Archive for pet safety

Reasons not to Choose Anesthesia Free Dentals for Your Pet

Reasons not to Choose Anesthesia Free Dentals for Your Pet

After years of anesthesia free pet dentals, this dog had lost so much bone structure due to undetected periodontal disease the probe goes through the entire jaw.

Those that provide Anesthesia Free Dentistry or No Anesthesia Dentistry (NAD) would like you to believe by removing visible tartar from the teeth they are improving oral health. This is just not the case and the AVDC wants you to consider the following reasons not to choose an anesthesia free dental for your pet:

Scaling (scraping surface of the tooth with an instrument) the plaque and tartar from the outside surfaces of the teeth does not remove the plaque and bacteria from beneath your pet’s gumline and does not decrease the risk of your pet getting periodontal disease. Consider this, the same level of “gross” build up you see on your pet’s teeth, is also thriving beneath their gumline where you can’t see it or the damage it’s doing. Cleaning and scaling below the gum line is most important because it’s where periodontal disease is most active. This can’t be done without anesthesia.
Anesthesia free dental cleanings require your pet to be restrained while the visible tartar is removed. In some cases this is stressful and painful. It is not fair to put your beloved dog or cat through the process without anesthesia.
There are few visible signs of periodontal infection before it has progressed too far to treat and save teeth. Anesthesia is needed to best evaluate periodontal disease with the help of a dental probe and x-ray examination to truly sense what is going on below the gumline.
A thorough oral health exam can’t be done on a dog or cat that is awake. During a thorough oral health exam, all surfaces of your pet’s mouth are evaluated and radiographs are taken. This allows a veterinarian to identify painful problems including broken teeth, periodontal disease or even oral tumors. An oral health exam and x-rays can’t be done on an awake pet.
Teeth that have been scaled and not polished are a prime breeding ground for more bacteria growth which perpetuates oral disease.
Anesthesia free dental cleanings provide no benefit to your pet and do not prevent periodontal disease at any level. In fact, it gives you a false sense of security as a pet owner that because the teeth look whiter that they are healthier.
The costs of anesthesia free dental cleanings are cheap to begin with. The ultimate costs to both your wallet, and pet’s dental health, are far more of an expense.

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Posted in: Dog Health, Pet Health, pet safety, Westminster Veterinary Group

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Easter Safety: Keeping pets safe over the Easter holiday ( Pet Poison Hotline)

Chocolate poisoning occurs during this holiday.  Reminder to keep dogs away from Easter basket goodies. If your pet does ingest chocolate here are the steps to follow immediately. 

What to do if your pet gets poisoned
 Your pet has just injested something toxic. What do you do? First, take a deep breath. The more calm, cool, and collected you are, the sooner you
can seek the correct medical attention. Then get a handle on the situation by taking the following steps:
1. Remove your pet from the area. Make sure no other pets or children are exposed to the area, and safely remove any poisonous material.
2. Check to make sure your pet is breathing normally and acting fine otherwise.
3. Collect a sample of the material, along with the packaging, vial, or container. You’ll need that information to help your veterinarian or a pet poison expert assess the situation.
4. Don’t give your dog any milk, food, salt, oil, or any other home remedies. Doing so will likely complicate the poisoning.
5. Never induce vomiting without talking to your veterinarian or a pet poison expert—doing so may be detrimental or contraindicated. Sometimes,to induce vomiting in dogs, it may be recommended to give hydrogen peroxide. However, hydrogen peroxide won’t help induce vomitingin cats, and stronger veterinary
 prescription medications are necessary to get your cat to vomit up any toxins.
6. Get help. Program your veterinarian’s phone number into your phone, as well as an emergency veterinarian’s number and a pet poison
hotline number. There are two 24-hour hotlines: Pet Poison Helpline at 800-213-6680 ($35 per call) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal’s Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435 ($65 per call).
Remember that a pet’s prognosis is always better when a toxicity is reported immediately, so don’t wait to see if your pet becomes symptomatic before calling for help. Calling right away is safer for your pet and could help you save on treatment costs in the long run. Remember that there’s a narrow window of time to decontaminate in cases of poisoning.
Dr. Michelle Russillo

Posted in: Cat Health, Chocolate, Dog Health, pet safety, Westminster Veterinary Group

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Oh, the miserable itch!

Oh, the miserable itch!

