The veterinarians and staff at the Irving Pet Hospital are pleased to provide you with an online newsletter. This fun and fact-filled newsletter is updated on a regular basis.

Included in the newsletter are articles pertaining to pet care, information on our animal hospital, as well as news on the latest trends and discoveries in veterinary medicine.

Please enjoy the newsletter!

Current Newsletter Topics

February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Dental care is vital to your pet's health. If you've already established a dental care program for your pet, you're off to a great start. But if your pet hasn't received a dental exam from your veterinarian, it's time to get started. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, the perfect time to schedule a dental exam for your pet and develop a home care regimen for your best friend.

Why is dental care so important for your pet? Periodontal disease is the number one diagnosed problem in pets. By the age of two, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease in one form or another. The buildup of plaque and tartar on your pet's teeth leads to bacterial infections that can enter the bloodstream and infect other parts of your pet's body. Periodontal disease has been linked to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, osteoporosis and other problems.

The good news is that periodontal disease is easily prevented. Regular dental cleanings and a home dental care regimen can eliminate the plaque and tartar that lead to gum disease and oral infections. During a dental cleaning, your veterinarian also performs a complete oral examination of your pet. This includes screening for oral cancer, broken teeth and cavities. Spotting these problems early on makes them easier to treat and improves your pet's overall oral health.

Your pet's dental cleaning is more involved than the same process you go through at your dentist's office. Anesthesia is required to keep your pet still and comfortable during the procedure. Because of this, your pet undergoes a thorough physical examination before each dental cleaning. Laboratory blood tests, as well as other diagnostic procedures are also used to screen for potential problems and risks before anesthesia is administered. Using these results, your veterinarian develops a safe anesthetic protocol specifically for your pet.

A Cat's Teeth Before and After a Dental Cleaning

During a dental cleaning, tartar is removed from your pet's teeth with a hand scaler. Next, a periodontal probe is used to check for pockets under the gumline - where periodontal disease and bad breath start. An ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above the gumline and a curette is used to clean the teeth under the gumline and in the crevices. Finally, the teeth are polished and an anti-bacterial solution is applied to help delay future tartar build-up.

Dental care doesn't end in your veterinarian's office. Brushing your pet's teeth at home is an added level of protection against gum disease. In order to be most effective, brushing must be done at least three times a week; however, daily brushing is ideal. Brushing your pet's teeth can be supplemented with antiseptic rinses. Some pet foods and treats are also effective in preventing plaque and tartar buildup. However, there is no substitute for regular brushing and professional dental cleanings.

Call your veterinary hospital to schedule a dental examination and cleaning for your pet today. Your best friend will thank you!

Five Common Litter Box Mistakes to Avoid

If your cat is like most, he or she probably possesses rigid standards when it comes to its private bathroom quarters. Cleaning needs to be routine, the location needs to be ‘purr-fect,’ and the litter better be up to par. To ensure your cat utilizes its litter box regularly and properly, avoid these five common mistakes:

1. The Wrong Box – Most cats prefer more space rather than barely enough. Your cat should be able to stand and sit to do his or her business without being crowded or hanging over any edges. Sidewalls should be of a height your cat can manage stepping over and a hooded litter box can create a dark, odor-trapped environment your cat may not enjoy.

2. The Wrong Spot – Most cats don’t require a litter box overlooking a stream or active backyard birdfeeder, but the location of their bathroom does matter. The spot should be quiet, private, uninterrupted, and not too far away from their regular hangout if there is only one in your large home.

3. The Wrong Litter – Your cat probably won’t hassle you to buy the brand it saw on a television commercial, but they often have preferences when it comes to heavily perfumed litters or those with different textures. Their sensitive noses may be driven away by scents designed to suit human tastes rather than their own.

4. Too Dirty – Felines are cleanly creatures and don’t enjoy reusing dirty litter. Boxes should be scooped at least once daily and cleaned thoroughly at least once a week.

5. Too Few – If you have multiple cats, you should maintain a litter box for each – and maybe even one extra. Some cats will agree to sharing, but this is the exception rather than the rule. Some cats even require two boxes, one for each separate duty.

