At Battletown Animal Clinic, we know that you take great care of your pet already. You bring him in for routine check-ups, feed him nutritious food, groom him, and make sure that he gets plenty of exercise. Despite this, you could be overlooking caring for his teeth and gums. Oral health is just as important for our pets as it is for us.

Dogs and cats need require regular toothbrushing at home and a professional cleaning under anesthesia at least once a year for optimal oral health. When they don’t receive these things, it significantly increases the likelihood of developing periodontal disease. This can lead to infection, bone loss, and tooth loss in addition to increasing the chances of your pet developing diabetes or heart disease.

A Common Yet Preventable Oral Health Disease
Did you know that approximately 80 percent of dogs and cats have some degree of periodontal disease by the time they turn three? Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease happens when plaque, tartar, and bacteria accumulate on your dog or cat’s teeth and attack her gum tissues. Besides regular brushing, selecting a pet food with a high concentration of protein and meat with little or no artificial fillers can help to slow or prevent the development of gum disease. Pets who already have severe tooth decay may need a dental-specific diet.

Even though regular professional care is important, the oral healthcare routine you follow with you pet at home makes the greatest difference. We recommend attempting to brush your pet’s teeth every day or at least several times during the week. Be sure to start slow if you have never tried to brush your pet’s teeth in the past. Allow her to lick and sniff the toothbrush and toothpaste to get used to it. The next day, place the toothbrush in your pet’s mouth and brush for a few seconds. The goal is to build her tolerance to the process so you can eventually brush for a full two minutes. 

For resistant or fearful pets, plan to wear a pair of rubber gloves and use a small finger brush when you first start with toothbrushing. We have found that pet owners who remain consistent with the routine and give their dog or cat a lot of praise eventually gain their cooperation. If you find that you’re still struggling after several weeks, don’t hesitate to ask a veterinarian or technician at Battletown Animal Hospital for additional advice.

Indications Your Dog or Cat Could Have Periodontal Disease
These symptoms are common to periodontal disease in pets:
  • Excessive drooling
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Reluctance to eat and/or difficulty chewing food
  • Staining on the teeth
Please contact us for an immediate oral health evaluation if you notice one or more of these symptoms. If your pet does have periodontal disease, we will let you know how to care for her teeth and gums going forward. We also check the condition of your pet’s teeth and gums at her preventive care exam.

Our staff uses anesthesia during your pet’s cleaning session and oral exam to ensure that he remains comfortable and cooperative. We also take a dental radiograph during this appointment, which provides us with a clear image of your dog or cat’s teeth, mouth, and jaw. This gives us with a baseline as well makes it easier to plan treatment. 

Happy Pet Dental Health Month! We hope to see you and your smiling pet soon.

Photo Credit: alexei_tm / Getty Images

Antifreeze is a wonderful invention. After all, it helps your car start on the coldest days of a Virginia winter. It also helps ice to melt on the windshield of your car and is an important part of hydraulic brake fluid. It’s easy for you to tell the difference between antifreeze and water, but that isn’t the case for your dog or cat. Not only does it look like water to pets, it also attracts them due to its sweet smell.

If you spill antifreeze on your driveway or your pet gets into it in the garage, he could suffer sudden and severe symptoms that could cause long-term damage to his health. Antifreeze contains ethylene glycol, a toxic ingredient for dogs and cats. In fact, a cat only needs to swallow an amount equivalent to a teaspoon to go into kidney failure. For dogs, the amount is approximately one tablespoon.

A thirsty pet who can’t tell the difference between water and antifreeze might lap up the fluid faster than you can clean it. That’s why keeping antifreeze well out of your pet’s reach is so important. If you do notice a spill, wipe it up immediately even if your pet isn’t near you. When you’re not using the antifreeze, be sure to store it on a high shelf in the garage where your pet can’t get it at.

Common Symptoms of Antifreeze Poisoning
The most frequent symptoms that occur within 30 minutes to 12 hours after consuming antifreeze include vomiting, excessive thirst, drooling, urinating more than usual, and sometimes seizures. Your pet’s symptoms will typically become worse around the 24-hour mark, although you might not be able to tell from outward behavior and appearance.

