur and feather veterinarian, but Dr. Jim has always been willing to see “All Creatures Great and Small”.

When these unusual creatures come in often their needs come down to basic husbandry issues. Cleanliness of their cages, temperatures that need to be consistent, water sources that are necessary for healthy skin, diets that are complete with the nutrients needed to remain healthy so they live a long life. Sometimes we have to offer the facts that lead to a difficult decision since some have a short lifespan to begin with. Sometimes we will refer if additional diagnostics are needed. The area of exotics has expanded in the last decade and more people are seeking out treatment for their special friends.

I know that my daughter would enjoy snuggling with a snake as much as a puppy. She said the way they will wrap themselves up around her and give the big hugs has always been a physical high for her.  She is the  one furthest to the right in this photo. A friend owns these and she has enjoyed their unique personalities.

I have watched exotic veterinarians on television handle the different species that enter their doors and have learned interesting facts. Since my practice days have mostly been in more rural areas we see less exotics. The neat thing is that regardless of what someone classifies as a pet we are given the opportunity to help them stay healthy and live longer lives. These pets mean as much to their owner as a puppy or kitten does to theirs. We must do everything possible to protect that client- patient- veterinarian relationship. As the song goes…

ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL

ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL

ALL THINGS WISE AND WONDERFUL

THE LORD GOD MADE THEM ALL!

As we say goodbye to 2021, Dr. Jim, our staff, and myself would like to thank you for entrusting us with your pets and livestock. We continue to strive to meet your expectations and retain your loyalty and trust. Winterset Veterinary Center cannot exist without our clients and their critters. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! See you in 2022!

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