Dental Month

February is National Dental month in the Veterinary world. We wanted to take just a minute to let you know why regular dental cleanings on your fur baby are important.

Each day plaque, the soft white material, accumulates on the teeth. If this plaque is not removed, it becomes tartar. Tartar is the “cement-like” yellow material you may see on your pet’s teeth.

Plaque and tartar contain bacteria that circulates through the bloodstream, therefore going through each and every organ in the body. These bacteria can “stick” to organs, including the valves of the heart. Over time, even healthy animals can be affected. This bacteria and tartar also cause halitosis or bad breath.

When the tartar accumulates, it makes a heavy coating over the teeth. If left untreated, this tartar will push on the gingival above/below the teeth, causing gingival recession and gingivitis, the first stage of periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is defined as inflammation of the tissue and boney structures supporting the tooth. If left untreated, the tooth will have no structure holding it in place, therefore requiring surgical extraction.

During a dental cleaning, also known as a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment, our licensed veterinary technicians clean the teeth, examine the entire oral cavity, and take radiographs. Once the cleaning and oral examination are complete, our veterinarian also does an oral exam and reviews radiographs for any signs of periodontal disease. Once they have completed their exams, a treatment plan is recommended.

What can be done to help? Starting a routine home dental program! There are multiple options available including brushing, adding a water supplement, sprinkling powder on food, or using chews impregnated with an antimicrobial enzyme. Brushing daily is the best option but we are aware not every dog or cat will tolerate this immediately! Like anything else we want our pet to do, it takes time and training!

As with anything, do not hesitate to call and speak with one of our staff members about products, cleanings, or training tips!

Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is alive and growing in pets, children and adults! In fact, the number of adults and children that have been diagnosed with Lyme disease is now receiving the attention of Virginia’s Governor who has appointed a task force to help deal with the Lyme disease epidemic. During the task force hearing in Fairfax this week, Governor McDonnell has designated May as Lyme Awareness Month.

All of us, at Aldie Veterinary Hospital, are very concerned about the growing number of reported Lyme disease cases in dogs. The National Capital Lyme Disease Association sites that dogs are 50-100 times more likely to encounter disease-carrying ticks than people. These ticks then enter your home or come into contact with you or your children. Here is your best defense in protecting your pets and family from Lyme disease:

  • Vaccinate your dog this Spring with the Lyme vaccine.
  • Use a flea and tick control product, such as Frontline Plus on your pet YEAR ROUND.
  • Check your dogs, cats, children and yourself regularly for ticks. Make sure to examine your pet between toes, behind ears, under armpits and around tail and head as ticks like to hide in these areas.

A great resource for information about tick-borne disease in animals may be found at dogsandticks.com. In addition, we will be providing additional information regarding Lyme disease in your pet in our next issue of the Aldie Vet Pet Gazette.