Becoming familiar with your cat’s, or cats’, unique litter box preferences will make for a more adjusted, happy, and healthy pet. Should your cat ever begin to start urinating or defecating outside of its litter box for unknown reasons, it could be the result of a behavior or health concern. A consultation with your veterinarian will help quickly rule out one or the other.

Home Dental Care For Your Pet

In order for any dental program to work properly, home care follow-up is essential. Brushing your pet's teeth is the single most important procedure you can do to maintain good oral health. If performed regularly, daily brushing will dramatically increase the interval between teeth cleaning appointments.

Plaque is constantly being made and deposited in the mouth. Humans have a buildup of plaque in the morning. This accumulation of plaque makes our breath smell bad. Proper dental care, for dogs as well as humans, can keep plaque buildup under control. People brush their teeth several times daily to remove plaque — why not our pets? The goal of dental home care is to remove plaque from tooth surfaces and under the gum line before it mineralizes into calculus, a process that occurs within days of a teeth cleaning. Success depends on the owner's ability to brush the pet's teeth, as well as the dog or cat's acceptance of the process. True oral cleanliness can only be achieved through the mechanical action of toothbrush bristles above and below the gum line.

Home care is best started at a young age, before the adult teeth erupt. The younger the animal is, the more likely he or she is to accept it. Your veterinarian may discuss the advantages of home dental care at the time of your pet's first vaccinations. Daily brushing not only keeps your pet's teeth clean and healthy, it also enhances the bond between you and your pet.

A misconception is that hard food keeps pets' teeth clean. Some believe that when their dog or cat chews on hard food or biscuits, mineral deposits are broken down and the teeth stay clean. This is not true. Granted, animals on soft diets accumulate plaque more readily than those on dry foods, but the only way to keep teeth clean above and below the gum line is by daily brushing.

If you are unsure of how to brush your pet's teeth, you may want to ask a veterinary hospital staff member for instructions or watch this video by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Proper brushing technique involves applying the bristles at a 45-degree angle to the gums. Use small circular motions around the outside of the teeth, being sure to get the bristles under the gum line. It is not as important to brush the inside of the teeth, as dogs and cats do not accumulate tartar on the insides of their teeth.

The most important area to keep plaque and tartar from accumulating is under the gum line. Adding products such as Oxyfresh to the drinking water or rubbing the teeth with dentifrice impregnated pads may help in home care, but it's necessary to understand that periodontal disease begins below the free margin of the gum line.

Getting Your Pet to Accept Tooth Brushing

• Start with a healthy comfortable mouth - Untreated problems can cause pain and a non-compliant patient. Dental pathology must be cared for first. If you suspect that your pet has an accumulation of tartar, a painful mouth (he pulls away each time you touch his head or jaw), bad breath, or a problem chewing, drinking or swallowing, a veterinary dental exam is in order.

• Choose a proper toothbrush and toothpaste - Toothbrushes have bristles that reach under the gum line and clean the space that surrounds each tooth. Plaque accumulates in this space. Devices such as gauze pads, sponge swabs, or cotton swabs remove plaque above the gum line, but cannot adequately clean the space below the gum line.

• The size of the toothbrush you choose is important - There are specific brushes for mouths of long muzzled dogs, as well as small brushes for cats. Each dog or cat must have his or her own toothbrush. Sharing brushes may result in cross contamination of bacteria from one pet to another.

• Introduce the toothpaste and toothbrush gradually - When you sense that your pet has had enough, give him reassurance by talking and try again. Expect progress not perfection. Reward progress immediately with a treat or a play period after each cleaning session. Don't expect to brush your pet's teeth on the first try. Take time. Each pet is different. Some will be trained in one week, while others will take a month or more. The payoff is well worth the learning curve.

The type of dental home care products dispensed by your veterinarian may vary from animal to animal. Trust your veterinarian to dispense the products that are best suited to your own pet's dental needs.

Your Pup’s Pre-Poop Spinning Ritual Explained

You may have heard that all the spinning your dog does before selecting the perfect spot to do his business is actually linked to his need to properly align with the Earth’s magnetic axis. Maybe you watched your dog with a little more interest the next time you witnessed the behavior, but did you give the idea much more consideration? Did you really believe it?

