The cat is uneasy about being manhandled. Andora, the office feline, would be content to sleep in her bed and be left alone. As Calvin Rice picks her up and holds her head still, poking and prodding at her gum line. She lets out a cranky moan and squirms in his arms.
But Rice – a veterinarian – is used to squirming animals, and hopes to see even more in his office this month.
This is Pet Dental Healthcare month, and Dr. Rice says it's a good opportunity to remind pet owners that good dental health is key to their pet's overall heath.
Diets such as canned foods are typically the cause of tartar build, as well as accumulation over the years, which can lead to disease. If a pet’s dental disease gets out of control, it can lead to many more problems with the pet’s health. The bacteria in the pet’s mouth can go into the bloodstream and in turn cause heart problems and organ failures.
Fortunately, a pet’s dental health can be maintained with a few simple daily routines, such as daily teeth brushing as well as proper diets and treats that prevent plaque build-up.
“A lot of our issues are with the older animals, with a lot of heavy tartar that require extractions,” he said.
Halitosis, or bad breath, and loose teeth are some of the telltale signs that pets need medical attention for their teeth,
Dr. Rice said it can be hard for pets to let their owners know there is something wrong or that they are in pain. The difference is often only seen after medical attention.
“After they’re done they’re much more alert and active and enjoy life more.”
Vacinate against rabies
Oral hygiene shouldn’t be the only concern. Recent reports of rabies in the area have worried many pet owners in Labrador West, but Dr. Rice said owners shouldn’t panic.
“I think most dogs are vaccinated, which is good. But if they’re not, it should be updated. It’s the best thing you can do for your dog right now.”
Rabies are contracted through bites from a rabid animal, and go through different stages. The first, called the furious stage, is the more historically known. It will then go to dumb rabies, where the animal is subdued.
The initial vaccine for a dog is boosted in a year, followed by three year intervals after that. Cats should be vaccinated each year.
An ounce of prevention
As a preventative measure and to maintain overall good health, pets should be fed the best diet that’s available and affordable, Dr. Rice said.
“There’s a big difference in the quality of foods. The ingredients may be similar, but it’s the quality of the ingredients that differ. There are big names out there that still see problems with the foods. You get what you pay for.”
Many goods have a lot more sugars and carbohydrates in them to make them taste better, which also increases pet’s weight.
“Up here it’s hard because you can’t exercise your dog as often. So you have to watch their intake.”
For overweight animals Dr. Rice recommends weight reduction food, which has 40 per cent fewer calories than regular food, compared to the 20 per cent fewer calories that weight control food has.