Taken from DVM 360

Itchy skin makes your pet miserable—and your pet’s relentless scratching, licking, and chewing can drive you crazy, too. Your pet may have one itchy spot, or he may tickle all over.


When you see your pet buried nose-deep in fur, frantically nibbling his skin, what’s the first thing you think of? Fleas, of course—and for a good reason.
Many pets are allergic to flea saliva and develop severe itchy reactions to flea bites. Food or inhalant allergies also cause itchy skin. Sarcoptic mange, a highly contagious skin condition of dogs, causes an intense itch accompanied by crusty lesions and hair loss. Pets who spend time outdoors are especially susceptible to ear mites, pesky parasites who take up residence in your pet’s ears, causing a ferocious itch.

What you can do at home

First, examine areas with little hair—like the abdomen and groin—for fleet-footed fleas. You may also find black
specks on his skin that look like pepper—this “flea dirt” is actually flea feces. If you get a glimpse of one of these tenacious parasites, ask your veterinarian about treatments
for your pet and your home. Your pet’s doctor also will recommend a monthly flea preventive to keep those hungry bugs from dining on your pet. If your dog or cat suffers from mildly itchy skin, a lukewarm bath and medicated anti-itch shampoo can ease your pet’s discomfort. If your pet scratches at a small area, you can apply a soothing anti-itch lotion or spray.

When to call the veterinarian

In most cases, you’ll need to take your pet to the veterinarian to diagnose and treat the cause of itching. Don’t delay, because a fierce scratching can damage
your pet’s skin in no time. Often, scratching starts a vicious cycle: ˆ e pet scratches, irritating his sensitive skin. ˆ is leads to more scratching and infection with itchy and painful sores.

What your veterinarian will do

ˆ Thee veterinarian will ask about your pet’s scratching and other symptoms and will perform a physical examination, focusing on the skin. After a flea check, the doctor may take skin scrapings to identify mange mites or an earwax sample to expose ear mites. If the veterinarian suspects ringworm, he or she also may perform a fungal culture. Your pet may need additional skin tests to identify any allergies, depending on the severity of the condition. If your veterinarian suspects your pet is allergic to an ingredient in its food, he or she will recommend an exclusion feeding trial: You simply switch your pet to a special hypoallergenic diet for several weeks to see if he stops scratching. Be sure to follow the feeding trial instructions to the letter.
The veterinarian will not only treat the cause of the itching, he or she may prescribe antihistamines or corticosteroids to control the scratching. Special shampoos and creme rinses also can help relieve your pet’s itchiness. Once the itch is gone, your pet can focus on more important things—like spending time with you!

Posted in: Cat Health, pet safety, Westminster Veterinary Group

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FAQ PNA Prevention “Is feeding dry food the best way to prevent dental disease in dogs and cats?” – Pet Nutrition Alliance

FAQ PNA Prevention “Is feeding dry food the best way to prevent dental disease in dogs and cats?”



  • No. Unfortunately, there is a lack of long-term research providing evidence that any one method, including a dry dental diet, is “best” for preventing dental disease (i.e. gingivitis, periodontitis).1
  • Dental disease is even more complicated because there isn’t a clear relationship between the amount of plaque and calculus on the teeth and the severity of the gingivitis or periodontitis associated with it.1 Simply, a reduction of plaque and calculus may not result in a significant reduction of gingivitis or periodontitis for dogs and cats.
  • Therefore, mechanical debridement from foods or products that claim to simply reduce plaque or calculus formation cannot guarantee the prevention of dental disease.1
  • Current recommendations:
    • Research shows that tooth brushing is the most effective way to prevent dental disease. It provides mechanical stimulation of the gingiva, which enhances proliferation of fibroblasts and collagen synthesis. Brushing contributes to good dental health by preventing periodontal pocket formation and promoting epithelial attachment.1 Twice-daily brushing shows the greatest benefit in dogs,2 although once-daily brushing in dogs is adequate.3 For cats, there is evidence to suggest that daily tooth brushing reduces gingivitis.4
    • If a pet owner is unable or unwilling to brush their pet’s teeth daily, then it may require a combination of therapeutic strategies to reduce the risk of dental disease.5
      • For dogs: feed diets clinically proven to reduce plaque and calculus development and provide multiple chewing activities.5
      • For cats: feed diets clinically proven to reduce plaque and calculus formation6 and provide chewing activities.1
    • Dental diets may use a number of strategies to reduce dental disease. Mechanisms that might be used  are:
      • Mechanical abrasion
      • Inhibition of calculus formation (i.e. sodium hexametaphosphate-HMP)
      • Antibacterials (sodium ascorbyl phosphate)
      • Plaque retardants
  • Regulation:
    • Foods that claim to cleanse, freshen, or whiten teeth by mechanical action or abrasive action do not need pre-market approval and are permissible by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).7
    • If these types of claims are achieved by any other way (i.e. drugs), they must be approved by the FDA prior to going to market.
  • Options for oral health products:
    • The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) lists pet diets and products which may help in oral health.8 The VOHC provides a current list at


