Category: Blog 

Dangers of Lyme Disease

Is your dog at risk for Lyme disease? This all-too-common disease can have long-term effects, both for you and for your pet. Make sure you know what the risks are, and how you can avoid them.

What Is Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is a disease carried by ticks and transferred to an animal when the tick bites. Borrelia, a type of bacteria belonging to the Spirochete group, is responsible for the disease.
When a dog gets Lyme disease, their joints become inflamed and they may become chronically lame. When left untreated, Lyme disease can lead to kidney damage and even damage to the heart and nervous system.

Lyme disease has traditionally been seen in small pocket areas in Ontario, but those areas are expanding, making it a growing threat in the GTA. The high danger areas in Ontario are Eastern Ontario, south of the 401, Niagara and Brampton, but pets living outside of those areas are also at risk. In the United States, deer ticks who carry the disease are common in New Jersey and New York.

Which Ticks Carry Lyme Disease?

Lyme disease is most commonly carried by the Ixodes family of ticks (also known as Deer ticks or Black-Legged ticks). These ticks are hard to spot, because they are quite tiny when young, making it hard to protect your dog from bites. While this is the most common type of tick to carry the disease, research has now shown that several common types of ticks can transmit the disease. This is why tick preventative medications are so important.

Symptoms of Lyme Disease

In people, Lyme disease will create a “bull’s-eye” rash. However, in animals this rash is not present. Instead, pet owners need to look for other symptoms if their pets have been exposed to an area where ticks are common.

Recurrent lameness of the limbs is the most common symptoms of Lyme disease. This might be one limb only, or it may affect one leg, then a new leg a few days later, a condition called “shifting-leg lameness.” The joint may be sensitive to the touch or sometimes swollen and warm, and the dog may walk with a stiff, arched back.

If a dog develops kidney problems from the disease, the condition becomes even more serious. If the patient is not treated immediately it may develop into full kidney failure. Signs of kidney failure include vomiting, diarrhea, poor appetite, weight loss, increased thirst accompanied by urination, and buildup of fluid in the abdomen and limbs.

Spotting Lyme Disease

Lyme disease is often left undiagnosed in animals because of the way symptoms develop. Since dogs do not develop the rash, and the inflammation symptoms can develop weeks after the tick bites the dog, it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint Lyme disease as the cause. In fact, some dogs may have the disease for over a year before they show visible symptoms. By this time, the disease has progressed quite significantly, and treating it becomes more complicated.

If an owner or veterinarian suspects Lyme disease, it must be diagnosed using two separate blood tests. The first, an antibody test, detects the antibodies a dog’s body generates when exposed to the spirochete. The second test is a DNA test using the fluid from an affected joint.

Treating Lyme Disease

Once a dog has been diagnosed with Lyme disease, a lengthy treatment with antibiotics is necessary. Unlike other infections, Lyme disease is not easy to cure. If the infection has been in the dog’s body for a while, it will require several rounds of antibiotics, and often the need to switch from one to another is required for the treatment to be truly effective.

Danger to Owners

Lyme disease in a dog is not necessarily dangerous to the dog’s owners. You cannot catch Lyme disease from your dog. However, there is a danger to humans when a dog is carrying ticks.

When ticks become engorged and full, they will fall off the host animal. Later, when they need to eat again, they will seek a new host, they don’t care if their host is human or animal.

Also, your dog can easily transmit a tick to your home, and you, even if the tick did not actually bite the dog. It may just hitch a ride on the animal’s fur, then make itself at home in your home. Because of this risk, both to you and your dog, you need to make tick prevention a high priority in your household, especially if your pets spend a lot of time outside.

Preventing Ticks Is Not Hard

Preventing Lyme disease and other tick-transmitted diseases means preventing tick bites. This is not as hard as you might think. First, avoid letting your dog roam where ticks are common. Wooded and grassy areas are common places where you might see ticks. Next, if your dog is outdoors for a long time, inspect him for ticks daily, removing any by hand. Finally, and most importantly, talk to your veterinarian about tick preventative products and they can recommend the most appropriate option for your pet.

If you feel that your dog is at high risk for Lyme disease there is a vaccination available. This vaccine is especially important in areas where Lyme disease is common, but it should always be used in conjunction with tick prevention, because ticks can carry other diseases as well. Also, the Lyme disease vaccine does not protect you, as the owner, from ticks your dog may bring into your home.

Lyme disease is life-changing disease for both you and your pet. Do what you can to avoid it, and know what the symptoms are, so you can protect all members of your family.

What Can you Expect from a Dental Cleaning/Exam?

We recommend for your pet to have a dental cleaning/checkup at least once a year but, do you know what to expect when you bring them in for a cleaning? What additional measurements are taken during the dental process?