Well, believe it! It was proven that dogs have magnetic sensitivity in a 2013 study published in Frontiers in Zoology. Researchers from the Czech University of Life Sciences in the Czech Republic and the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany painstakingly observed and recorded the direction in which dogs aligned themselves during nearly 2,000 individual defecations. They found that dogs have a preference for relieving themselves along a north-south axis in relation to the Earth’s magnetic field and actually avoid going the bathroom in an east-west direction.

The researchers wrote: "It is still enigmatic why the dogs do align at all, whether they do it 'consciously' (i.e., whether the magnetic field is sensorial[ly] perceived) … or whether its reception is controlled on the vegetative level (they 'feel better/more comfortable or worse/less comfortable' in a certain direction).”

Many animals, and possibly humans, have the ability to sense the Earth’s magnetic field and react to it. Some are believed to be able to tune-in to the ability more than others, explaining why some people seem to possess a natural sense of direction. Now, scientists have uncovered what may be responsible for the “magnetic sense.”

A team at China’s Peking University uncovered tiny clumps of protein that appear to align themselves with the Earth’s geomagnetic field lines like a compass. By studying cryptochromes, proteins that respond to magnetic fields and are thought to help maintain circadian rhythms of plants and animals, they discovered an iron-binding protein called MagR. MagR forms rod-like clumps with cryptochromes and it’s now thought they may be able to respond to changes in the magnetic field by signaling nearby cells. Those cells, in turn, may prompt the nervous system to give the body cues about its whereabouts. The study serves only as a possible explanation at this point, but some see it as a step in the right direction.

“The next step will be to observe how animals behave when the gene that codes for MagR is removed, which will prove if these clusters are indeed involved in the mechanism,” a Science Alert blogger stated. “If they are, and we can observe them working in humans, it's going to be mind-blowing.”

Source:Frontiers in Zoology & Science Alert

Pet Raw Food Movement

The Raw Food Movement…For Dogs?

The raw food diet is sweeping the covers of health magazines and Hollywood celebrity diets – but it doesn’t stop there. Many veterinarians and pet owners are now discussing the benefits of a raw meat diet for pets. And believers are willing to spend big bucks on it. In fact, last year, sales of commercial raw pet foods reached $100 million, representing one of the fasting-growing segments of the $19 billion US pet food market.

Can I have your attention?

The diet finds its roots in the hunt and prey model where animals in the wild eat their food raw. Producers of raw pet foods claim that cooking food kills important nutrients that are important for an animal’s diet and digestive functioning. This is exactly what actress Sharon Misik discovered when she began her two huskies on a raw diet, which she claimed to have cured their severe diarrhea problems and perpetual illnesses.

Many people have turned to the raw pet diet because of its various success stories, or due to recent stories of contamination in processed pet foods. However, this trend has some veterinarians concerned that in fact the opposite may be true. Many critics have claimed that pet owners may be exposing their animals to an increased level of parasites and pathogens in raw meet that are not beneficial to an animal’s health and longevity. But the jury is still out.

Whether your dog can benefit from a raw diet is entirely personal – but regardless of what you choose, be sure that your dog’s meals meet the appropriate safety standards, and always be monitoring your pet’s health along the way.

New Dog “Beer” has Its Patrons Barking For More

Bowser Beer is the newest doggy phenomenon to hit the gourmet pet food market, giving dog owners a chance to enjoy a brew with their four-legged friend. Jenny Brown is the brain behind this non-carbonated mixture of meat-broth and malt barley (with added glucosamine to promote joint health), which is now selling in 42 states nationwide, as well as in a select number of international markets, such as London’s Harrods department store.  These shop owners have reported noticeable spikes in doggie beer sales on Fridays as people gear up for their weekend parties.

Bowser Beer

The idea came to Brown in 2007 after attending a farmer’s market where she was selling spicy pretzels, and at the urging of customers, a peanut-butter alternative for their dogs. She figured nothing paired better with pretzels than beer, and there was no reason her canine clientele couldn’t share in the enjoyment. After a few taste tastes with her own dogs, Bowser Beer was born.

Bowser Beer is available in certain animal specialty shops, and can be purchased from their website, where customers can design their own label with photos of their dog. Certain bars are even starting to add it to their beer list. If nothing else, Bowser Brew certainly makes for a fun and less common alternative to the more conventional bottle of merlot or 6-pack of Bud.

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