Dental Disease: How to Keep your Cat's Teeth Happy and Healthy
February is National Pet Dental Month and according to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 70% of cats and 80% of dogs over the age of three already have dental disease, making it the number one health issue in pets. Unfortunately, lack of good oral hygiene in cats doesn’t just lead to bad kitty breath, it can lead to tooth loss, painful tooth root abscesses, difficulty eating, and even kidney and heart problems if left untreated. How Does Dental Disease Occur in Cats? Just like with people, dental disease occurs in pets when food, saliva, and bacteria combine and form plaque. If the plaque is not removed by brushing it mineralizes and becomes tartar. Tartar accumulation promotes bacterial infections below the gum line, which results in gum recession and gum disease and destruction of the tooth’s support structures which can cause tooth loss. Left untreated, bacteria can enter the bloodstream and spread to vital organs, like the kidneys, liver, or heart. How Do You Know if Your Cat Has Dental Disease? Some of the signs that your cat may have dental disease include unexplained weight loss, trouble eating or decreased appetite, drooling, swollen or wet face. It is important to realize that these signs and symptoms are not specific to dental disease and may be seen in other diseases. The key is to be observant and notify your veterinarian immediately if you notice any of these symptoms or have other health concerns. I also recommend checking your cat’s teeth regularly as well. Just gently lift their lips to check for tartar or red swollen gums. Don’t forget to take your cat in to your veterinarian at least once a year, twice a year if they are over 7 years. Regular veterinary visits are the best way to make sure your cat is not suffering from dental disease. How is Dental Disease Diagnosed? Dental disease in cats is diagnosed by an examination from your veterinarian. Your veterinarian may order dental X-rays to determine the severity of the dental disease. How is Dental Disease in Cats Treated? If your cat already has dental disease a complete dental cleaning by your veterinarian is necessary. This involves an evaluation of the oral cavity and cleaning not only the surface of the teeth but getting under the gumline where the majority of bacteria and tartar are found. After the teeth are cleaned, they are polished to smooth the roughened surfaces that were created by the cleaning. Lastly, the entire mouth is checked again, and dental x-rays will likely be used to assess the extent of the dental disease and the need for any tooth extractions or additional work. The best way to prevent dental disease is to brush your cat’s teeth regularly with cat toothpaste. Non-anesthetic dentals but these are not recommended because they do not get to the root of the problem, they clean only the surface of the teeth (which is cosmetic) and are usually not able to do subgingival cleaning and definitely cannot take x-rays or evaluate each tooth. How Can You Prevent Dental Disease? The goal is to prevent dental disease and the best way to do this is by brushing your cat’s teeth. Ideally, you want to start brushing your cat’s teeth when they are young. Pets should have their teeth brushed daily or at least a few times a week. It is important to use pet-safe toothpaste. These do not bubble or foam and they do not have to be rinsed out. Best of all they come in exciting flavors like chicken, beef, tuna, cheese, and seafood. Yum, right? Brushing is easier you might think. I recommend you start with your fingers, put the pet-safe toothpaste on them, let your kitty lick it off, and then hold their mouth and slowly put your finger in and rub the sides of their teeth. Try doing this for a few days to get them used to it, then try a finger brush or small cat toothbrush. While nothing beats regular brushing, oral wipes, dental diets, and dental treats can help reduce the bacteria and plaque that lead to tartar formation. No matter what you choose, be consistent and see your veterinarian regularly for check-ups. Pets should have their teeth checked at least once a year and if you notice your pet has bad breath, trouble eating, excessive drooling, or red inflamed gums call your veterinarian to schedule an appointment right away. Remember early diagnosis and treatment are the best defense against serious dental disease.Read More
How to Easily Reduce Your Pet's Carbon Pawprint
April 22nd is Earth Day, our yearly reminder to reflect upon how our actions impact the planet. However, as pet parents, we need to also think about how we can reduce our pet’s carbon pawprint. How can we ensure that our pet is eco-friendly? Waste Management Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that pets make lots of waste. Whether you are picking it up, or scooping it, it is estimated that 10 million tons of waste from pets fill landfills every year. How can we make a difference? If you have a dog, use biodegradable poop bags instead of plastic bags to pick up your dog’s poop. Even better, use an in-ground waste disposal system. In-ground waste disposal systems are mini septic systems that allow you to dispose of your dog’s waste right in your back yard. There are several companies that sell kits you can buy to create your own environmentally-friendly dog waste disposal system. If you have a cat, switch from a clay-based litter to a biodegradable litter like ökocat to cut down on the estimated 2 million tons of clay litter that end up in landfills yearly. Learn how to compost ökocat litter here. Don’t Pollute Always pick up after your pet. Besides being inconsiderate, leaving your pet’s waste behind can pollute water sources from runoff. Follow the backpacker’s motto and pack out what you pack in and leave only footprints (or pawprints) behind. Buy Green Buying green can include purchasing products made from recycled or sustainable materials, or buying products that are chemical-free. Nowadays, you can buy beds made from reclaimed memory foam scraps and recycled plastic water bottles, or leashes and collars made from sustainably grown hemp. You can purchase ökocat litter that is made fragrance and chemical-free. Buying chemical-free products is not only good for the environment, but better for you and your pet. Read more going green tips Buy in Bulk Buying pet food and pet supplies in bulk not only saves money, it also conserves fuel and lowers emissions by saving you extra trips to the store. Pet Overpopulation Make sure your pet isn’t adding to the pet over-population problem by having your pets spayed or neutered. Adopt a Shelter Pet Don’t forget about your local animal shelter if you are thinking about getting a pet. There are lots of “recycled pets” that need a good home. While adopting one of these deserving pets may not lower emissions or save fuel, it can save a life. By adopting these simple tips, you and your pet can live green and make the planet a better place.Read More
Top tips to keep your cat safe at home!
