Dental & Senior Care

Dental Care for Your Pet

One of the best preventive care practices is brushing your pet's teeth.  Dogs and cats are susceptible to gum disease.  As they get older, gingivitis sets in and this can progress to severe gum infections and bacteria that not only cause bad breath, but that can also can spread through the blood stream and cause heart, lung, or kidney infections.  Taking a few minutes at least once each week to brush your pet's teeth may actually extend your pet's life.

Don't try to open your pet's mouth. This usually causes such a struggle that you'll decide tooth brushing just isn't worth the effort!  Most serious gum disease occurs on the outside surfaces of the teeth because the tongue helps clean the inside surfaces. Simply lift the lips and brush the outside surfaces the best you can. Don't try to do a great job' the first time. Work your way up to being an effective tooth brusher.

Don't use human toothpaste your pet will swallow it and fluoride can build up in his body. Use commercially available pet toothpaste or make your own at home using baking soda and water. Use baking soda only in small amounts, and don't use it at all if your pet has a heart condition. It may help to start with garlic salt and water on the brush at first because most pets like the taste. Later, try using baking soda flavored with some garlic salt.

Child-sized toothbrushes work well for most pets. Also available are toothbrushes that slip over your finger. Some owners find it easier to use a gauze pad or washcloth. All of these methods are effective.


Senior Care Visits for Your Pet

Age is not a disease, but it brings with it the wear that time produces.  At 8 years of age, most cats and dogs are passing into middle age: equivalent to our 45 years. At this time of their lives, just as we do, they benefit from a more extensive physical examination.

Early detection is the key to a healthy old age.  During the last twenty years, through new vaccines, better nutrition and improved dental and medical care, the veterinary profession has extended the life span of the average pet by 25%. Early detection of changes in your pet's body will allow us to make adjustments in the medical and nutritional care of your pet to correct or delay disease.  Early detection of anemia, cancer, heart disease, liver disease, protein imbalance, kidney disease, diabetes, blood dyscrasias , thyroid disease, and glaucoma are all possible through physical examinations and laboratory testing.

We recommend that your pet be given a thorough senior physical exam which will include chest radiographs, an ECG (electrocardiogram), a blood test for a chemistry panel, complete blood count, thyroid test,  tonometric exam for glaucoma,  urinalysis, and fecal exam for parasites. When your pet comes to HVH for a senior care visit, you will receive a 20% discount on the Senior Care package price.  Charges for routine services done the same day will receive a 20% discount.

We prefer to schedule a morning appointment for your pet and you to see the doctor and discuss any problems. You leave your pet with us for a few hours, so that we may perform the necessary tests.  The doctor will call you when all results are final (usually 2 to 5 days after testing) to discuss your pet's health.

Please call to schedule your pet's senior work-up today.

Caring for Your Senior Dog

A dog that is age 8 years or older ought to be considered a senior citizen.  Small dogs age more slowly than larger ones, so an 8-year-old Golden Retriever is considered older than an 8-year-old Yorkie.  There are several things you can do to help keep an aging dog healthy,.

One of the most common problems associated with aging in animals (and people, too!) is arthritis.  Most pets will eventually suffer from some degree of it.  Larger dogs will show more obvious signs because they carry more weight, but small dogs can also be affected.  If you notice signs like struggling to get up from lying down, reluctance to maneuver steps, limping, having trouble getting in or out of the car, it may indicate arthritis, and a visit to the vet is recommended.

Nutritional supplements can help protect the joints so putting your dog on a premium diet formulated for older dogs can be helpful.  There are several diets that offer nutritional supplements to protect the joints.  Many of these diets are also formulated with antioxidants to help protect against cancer.  They are nutritionally balanced to meet the needs of an older dog.  Ask your vet for a recommendation!

If your dog does have signs of arthritis, he may not want to go for walks like he used to.  However, allowing these dogs to become sedentary is a mistake.  Short frequent walks will help keep your dog's weight down and will keep his joints from stiffening, compounding the problem. A pain reliever may be in order to reduce pain from exercise.

As your dog ages, there are some early warning signs of disease that you'll want to watch for.  Excessive drinking and urinating can signal kidney disease, diabetes, or even cancer.  A change in appetite or activity level may also signal an underlying problem.  If these signs are noted, a visit to the vet is definitely in order.

Old Dog Cognitive Dysfunction is a condition similar to senility in humans.  Signs include not responding to family members as usual, general confusion, and house soiling problems.  There is medication available to help these dogs, so tell your vet if you notice these signs.  An observant owner can be a wonderful asset to help an older pet stay healthy!

Caring for Your Senior Cat

A cat that is 8 years or older ought to be considered a senior citizen.  Older cats need special care, and they need to be watched carefully for early warning signs of disease.  A senior diet is a good idea for older cats.  These diets are formulated to meet the nutritional needs of older animals, and they may also be fortified with antioxidants to help prevent cancer.

Older cats may be more susceptible to extremes of temperature and more susceptible to infection.  Keep them indoors and away from other animals as much as possible.  A yearly examination and keeping vaccinations current are important thing you can do to keep your older cat healthy because they increase the chance of early discovery of problems and maintain a regimen of preventive care.

Watch for signs that could indicate a problem.  Drinking and urinating excessively can signal diabetes, kidney disease, and even cancer.   A voracious appetite and hyperactivity can be a sign of hyperthyroid disease.  Weight loss or changes in appetite are other symptoms that warrant a trip to the veterinarian.  Many diseases are very treatable if discovered early.  Be an observant pet owner, and you can maximize the chances of a long, healthy life for your cat.