Taking care of our oral health is such a normal part of our everyday routine that it can be easy to forget that our pets rely on us to help them with their oral care.
We all know the drill. Flossing and brushing happen in the wee hours of the morning before our coffee or after a long day at work and it may not even cross our minds to check the mouths of our pets. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, over fifty percent of our pets will suffer from some type of oral health issue with their risk increasing as they age. Estimates show that the cost to fix these issues is over three times the cost of prevention. For most pet owners, the idea that their four legged buddies might suffer pain is all they need to know to act.
So what are some practical things that we can do that will fit into our daily routines to help ensure the oral health of our pets?
- Learn what is normal and what is not normal inside your pet’s mouth
If you haven’t done so already, speak with your vet about what your pet’s mouth and teeth should look like. Then, after you know what to look for, incorporate inspections into your pet care routine. During these inspections, be sure to smell your pet’s breath as changes in this area may aid in the identification of oral hygiene issues or possible illness. This can be done once a week or you can chose to make it a regular part of your day. Generally, with time and a soothing touch, a pet will acclimate to this process and be a willing participant in this new routine.
- Learn how to properly brush your pet’s teeth
There are many options, but none are as good as brushing your pet’s teeth. Idealistically, this would be done daily just as with our own teeth. There are some wonderful video tutorials for both dogs and cats online that are only a few minutes long. It’s important to brush with pet approved toothpaste. Don’t have time to run to the store? No problem. There are multiple choices online. You can have a kit delivered right to your door that contains a toothbrush designed for your pet as well as toothpaste in delicious flavors including beef, poultry, and mint. Now we all know that life happens, there won’t always be time to brush. Don’t worry, there are many things that can be done to supplement a tooth brushing routine.
- Supplement with other options
Professional cleanings: pets should have at least one professional cleaning a year. This is usually done by your vet under general anesthesia, but for those animals who cannot be anesthetized, there are other options which your vet can discuss with you.
Plaque remover water additives: while this may sound a bit alarming, many pet owners successfully use water additives to help with pet oral care (these usually have the added benefit of helping with bad breath). These water additives cost mere pocket change per dosage and are well worth the benefits. Simply add the recommended amount to fresh water daily and you and your pet are all set.
Plague removing foams and gels: These foams and gels are also easy to administer to your pet. Some people use them instead of pet toothpaste as they find that their animals think they are getting a treat. Many choose to use a “finger brush” instead of a toothbrush or if you simply don’t have time, you can squeeze a bit onto your finger and let your pet lick it off.
Oral care dental wipes: wipes epitomize convenience. These can be stowed in a suitcase for a weekend trip, used to get those hard to reach spots in a pet’s mouth, or used for an older dog or cat who may need a gentle touch.
Oral hygiene rinse: for those pet owners who are confident enough, this product is an amazing option for supplementation with brushing. We all know the many health benefits of rinsing after brushing so it isn’t hard to understand why this same practice is beneficial for our pets.
As you can see, there are many options when it comes to making sure that our furry family members enjoy the comfort and happiness that comes with a healthy mouth. Always remember to speak to your vet about your pet’s individual needs before implementing a new care routine. However, once you have the green light, you and your family will be feeling good about your decision to have this additional way of showing your pets how much you care.
In October you mostly likely realized it was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to raise awareness of this disease. In addition to raising awareness, it was also a reminder to be vigilant in self checking for any signs irregularities. You saw pink on football players, celebrities, media personalities, and your friends and neighbors as a great reminder that early detection is key.
Breast Cancer Awareness also includes our beloved dogs. While we do not refer to it as “Breast” cancer as they do not have breasts, it is called Mammary Cancer and it is very real. Cancer is the number one killer of dogs. It is estimated that 50% of dogs over the age of ten will experience some type of cancer. As with humans early detection is the key!
-Mammary gland tumors are greatly increased when your dog is not spayed. Ensure that when you get your pup you have her spayed ASAP.
-Look for lumps and bumps under or on the skin. Simply rub your hands over your dog while petting them, keeping an eye out for anything out of the ordinary.
-Stick with good quality dog food and exercise. This will help the chances of your dog steering clear of tumors, as well as fatty deposits, which are quite often confused for tumors by concerned pet owners.
-Ensure you’re taking your dog in for regular checkups. Go no less then once or twice a year dependent upon your dogs situation. If you spot anything unusual, you should get in to see the vet immediately.
-Should a tumor be detected, work closely with your vet on options and treatments. Treatment options will rely heavily upon your dog’s age, current health and living situation. Most tumors can be treated by surgical removal.
So don’t let the awareness raised in October fall on deaf ears! Early detection is key for humans and dogs alike when it comes to preventing cancer!
When the word Feral is used to describe a cat, what does this mean?
We hear the term thrown often but many people don’t know what it really means. Basically, it is when a cat is untamed, wild, and free, unlike our domesticated cats kept as pets.
How does a cat become feral?