A cat’s insatiable curiosity is an incredibly endearing feline trait. While it is a sign of their intelligence, their inquisitive nature can also get them into trouble. After all, there is a reason for the saying “curiosity killed the cat.” So what can pet parents do to protect their feline friends? How can they cat-proof their home? To keep their cats safe, pet parents need to recognize and address these common household dangers. Kitchen and Laundry Room Cats have a knack for getting into things. Unfortunately, the kitchen or laundry room can be a hazardous place for curious kitties. Keep appliance doors closed: If your cat gets into a grocery bag or purse, it’s cute. If your cat gets into the dishwasher, oven, washer, or dryer, it can be lethal. Animals have been hurt or even killed when someone turns on the appliance without realizing their pet is inside. Preventing these tragedies is simple: always keep lids and doors closed and check before turning on the appliance. Don’t leave food unattended: Cats also have an amazing sense of smell and seem to know where to find tasty food. Keep foods that are toxic to cats, such as chocolate and alcohol, out of their reach. Also keep them away from poultry bones that can splinter and get lodged in their gastrointestinal tract. To avoid these problems, keep unattended food off tables and counters and dispose of leftovers in a covered garbage can to prevent garbage surfing. Keep cleaners tucked away: Be sure to store detergents and household cleaners safely out of your feline’s reach. Living Room At first glance, the living room may seem like a safe haven. Unfortunately, first impressions can be deceiving. Place breakables out of reach: Our carefully placed decorations can also draw the unwanted attention of our curious cats. Bright, shiny, and especially fragile objects seem to beckon our curious feline friends to play with them. If knocked over and shattered, glass and ceramic fragments are razor sharp and can cut unsuspecting paws. Don’t leave lit candles unsupervised: Little paws can do more than break fragile decorations. Lit candles that are knocked over can burn your pet, or even worse, cause a household fire. Know which plants are feline-friendly: Even decorative plants can be deadly. Before you bring any plants or flowers to your home, check to make sure they are not poisonous to your cat. Lilies, for example, are highly toxic to cats and consumption of any part of the plant can lead to kidney failure and death. Keep electrical cords out of reach: They can electrocute your pet if chewed upon or strangle your pet if they get tangled in the cord. Check under your recliners: Finally, before your sit down and relax in your recliner or rocking chair, always make sure your cat hasn’t curled up beneath it. Bathroom The bathroom ranks as the smallest room in a typical house, but what it lacks in square footage it makes up for in hazards. Toss the floss: What’s good for your teeth may not be good for your cat. Flossing may be what the dentist ordered, but flossing can actually be dangerous to our cats. Cats are often drawn to linear objects like yarn and dental floss. Ingesting a linear object can cause an intestinal obstruction that can be fatal if not treated with emergent surgery. Floss to keep your teeth and gums healthy. Just remember to dispose of your floss in a covered garbage can. Don’t leave the curler on: Lastly, be careful with hot hairdryers and curling irons that can burn an unsuspecting, curious cat’s nose. Garage The garage is usually the most dangerous place in your home for your cat. Garages are stockpiles of hazardous chemicals, pesticides and fertilizers. Be wary of chemicals: Make sure all chemicals are safely put away. Some chemicals, like antifreeze, have an appealing sweet smell that can entice a curious pet for a taste. Unfortunately even a mere taste can be lethal. Safely store your pesticides: Insecticides, rodenticides, and fertilizers can also be toxic. Pesticides are the most dangerous because they are often sweetened or scented to attract pests and cats can become their unintended victims. You can never protect your pet from every possible hazard. However, you can take these measures to make your home safer for your pets and protect them from these common household dangers. Following these suggestions can help keep your cats safe and prevent unscheduled emergency visits to the veterinarian. ökocat is not only dedicated to making the best cat litter, but also committed to helping cats live longer, healthier lives by educating pet parents about important cat health topics.Read More
Vet Tips for the Best Guinea Pig Care