When your pet comes in for their dental cleaning/exam, be prepared for him/her to be put under a general anesthesia and incubation.  While they are under anesthesia we will be able to perform a thorough job.

In addition, your pet may also undergo the following procedures:

  • Pre-anesthetic Exam: This examination will include blood tests, urine tests, electrocardiography, and X-Rays. The point of the exam is to ensure your pet is healthy enough to go under general anesthesia.
  • Anesthesia Monitoring: While he/she is under anesthesia, his/her vital signs, i.e. body temperature, heart rate, and respiration will be monitored and recorded. This helps ensure that they are safe while under anesthesia.
  • Dental Radiographs: It is important to get regular X-rays done to have your pet’s oral health checked. X-rays also help us detect any abnormalities that can not be seen through a physical exam. An X-ray can also confirm if there is a need for any extractions when teeth are loose or badly infected.
  • Scaling and Polishing: Similar to our own dental cleaning, we will remove plaque and calculus from your pet’s teeth. In addition, polishing with a special paste smooths out scratches to the tooth enamel.
  • Fluoride/sealants: Anti-plaque substance like fluoride treatment and/or a barrier sealant, will help strengthen and desensitize teeth and discourage the development of future plaque.

Taking care of your pet’s dental health will help him/her live a longer, healthier life.

Do you Know What Periodontal Disease is?

Did you know that poor dental hygiene can result in periodontal disease? Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth that goes through progressive stages.

Periodontal disease begins with plaque. When bacteria attaches to the teeth and dies, it becomes rigid by the calcium in saliva. Tartar is a hard, rough substance that is then formed which allows more plaque to accumulate.

Plaque is a huge issue that can lead to gingivitis, and inflammation of the gums. The gums will become red and swollen and be prone to bleeding. Professional cleaning is needed as plaque and calculus develop below the gum line. If the buildup continues to go unchecked, infection can form around the root of the tooth.

The tissues surrounding the tooth can become destroyed in the final stages of periodontal disease. In this final stage, the bony socket holding the tooth erode, and the tooth becomes loose. This can be a very painful process for your pet.

The good news is that these problems can be averted with proper dental care.

Top 5 Reasons to Get your Pet’s Teeth Checked

There are many reasons behind why your pet’s dental health is important. Here are the top 5 reasons why their dental health should be checked on a yearly basis.

  1. Your pet is at risk for developing a disease or condition that is related to their dental health. i.e. periodontal disease or heart conditions.
  1. Gum irritation and tartar buildup can happen when baby teeth won’t come out.
  2. Your pet needs regular dental care just like you do.
  1. Dogs and cats are very good at hiding pain. You may never know when they have a serious dental health problem. Routine checkups are the only way to tell if there is a health issues.
  2. Teeth wear out. Your pet’s teeth may be tough but they do wear out. It’s important to keep regular dental hygiene up so that he/she can continue having healthy gums and teeth.

Taking care of you pet’s dental health will ensure a happy, healthy life.

Dental Hygiene Myths

As part of February’s dental awareness month, we thought it would be a great idea to go through the common myths most clients believe when it comes to their cat/dog’s oral health.

We know that a lot of pet owners think that their pet will be fine without regular dental cleanings/exams. This is untrue, pets need just as much dental attention as us humans do.

Myths convince pet owners that annual cleanings and checkups are unnecessary. Here are the top 4 myths that every pet owner should stop believing.

  1. Certain bones and treats are good for my pet’s teeth and help prevent plaque build up so it’s unnecessary for him/her to have a cleaning.

Some bones can cause fractured teeth and cause injuries. Treats like kibble help remove plaque from the top of your pet’s teeth but what about the barrier of their teeth and gums? There’s no treat or toy that can clean the hard to reach area in your pet’s mouth. Gums are very important to clean in order to avoid gingivitis and diseases like periodontal disease.

  1. My pet’s breath smells because he/she is suppose to have bad breath.

Bad breath is common in cats and dogs but very bad breath can be a cause for concern. A cat/dog’s breath can begin to smell poorly if his/her gums are in poor condition or if there’s gingivitis build up.

  1. I’ll know if my pet is experiencing pain in his/her mouth if he/she doesn’t eat.

Although we think of our pets as our furry babies, we have to remember that cats and dogs are animals and animals have different instincts when it comes to survival. Cats and dogs generally hide their pain until it’s completely unbearable. He/she will continue to eat even if they’re in pain. If your pet isn’t eating at all the pain has become very severe and can possibly be the outcome of a serious issue. You can prevent your pet from experiencing severe pain through routine cleanings/exams.

  1. I don’t have to brush my pet’s teeth.

Just like humans, cats and dogs need daily oral cleaning. After an oral examination the vet will explain to you how to clean your pet’s teeth at home.

It’s time to stop believing all the myths and begin taking care of your pet’s needs.

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