There are a number of ways in which a cat, domesticated or not, can become a feral animal. They could have been dumped by their owners in which case they are left to fend for themselves. They could have been born into the feral world by a parent who had been living on the streets. They could have escaped from their home and become lost. There are a large amount of cats that are living on the street. Sometimes called Alley Cats, they are wild and untamed, as they need to be in order to live on the streets and survive. Their natural born instincts set in and they become undomesticated, wild. This is via no fault of their own.
How is awareness being raised?
Last month, National Feral Cat Awareness Day happened on October 16th. The goal of this day is to raise awareness, enlist support, and lift up the numbers in the volunteer role. Feral cats need our help and there are a variety of ways in which you can support this cause.
Many rescue groups favor the TNR program when it comes to helping reduce the population of feral cats. TNR stands for Trap, Neuter & Release. This method is touted as being a fantastic way, in which we can not only show kindness and help the feral population, but actually make a dent in the population numbers. When the cats are neutered this cuts down drastically with the reproduction of litters and additional cats being born into the feral role.
Knoxville Support for Feral Cats
Locally, the Feral Feline Friends of East Tennessee, is a local organization dedicated to the care of feral cats. According to Feral Feline Friends, members of their group work on a volunteer basis to feed, water, and provide medical care for hundreds of feral cats in Knoxville and surrounding areas. So far this year, they have trapped, neutered, and released over 1200 cats and kittens in the area! They meet the 2nd Tuesday of every month at Mr.Gatti’s Pizza, 6909 Kingston Pike at 7pm, and any one is welcome to join to find out more. They need fosters and volunteers! More information can be found on their website.
Every year approximately 2.7 Million cats and dogs are euthanized due to the fact that there is simply no more room to house them. They are not sick, aggressive or non-home-able, there are just too many unwanted animals. Despite the valiant efforts of local animal shelters and rescue organizations they are continually flooded with pets.
There are many reasons that so many animals are euthanized ranging from financial, to relocation, to divorce. But the reason does not matter, nor does it help these poor innocent animals find homes. There are so many wonderful reasons to consider adopting versus shopping when you’re thinking about adding a new pet to your family.
Here are some wonderful reasons why you should Adopt vs Shop for your pets:
– It is highly likely that you will bring home a healthy pet when you visit an animal shelter or rescue. They examine and vaccinate your potential pet, not to mention neuter or spay in most cases. Their mission is to save lives and reduce the pet population. When shopping for a pet you can often will come across puppy mill dogs who were breed with profit over welfare in mind. AND the horrid conditions which most puppy mills are run is cruel, unconscionable and inhumane.
– Puppy mills are run with the dollar in mind, not your pet’s welfare. They over breed, allow the dogs to live in filthy conditions, and then ship them across the country to shops around the world. Do you know how traumatized that puppy is by the time he lands in your lap? The behavioral and medical issues that plague pet shop pups are beyond your wildest dreams.
– For those who want a certain breed, luckily there are rescues for virtually every breed imaginable. With a little research you can still save a life by adopting.
Adopt. Don’t Shop! You will be rewarded with many years of loyalty. These pets truly sense that they are being saved and you are the person providing that warm and loving fur-ever home.
It’s Deaf Dog Awareness Week!
This amazing event is held during the last week of September, and this year Deaf Dog Awareness began last Sunday and wraps up this coming weekend.
The event is sponsored by Petfinder and the Deaf Dog Education Action Fund, and its sole purpose is to generate awareness of our furry friends who are deaf. It is also a great opportunity for these pups to be recognized as fully loveable, trainable and trustworthy pets. They may have special needs due to their inability to hear, however they are still so worthy of our love and care, making outstanding pets. SO many deaf dogs are killed each and every year simply because of this impairment.
There are a variety of ways in which a dog may end up deaf:
-Untreated ear infections
Some of the above causes can be treated if you work with your vet to avoid hearing loss. Some dogs are just born this way. If you work with your deaf pet and have patience you can have a wonderful friend! A deaf pet is just as easily trained as their hearing litter mates but only as long as humans let go of the myths and stereotypes associated with deaf dogs.
All dogs are amazing at learning visual commands. In fact, most dog trainers say that we use TOO many words when talking to our dogs. Most deaf dogs can learn to be desensitized to being startled due to not being able to hear people, pets and cars etc., and approach them. Most dogs will never act aggressively due to their hearing loss – in fact, it’s quite unheard of. When selecting a deaf pet that will be around children, the selection process is no different then when choosing a hearing pet.
There are several ways you can help during this week long event as well as long after:
-Promote Deaf Dog Awareness week.
-Help raise awareness during the rest of the year.
-All pet rescues are always in need of food, bedding, and other supplies!
-Adopt a friend in need as there are so many rescues who are dedicated to homing these pups.
-Learn sign language and use your skills with all dogs.
We’d love to hear your stories of deaf dogs that have entered your life, and help spread the positives about adoption of hearing impaired pets. There are so many things you can do to show your support. There is no reason why these pups cannot know love and kindness and find a “furever” home.