A cat can develop severe symptoms within 12 to 24 hours while it can take 24 to 72 hours for a dog. In addition to the early symptoms, a pet at this stage might also appear lethargic and depressed, show no interest and eating, or slip into a comatose state.

Contact Us if There’s Any Possibility Your Pet Consumed Antifreeze
You might not have seen your pet drink antifreeze but feel concerned with her symptoms and behavior nonetheless. We encourage you to contact Battletown Animal Hospital during regular business hours at 540-955-2171 to request an immediate evaluation. After hours, you may contact The Life Centre in Loudoun County at 703-777-5755 or Valley Veterinary Emergency in Shenandoah Valley at 540-662-7811. Even if your pet doesn’t appear to need emergency services right now, she will likely develop them if she has indeed ingested antifreeze.

Photo Credit: Jovanmandic / Getty Images

Canine distemper is such a serious disease that Virginia law requires dog owners to vaccinate against it. While you may have heard plenty about rabies, it’s possible that you have never heard about a dog with distemper. The disease attacks the respiratory, nervous, and gastrointestinal systems of dogs and is highly contagious as well. That’s why getting your dog vaccinated on time is so essential.


Symptoms and Transmission of Canine Distemper
A dog who already has the disease can pass it along through her urine, saliva, or blood. If your unvaccinated dog shares a food dish with a dog infected with distemper, she could pick it up that easily. Inhaling sneeze droplets is another common method of transmission. Unfortunately, the distemper virus travels quickly once your dog has acquired it. Typical symptoms of distemper include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Eye discharge
  • Nose discharge
  • Fever
  • Lack of energy
  • Appetite loss
Your dog could also pick up the virus through contact with a wild animal. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has reported distemper in the following:
  • Wolves
  • Tigers
  • Skunks
  • Seals
  • Raccoons
  • Minks
  • Leopards
  • Lions
  • Foxes
  • Ferrets
  • Coyotes
You must keep your dog away from all wild animals to ensure that she doesn’t acquire the distemper virus. If a pregnant dog acquires distemper, the virus can travel through her placenta to infect her puppies. A dog or puppy with the virus may continue to shed it for several months after the initial infection. Adults dogs who haven’t received a vaccination and puppies under four months of age make up the two biggest risk categories for canine distemper.

Diagnosing and Treating Distemper in Dogs
We encourage you to contact Battletown Animal Hospital right away if your dog shows signs of any of the symptoms we listed above. Our veterinarians rely on clinical observation and laboratory testing to make a diagnosis. Currently, no cure exists for canine distemper and we can only treat its symptoms. This could include medication to fight nausea and increasing fluids to keep your dog hydrated. If your dog does receive a diagnosis, you must keep him away from other dogs until he no longer displays any symptoms.

What You Should Know About the Distemper Vaccine
If a mother dog has received a distemper vaccination, her puppies benefit from natural immunity for about the first six weeks. You should plan to get your puppy’s first vaccine no later than nine weeks of age. The vaccine for canine distemper is part of a vaccine that also prevents hepatitis, influenza, adenovirus, and parvovirus that dogs typically receive at their preventive care exam. We recommend that you get the second vaccine dose for your puppy at 12 weeks. After that, she won’t need one until age one and then every three years.

The staff at Battletown Animal Hospital is happy to answer any additional questions you have about preventing or recognizing distemper or treating its symptoms. 
 
Photo Credit: BM Murphy / Getty Images

The average winter temperature in Virginia is 32 degrees, which is also the point of freezing. At Battletown Animal Hospital, we urge you to keep this in mind when your pet spends time outside this winter. 

You certainly don’t have to avoid letting your pet outside, but it’s important to take precautions to reduce the risk of a winter illness or injury. For example, invest in an insulated dog house if your dog spends several hours outdoors every day. Although she might not like wearing them, you might also want to buy clothing and booties for your pet to ensure extra warmth while the weather is cold. 