Guinea pigs make great pets, especially for first time pet owners. They are friendly, hardy, relatively easy to take care for, and have adorable personalities. If you are thinking about getting a guinea pig, what will you need to have? Guinea pigs need: housing, pet supplies, food, toys and of course, lots of love and attention. Housing First and foremost, your piggy will need a place to call home. When picking a habitat for your pig, the most important consideration is getting the right size for the enclosure. Unlike smaller rodents, guinea pigs need more space. According to the Humane Society, the minimum size for one guinea pig is 7.5 square feet (30” x 36”), but bigger is better. The minimum size for two guinea pigs is also 7.5 square feet, but 10.5 square feet is preferred (30” x 50”). Guinea pigs should also be housed in a home with a solid bottom. Avoid cages with wire bottoms as these can harm their feet. Ideally choose a habitat made for guinea pigs as these often have ramps and second levels made especially for guinea pigs. The cage needs to be large enough to have a hut for your piggy to hide and sleep in. You can buy plastic guinea pig huts or use a small upside-down cardboard box as well. You also want room for tunnels and other play toys, and of course, your sturdy ceramic food and water bowls. Most cages made for guinea pigs have removable bottom trays that allow for easy cleaning. Midwest makes a good size guinea pig habitat and you can add on more for additional space. In addition to the habitat, you will need bedding to cover the floor. You can use recycled paper products, aspen chips, and wood pulp products, such as carefresh®. carefresh® is ideal for guinea pigs because it is twice more absorbent than shavings, can suppress odors for up to 10 days, is 99% dust-free, and is soft and comfortable. Newspaper is not ideal since it is not very absorbent and needs to be changed frequently. Cedar and pine shavings are not recommended because they can cause respiratory problems. Corn cob products are also not recommended as they can be ingested leading to obstructions. No matter which bedding you ultimately chose, the bedding needs to be changed regularly to keep the cage clean and odor-free. Finally, your guinea pig needs an “igloo” or hut to hide or sleep in. Guinea pigs like to have a hiding place where they can feel secure. Can you blame them for wanting some privacy? Food Guinea pigs need three food essentials: guinea pig pellets, hay and fresh fruits and veggies. Pick a high-quality guinea pig pellet and make sure it is always accessible to your piggy. While pellets are a major part of their diet, they also need to have fresh hay every day. You can choose from Timothy Hay, alfalfa, or other grass hay varieties made for guinea pigs. Hay is necessary for their intestinal health and to help prevent their teeth from overgrowing. Guinea pigs also need fresh fruit and vegetables every day. Guinea pigs require a dietary source of vitamin C as they lack the enzyme required to synthesize Vitamin C. Without a daily source of vitamin C, they can develop scurvy from vitamin C deficiency. Foods such as parsley, cilantro, kale, spinach, broccoli, and peppers, beet greens and tomatoes contain high levels of vitamin C. While fruits are also a good source of vitamin C, they should be offered only in small quantities as treats due to their high sugar levels. Vitamin C can also be added to your guinea pig’s water. Finally, don’t forget to provide clean water in a either a bowl or water bottle. Water bottles are preferred since they stay cleaner longer and can hold a lot of water. Toys Like other animals, guinea pigs like to play with toys. Guinea pigs like to play with balls, bells, and stuffed animals, but chew toys are by far their favorite. There are a number of different wooden chew toys you can clip to their cage. Guinea pigs also like cardboard tunnels. Not only are they fun to chew, but they also provide a hiding place and are fun to push around. Consider getting an exercise pen so your guinea pig can get some exercise and safely explore outside of their cage. Make sure to avoid exercise wheels and balls. Guinea pigs’ have different anatomy than smaller rodents and their spines are unable to bend backwards. Exercise wheels and balls can cause severely back injuries. Remember, guinea pigs are social animals and they simply enjoy your company and being petted. You can tell they are happy by the cute sounds they make when they are being loved. Pet Care Like other rodents, guinea pigs have teeth that grow continuously. In order to prevent their teeth from becoming overgrown, they have to wear down their teeth. This can usually be accomplished by providing them with hay at all times, chew toys, and cardboard tunnels. If their teeth become overgrown, they may be unable to eat and will need to see a veterinarian. In addition to their teeth, guinea pigs need to have their nails trimmed every few weeks. Without regular nail trims, their nails can get overgrown and become painful. If your guinea pig is of the long-haired variety, it will need to be brushed regularly to prevent matting. Guinea pigs are social animals and generally do well with other guinea pigs. If you decide to get more than one guinea pig, make sure they are of the same sex. Otherwise you will end up with a household full of guinea pigs. Finally, although guinea pigs are relatively hardy, they are curious and can get themselves in trouble. Keep an eye on your guinea pig and make sure that they don’t chew on electrical cords, eat something they shouldn’t, or fall and injury themselves. Lastly just like cats and dogs, it is ideal for guinea pigs to have annual check-ups. If you don’t already have a veterinarian be sure you choose one that sees guinea pigs and make an appointment to bring your new piggy in for a wellness check right away. If you’ve decided to get a guinea pig, keep these suggestions in mind and buy the supplies you need to welcome your new guinea pigs home.Read More
“Green Pet Living”- How to Help Your Pets Go Green Too!
