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Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats

Posted by Ace Vet Euroa on 16 March 2024
Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats


Dental disease is very common among our pets, with it being reported that up to 80% of dogs and cats will have some form of dental disease by the age of 3!


What is dental disease?

Dental disease is formed by the accumulation of plaque which develops when bacteria in the mouth forms a biofilm on surface of the tooth which over time will become mineralised to form tartar. This leads to gingivitis - inflammation of the gums, which if left untreated can spread to the surrounding structures including the periodontal ligament (which holds the tooth in place) and even the bone. This results in pain, tooth loss, infection and abscesses of the tooth root and even jaw fracture. As the mouth has such a good blood supply it is even possible for this infection to spread via the bloodstream to organs such as the heart and


What are the signs of dental disease?

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discolouration or visible tartar
  • Red gums
  • Missing teeth
  • Salivating
  • Quiet demeanour
  • Difficulty eating or preference for soft food (although often the signs of pain are very subtle and dogs with quite severe dental disease often continue to eat)


What can we do about it?

Prevention of dental disease starts with puppies and kittens. At your puppy/kitten check ups and annual vaccinations your pets’ teeth will be assessed for factors which may predispose them to dental disease including problems with jaw alignment or retained deciduous (baby) teeth. At this age it is also ideal to start getting your puppy or kitten used to you checking their teeth and introducing brushing to their daily routine - making it a fun and positive experience for them.

You have an adult or older pet? Don’t worry there is still plenty you can do to help manage their teeth and it is often possible to introduce brushing later in life. We recommend starting with a dental assessment by one of our vets to ensure there is no pre-existing dental disease. If so this should be managed first to ensure that your pets mouth is pain free so as not to establish any negative associations with the brushing experience.

Prescription dental diets are also beneficial in minimising the development of dental disease. They do this by being abrasive to the surface of the tooth to reduce plaque build up and importantly they also contain a component that competes with bacteria in the mouth to bind to the tooth, minimising plaque formation.

In situations where plaque build up and tartar formation is already present a dental procedure will be required to clean the teeth and in some cases extraction of teeth with more advanced stages of disease will be required.


What does a dental procedure involve?

A dental procedure requires a full general anaesthetic to allow us to thoroughly clean and examine the teeth, including probing and x-ray assessment. This allows us to identify even subtle signs of disease which helps us to determine a treatment plan. Cleaning the teeth includes cleaning under the gum line as this is where bacteria can accumulate and start to invade the tooth root, periodontal ligament and surrounding bone. In the early stages a scale and polish of the teeth may be all that is required.

In more advanced stages extractions may be required. As many of the teeth have multiple roots and are surrounded by the jaw bone often surgical extractions are required. Prior to extraction the patient will receive nerve blocks with local anaesthetic for pain management and will go home with continuing pain relief. We often find that patients requiring extractions are feeling more comfortable quickly after the procedure as the source of discomfort has been removed.

Do you have an older pet with dental disease, but worried about the anaesthetic required for treatment? Already so common, dental disease becomes more prevalent in the older population of cats and dogs. This means performing dental procedures on these patients is something we do frequently. This doesn’t mean it is risk free, however we have multiple ways to manage and
minimise the risks to your pet so that we can perform the procedure and make them more comfortable and increase their longevity. Not performing a dental when required also carries risks; progression of disease with spread of infection both to surrounding bone and distant organs and significant pain which can stop them eating, cause weight loss and negatively impact on their quality of life.

Ways we minimise risk;

  • Performing a thorough physical examination and pre-anaesthetic bloods to identify any underlying conditions - this allows us to tailor the anaesthetic protocol to the specific needs of the patient
  • High level of patient monitoring (with technology which would not be out of place in human hospitals)
  • Utilisation of anaesthetic sparing techniques - meaning we provide a high level of pain relief and use multiple different types of anaesthetic agents in order to minimise the doses required - Intravenous fluids throughout the anaesthetic to help support blood pressure 
  • Dedicated staff monitoring the patient closely throughout the procedure and recovery.  Once your pet has recovered from the procedure you can continue with home care including brushing and dental diets in order to reduce the build up of plaque and the frequency for further intervention in the future. 

Do you want your pets’ teeth assessed? Book an appointment today to see one of our friendly vets.

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How Much Time Should Your Cat Groom Each Day?