Know the Signs of Cold Weather Trouble
Your pet could potentially develop hypothermia or frostbite if exposed to temperatures below 32 degrees for a long period. You may notice that he shivers uncontrollably, seems weak or lethargic, or bodily tissues appear black or bright red. Frostbite typically occurs on the paw pads, tips of the ears, and the tail. It can lead to hypothermia if not treated, which is the more serious condition. You should contact us right away if the affected areas of your pet’s body become dark instead of reddening as they thaw.

 
Other Winter Safety Hazards for Pets
Using anti-freeze gives you extra assurance that your car will start on a cold day. The problem is that it looks like water to your pet and has a sweet smell that can entice him to drink it. Make sure that you keep unused anti-freeze on a high shelf in your garage and wipe up any spills right away. Your pet might have consumed anti-freeze if he appears confused, vomits, or drools more than usual.


Keep in mind that cats, small dogs, and even some wild animals might hide under the hood of your car, in the exhaust system, or the wheel well when the weather gets cold. Before starting your car, be certain that an animal hasn’t taken up residence. Even if a pet survives a car ride, she is likely to experience long-term carbon monoxide poisoning effects.

Road salt, made from sodium chloride and chemical additives, helps to melt ice on driveways, sidewalks, and streets to make them safer for people to walk or drive on. However, road salt can be toxic to pets if they ingest it as well as cause pain and inflammation when they step on it. If your pet needs to walk over road salt, consider covering her paws with booties. Additionally, keep the fur between toes cut short so road salt doesn’t stick to it. 

What to Do in an Emergency
If you think your pet has hypothermia, has ingested a toxic substance, or is experiencing another type of emergency, please contact Battletown Animal Hospital during regular business hours at 540-955-2171 to request an immediate appointment. After hours, you may call Life Centre at 703-777-5755 or Valley Veterinary Emergency and Referral Service at 540-662-7811.


Photo Credit: MirasWonderland / Getty Images
2017 is on its last leg and 2018 will be here before you know it. Whether you plan to host a party, attend a party with your pet in tow, or sit quietly at home, Battletown Animal Hospital encourages you to review a few pet safety tips now so you can avoid ringing in the new year with a veterinary emergency. This starts by keeping your pet indoors on the evening of December 31 and the wee hours of January 1. 
 
Due to the noise and celebration associated with the holiday, your pet will feel the most secure in an enclosed room. It’s best to place her in a room without windows so she doesn’t become anxious or over-excited about what’s going on outside. Just make sure that you stock the room with your dog or cat’s favorite bedding and toys as well as plenty of food and water. Keeping your pet in another room during New Year’s Eve is an especially good idea if you plan to entertain guests. You may even want to consider temporary boarding for your pet if you expect an extended celebration.
 
Noisemakers and Fireworks Can Be a Nightmare for Pets
Noisemakers and New Year’s Eve go together like peanut butter and jelly, but that doesn’t mean that your pet will enjoy the sounds they make. Since he doesn’t know where the sound is coming from, it can make him feel extremely anxious. This is another good reason to keep him in a separate room away from the noise and activity. 
 
Fireworks are even more upsetting to pets, but unfortunately, you can’t control whether someone in your neighborhood sets them off near midnight on December 31. The best you can do is keep your pet in the house to avoid potential injuries and provide a calming environment as well as plenty of reassurance. 
 
It’s Not Funny to Give Alcohol to a Dog or Cat
There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a beer or glass of wine with friends on New Year’s Eve. Just keep in mind that too much alcohol can lower people’s inhibitions and affect their judgment. Someone may even think it’s a good idea to share alcohol with your dog or cat. However, even a small amount of alcohol is toxic to pets and can make them extremely ill. To avoid this, keep alcoholic beverages out of your pet’s reach and instruct your guests never to give alcohol of any kind to your pet.
 
Make Sure Your Pet Has Microchip Identification
Even when you’re careful, a pet who feels stressed may rush out the door amidst the noise and confusion of your celebration. The good news is that pets with microchips are much more likely to reconnect with their human families than those with only a collar and tag or no identification at all. If your pet doesn’t have a microchip yet, you can schedule this simple procedure at Battletown Animal Hospital or request it during your pet’s next preventive care exam
 
Our entire staff wishes you and your pet a happy and healthy 2018!

Photo Credit: Visivasnc / Getty Images