  1. Cave N. Nutritional Management of Gastrointestinal Disease. In: Fascetti AJ, Delaney SJ eds. Applied Veterinary Clinical Nutrition 1st ed. Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell; 2012: 188-192.
  2. Yamamoto T, Tomofuji T, Ekuni D, Sakamoto T, Horiuchi M, Watanabe T. Effects of toothbrushing frequency on proliferation of gingival cells and collagen synthesis. J Clin Periodontol. 2004 Jan;31(1):40-4.
  3. Horiuchi M, Yamamoto T, Tomofuji T, Ishikawa A, Morita M, Watanabe T. Toothbrushing promotes gingival fibroblast proliferation more effectively than removal of dental plaque. J Clin Periodontol. 2002 Sep;29(9):791-5.
  4. Ingham KE, Gorrel C, Blackburn JM, Farnsworth W. The effect of toothbrushing on periodontal disease in cats. J Nutr. 2002 Jun;132(6 Suppl 2):1740S-1S.
  5. Harvey CE, Shofer FS, Laster L. Correlation of diet, other chewing activities and periodontal disease in North American client-owned dogs. J Vet Dent. 1996 Sep; 13(3):101-5.
  6. Vrieling HE, Theyse LF, van Winkelhoff AJ, Dijkshoorn NA, Logan EI, Picavet P. Effectiveness of feeding large kibbles with mechanical cleaning properties in cats with gingivitis. Tijdschr Diergeneeskd. 2005 Mar 1;130(5):136-40.
  7. Association of American Feed Control Officials. 2011 Official Publication. Association of American Feed Control Officials, Inc. 2011: 144-145.
  8. Helping to Control the Most Common Disease in Dogs and Cats: Periodontal Disease (Gum Disease). Veterinary Oral Health Council Web site. Accessed April 26, 2013.

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Coyote Alert!

Coyote Alert! We are receiving reports of increased coyote sightings, coyote attacks, and dog disappearances from a number of different sources right now including Next Door. Per our prior warning post, we are now in coyote breeding season which lasts from January to early March. Coyotes are more aggressive during the breeding season as they defend their den/home territories against other coyotes, foxes, and, unfortunately, domestic dogs. Recent weather patterns may have also contributed to the increased coyote activity. Please be very careful during this time and keep yourselves, your families, and your pets safe.

Posted in: Cat Health, Dog Health, Exotic Pet Health, News, Pet Health, pet safety, Westminster Veterinary Group

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Safety for your pet, think insurance.

A rapidly growing pet concentrated industry is the insurance sector for pets. This occurs for a few reasons; more pets pet households, increased homeownership, revenue increases, and better product introduction to the market. Industry insurance products now include accident and illness, accident only, dog insurance with wellness plans included, cat insurance with wellness plans, and specific dog or cat policies.

There are many good reasons to get pet insurance. First, the insurance does help to curb the cost of care especially if there is an emergency. Some of the new policies come with emergency and wellness care coverage up to 90% reimbursement on veterinary care expenses. Also, insurance products now offer alternative deductible plans annually charging $100 -$250 or incident specific deductible plans. There is now more value in the plans offered and not as many limits of reimbursement.

Things to consider before purchasing

  • How much does the plan cost?
  • Is wellness included?
  • What type of care is included (general, emergency, chronic conditions, and specialists)?
  • How will reimbursements work?

The downside of any insurance is the exclusion of pre-existing conditions and some breed specific conditions. Although, with thorough research of the plans offered by many companies like Nationwide, Trupanion, American Society for the Prevention Cruelty to Animals, VPI, Petplan, and Embrace; an owner can reap the rewards of being prepared to care for their pet in an emergency or healthy life. See our insurance resource page for help in deciding what pet insurance is best for you.


American Pet Products Association (2015) Pet Industry Market Size & Ownership Statistics.

Pet Product New International (2015)

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