With COVID dominating the news, it is easy to overlook that April 22nd is Earth Day. However, in many ways, COVID has directed a new spotlight on the importance of the environment. The spread of new viral diseases from wildlife to humans highlights the negative impact of deforestation, habitat loss, the illegal wildlife trade, and climate change. Likewise, stay-at-home orders have resulted in less pollution and visibly cleaner air and water. Photo by Leonardo Baldissara on Unsplash This Earth Day, besides thinking about how you can reduce your carbon footprint, think about what you can do to reduce your pet’s carbon pawprint. Here are a few simple changes you can make to ensure that your pet is living green too. Waste Management. Anyone who has ever had a pet knows that they create lots of waste. It is estimated that 10 million tons of waste from pets fill landfills yearly. What can be done? Instead of using plastic bags to pick up and dispose of your pet’s waste, try using recycled biodegradable pet poop bags. If you have a cat, consider switching from a clay-based litter to a biodegradable litter, such as ökocat. By switching to a biodegradable litter, you can cut down on the estimated 2 million tons of clay litter that end up in landfills. If you brave you can also try teaching your cat to use the toilet. It sounds crazy but cats can accurately be trained to use a toilet. Kits are available that help you guide your cat through the process. It may be a lot of work at first but think about never having to clean a litter box again? Now if we could just teach them to flush! Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute. Always pick-up after your pet and follow the backpacker’s motto of leaving only footprints. Leaving your pet’s waste behind is not only rude; it can pollute water sources when washed into the storm drains that empty into streams and lakes. Buy Green. Purchase pet beds, furniture and toys made from recycled or sustainable materials such as hemp. Environmentally friendly hemp can be used to make almost everything, like leashes, collars, beds and toys. Nowadays it is easy to find recycled pet products at large pet retailers all across the country. Buy in Bulk. Buying pet food and pet supplies in bulk not only saves money, it also conserves fuel and lowers emissions by saving you extra trips to the store. Consider buying a plastic bin to keep your pet’s food fresh. Some of the larger pet retail stores also sell litter in bulk- where you bring in your container and they fill it up. This saves packaging and also you a lot of money-as you get to buy the litter at a big discount. Pet Overpopulation. Make sure your pet isn’t adding to the pet over-population problem by having your pets spayed or neutered. Shelters spend millions of dollars caring for homeless pets. Be sure you aren’t contributing to this problem. Consider also donating your old towels, blankets to a nearby shelter-this helps you declutter, helps the shelter cut costs, and gives a needy pet a nice blanket to sleep on. If you have the time think about volunteering at a nearby shelter. Recycled Pets. If you are thinking about adding to your family think about getting a pet from the shelter. There are tons of “recycled pets” in need of a good home. While adopting one of these deserving pets may not lower emissions or save fuel, it can save a life. One silver lining of COVID has been the realization of what we can accomplish if we work together for a common goal. In a short span of time, stay-at-home orders have produced tangible results, such as cleaner air and water. Across the globe, scientists have measured lower gas emissions and pollution levels as industries, transportation, and businesses have closed. In New York, pollution was reduced by nearly 50%, and in China, emissions fell 25% due to COVID restrictions. Although results are only short-term, they highlight what we could accomplish if we act as global citizens. This year, think about what you, and your pet can do to make our planet greener.Read More
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Dr. Ruth MacPete
aka Dr. Ruth, The Pet Vet
“I am passionate about pet care and educating pet parents about making Earth-friendly choices, and I admire Healthy Pet for making products that are good not only for your pets, but also your family and the environment.”Visit the Pet Vet