Posted by Ace Vet Hospital Euroa on 14 August 2023
How Much Time Should Your Cat Groom Each Day?

Why your cat grooms

Most household cats will spend time grooming by licking, scratching, and rubbing at their paws, ears, joints, and just about everywhere else to stay clean.

And, more than that, when your cat is grooming, it may also be:

  • regulating body temperature
  • keeping their coat soft and clean with oils
  • stimulating circulation 
  • removing unwanted guests and parasites
  • soothing their anxious nerves
  • keeping occupied and avoiding boredom
  • trying to clean injuries or soothe pain
  • acting out of instinct or habit
  • acting out of enjoyment
  • trying to remove or hide scent from potential predators

How Often Should Your Cat be Grooming?

Most household cats can spend between 30-50% of their day grooming and cleaning themselves, which is completely normal because they might be grooming for reasons other than cleaning, as mentioned above.

And, every cat is an individual. The amount of time spent grooming can depend on things like:

  • how active they are

  • how much time they spend outdoors

  • age 

  • breed

  • health status

And, some cats simply like to groom more than others. The amount of time a cat spends grooming isn’t normally cause for concern unless you notice large changes in frequency or areas of interest (such as at wounds or joints).

In this case, you can check for additional symptoms of injury or illness, and contact Ace Vet.

How to know if your cat grooms too often

A cat that is grooming itself too often will show symptoms like:

  • skin agitation (redness, rashes)

  • patches of thinning or missing fur

  • coat discolouration 

  • disinterest in other enjoyable activities, focusing on grooming instead

  • scratching at often groomed areas, or rubbing against objects in your home

Signs your cat isn’t grooming enough

A cat that isn’t grooming itself often enough may show noticeable changes in fur colour and feel. Typical signs of an under-grooming cat include:

  • A thick, dull coat of fur (usually more prone to matting)

  • Urine or droppings on the skin/fur surrounding your pet’s tail

  • Litter and debris stuck to the paws

  • Unusual or unpleasant smells


Why cats groom more or less often

Reasons your cat could be grooming more often

If your cat is suddenly grooming more often than it usually does, it may be affected by:

  • Parasites: like fleas, mites, lice

  • Allergies: foods, the environment, cleaning equipment, or other animals

  • Infection: bacterial, fungal, or yeast

  • Pain: cuts, bruising, or underlying conditions like arthritis

  • Stress/anxiety: often caused by changes in routine or environment

Reasons your cat may be grooming less often

The most common reasons a cat will groom less often than usual include:

  • Age: Their joints may be restricting movement and energy levels are lower

  • Illness: health conditions causing lethargy or restriction

  • Obesity: restricted movement and energy levels


How to help your cat with its grooming habits

Much of your cat’s grooming habit is built on routine and habit. Some ways to help your cat regulate its time spent grooming include:

  • maintaining routines at home (feeding, outside time, and when you’re home)

  • providing stimulation or activities for it to enjoy at home

  • helping it groom with occasional brushing

Sudden changes in behaviour are often caused by changes at home or underlying illness. If your cat’s grooming habits have noticeably changed suddenly, contact us for a veterinary check-up and assessment of your cat’s health. 

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Springtime Pet Allergies: A Guide to Identifying, Treating and Managing Allergies in Your Pets

Posted by Ace Vet Hospital Euroa on 19 July 2023
Springtime Pet Allergies: A Guide to Identifying, Treating and Managing Allergies in Your Pets

Just like humans, our furry friends can suffer from allergies triggered by pollen, spores, grass seeds, and dust that fill the air during springtime. These allergies can cause discomfort, excessive scratching, and skin irritations in cats and dogs. However, by being aware of the signs and symptoms and taking appropriate measures, you can help your pet find relief and enjoy the beautiful spring weather. In this comprehensive guide, we will provide you with valuable insights into identifying, treating, and managing allergies in your pets.

Understanding the Signs of Allergies in Pets

Seasonal allergies in pets often manifest through skin-related issues. While humans may experience runny noses and itchy eyes, cats and dogs are more prone to itchy skin. Here are five key symptoms to watch out for:

1. Excessive Scratching and Licking

If you notice your pet scratching, biting, or licking their coat or skin more than usual, it could be a sign of allergies. The itchiness can become so severe that they may even chew their skin or rub against furniture in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort.

2. Hair Loss

Untreated skin allergies can lead to constant scratching and biting, resulting in hair loss. Pay attention to any thinning of your pet's coat, especially if they are allergic to grass seeds. Cats, in particular, tend to over groom when they are itchy, which can contribute to hair loss.

3. Red Sores and Skin Irritation

Persistent scratching and biting can break the skin, leading to the development of red sores. These sores may ooze pus and become infected if left untreated. It is essential to address the underlying allergies to prevent further complications.

4. Ear Infections

Allergens, such as pollen and seeds, can enter your pet's ears and cause intense itching. If your pet frequently scratches their ears or vigorously shakes their head, it may indicate the presence of an ear infection. Prompt treatment is crucial to prevent the infection from worsening.

5. Respiratory Problems

In some cases, pets may experience respiratory issues due to allergens. They may exhibit symptoms similar to humans, including a runny nose, watery and red eyes, coughing, and sneezing. While less common than skin-related symptoms, respiratory problems should not be overlooked.

Taking Steps to Help Your Allergic Pet

As a responsible pet owner, there are several proactive measures you can take to alleviate your pet's allergies and promote their overall well-being. Here are some effective strategies to consider:

1. Regular Bathing and Grooming

Regular bathing with a pet-specific hypoallergenic shampoo can help remove allergens from your pet's coat and soothe their irritated skin. Grooming your pet regularly, including brushing their fur, can also help remove pollen, dust, spores, and seeds.

2. Paw Care

Pollen and allergens often accumulate on your pet's paws, causing irritation. Rinse or soak their paws frequently to remove surface irritants. Trimming long fur on the paws can also help reduce the retention of allergens.

3. Flea Prevention

Many pets have allergies to fleas, which can exacerbate their allergic reactions. Consistently administer a quality, prescription flea preventative to protect your pet from these external pests and minimise the risk of allergic reactions. One flea bite can trigger an allergic reaction.

4. Reduce Environmental Allergens

Minimise allergens in your home by regularly vacuuming carpets, mopping floors, and keeping your pet's bedding clean. Additionally, keeping windows closed during peak pollen times can help reduce the influx of allergens.

5. Consult Us

Before administering any over-the-counter antihistamines or supplements, consult our knowledgeable team to ensure the safety and appropriateness of the treatment for your pet. We can provide guidance on suitable dosages and recommend specific products tailored to your pet's needs.

6. Allergy Testing and Immunotherapy

If your pet's allergies persist or worsen despite your efforts, allergy testing to identify specific triggers may be recommended. Based on the results, a customised immunotherapy plan can be developed to desensitise your pet's immune system and reduce allergic reactions.

7. Prescription Medications

In severe cases, medications such as corticosteroids or antihistamines may be prescribed to alleviate your pet's symptoms and provide relief. These medications should only be used under veterinary supervision to ensure the appropriate dosage and minimise potential side effects.

8. Dietary Modifications

While food allergies are less common than environmental allergies, they can still contribute to your pet's overall allergic response. Consult our vet team before making any dietary changes, as blindly switching your pet's food may not address the underlying issue. We can guide you in selecting appropriate hypoallergenic or elimination diets if necessary.

Seeking Veterinary Assistance

If your pet's allergies persist, worsen, or if you notice open sores, a noticeable odour, or intense discomfort, it is crucial to seek veterinary assistance promptly. Allergies can lead to secondary infections and long-term discomfort if left untreated. Our knowledgeable team can provide targeted topical treatments, antibiotic therapy, and systemic medications to help control itching, inflammation, and manage your pet's allergies effectively.

Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all approach to treating allergies in pets. Each furry friend is unique, and their treatment plan should be tailored accordingly. By working closely with your veterinarian and following their guidance, you can help your pet find relief from seasonal allergies and ensure their comfort and happiness during the beautiful springtime.

Final Words...

As a dedicated pet owner, it is essential to be vigilant and proactive in identifying, treating, and managing seasonal allergies in your pets. By familiarising yourself with the signs and symptoms of allergies, practising good hygiene, reducing environmental allergens, and seeking veterinary assistance when necessary, you can provide your furry companions with the care and relief they need. Remember, your veterinarian is your most valuable resource in ensuring the health and well-being of your pet. Together, you can navigate the challenges of seasonal allergies and help your pet enjoy the wonders of springtime to the fullest.

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