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PREVENTATIVE ORAL SCREENINGS & CLEANINGS WITHOUT ANESTHESIA: HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?

Kaycee.jpg

Hi, my name is Kacee and I am an LVT (Licensed Veterinary Technician) with Animal Dental Care. I have been performing PDCA’s on cats and dogs for almost 8 years. PDCA is short for a preventive dental cleaning and assessment, which is essentially a dental cleaning without the use of anesthesia. What I do does not equally replace a regular anesthetic dental, so anesthetic dentals cannot be dismissed altogether. A PDCA is a valuable tool to use in-between veterinarian recommended anesthetic dentals.

During your pets care with me, I will perform an assessment of the teeth before I begin my work, also checking under lips and tongue. Just as your dental hygienist does, I will use the ultrasonic scaler to clean their teeth of any tartar and plaque buildup. If they are too noise-sensitive I can often just handscale depending on the degree of the disease. I then polish, rinse, probe, chart all findings as I go and report to a veterinarian if needed. On average the procedure takes 20-30 minutes and the animals do surprisingly well. I work in a room alone, just me and the pet. Because it is just us two, the patient is not distracted by anything else, such as their family, other pets, or happenings in the treatment area of the hospital.  I have only been bitten once and it was when I was getting a dog out of a kennel. During a PDCA no one has gotten me yet! Fingers crossed…

In general pets who receive PDCA’s are recommended to see me every 6 months. However, small breeds and geriatrics are notorious for having a higher grade of dental disease and typically do better with PDCA’s on a quarterly schedule.

There are a few main differences between a PDCA and an anesthetic dental.

1.       The first and most obvious is that no anesthesia or sedatives are needed for a PDCA. I use a towel to swaddle-wrap cats and small/medium dogs. I sit on the floor and gently lay them in my lap just as you would an infant. Large dogs tend to just lay down and I put a leg around their rear end to keep them in position.  Some older dogs don’t like lying down, so I just have them stand up or sit down, however they are comfortable which is most important!

2.       There are no radiographs (x-rays) taken during PDCA’s. I am unable to see any pathology under the gums since it nearly impossible to take oral films on an awake patient. I do however, probe under the gums and feel for pockets, lesions, or any abnormalities in the tooth’s texture. If I find anything concerning, I immediately pause the procedure and discuss the findings with a veterinarian. The DVM listens to my concerns, examines the mouth and lets me know whether I should discontinue the procedure and recommend a regular anesthetic dental or continue with my cleaning.

3.       I cannot work on them all! Every pet I work on needs to be screened by a veterinarian before I meet them. This is to ensure they have no major pathology present and are of an agreeable temperament. Both factors play a vital role in the success of a PDCA. In addition, some pets do not tolerate even gentle restraint, and others are very anxious with the noise of the ultrasonic scaler. I do have an extremely high success rate, but some pets are just not suited to the procedure. Often the happy go lucky nice dogs are wiggly and the little shy ones do amazing! Honestly you just never know how they will do. I take my time with them and recognize they are nervous. I talk to them, give them little breaks and lots of love. I do my best to treat them like they are my own.

Click  here  to learn more about Animal Dental Care.

Click here to learn more about Animal Dental Care.

I have been working strictly on teeth for many years and it has taught me how important it is to keep up oral care. Generally speaking, a PDCA is a straightforward, in-and-out procedure but I can also find things that need further evaluation.  In the past I have found some crazy things like sticks lodged in palates, fractures under the gums, toy pieces stuck in between teeth, exposed pulp, and even hiding masses/growths. I will not clean your pet’s teeth if they need in-depth care that a routine cleaning cannot fix.  As for home care, I strongly recommend brushing your pet’s teeth. It’s hard I know, but don’t give up! The benefits are tremendous!

Interested in learning if your pet is a good candidate? Schedule an exam and screening here!

 

Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Cartoon: Ever have one of those days when you feel like you're chasing your own tail

Dogs are playful.  Yes, it is possible your dog is literally chasing their tail.  They might be keeping themselves entertained.

Learning about their bodies.  Just like infants, puppies are becoming aware of their bodies.

Rewarded behavior.  If you laugh at, or scold, your dog when they chase their tail, they take this as an opportunity get attention.

Breed specific.  Believe it or not, some breeds are more prone to “whirl!”  German Shepherds and Terriers are more likely to find amusement in their tails.

Medical concerns.  Although it’s usually entertaining to watch your pup chasing their tail, there are times when this behavior requires medical intervention.  A few concerns include:

  • Fleas and/or intestinal parasites
  • Impacted anal glands
  • Arthritis
  • Senior dogs who have not had this type of quirk might be presenting cognitive disorders

Please call us or schedule an appointment on-line if you have any concerns.


Why Does My Cat Lick Me All The Time?

gray cat licking orange and white cat

Bonding--When a cat licks you, they are saying, “I trust you.”  They are comfortable getting close to you and giving you the same attention they would give their kitten.

Territorial--Cats lick each other as a means of social bonding.  They rely heavily on scent.  When they lick you, they are marking you with their smell.  In other words, they are saying, “this is my person.”

You might need grooming--If you are one of the lucky people who receive “baths” from your cat, you know their tongues feel like sandpaper.  A cat’s tongue is covered with papillae (backward-facing hooks made of keratin) which help them keep things clean.  They remove meat from bones and dirt from fur.  When your cat licks you, they might be saying, “you need help keeping clean.”

cat licking

They might like the taste of you--Sweat contains sugar and salts, such as sodium, chloride, and potassium. When your sweat evaporates, it can leave sweet or salty residue on your skin that animals can smell and/or taste

Anxiety--Some anxiety can be normal for cats—especially when their environments change—but any time a cat begins licking more excessively than normal, it is best to schedule an appointment with us.  Beyond extreme anxiety, medical concerns include:

  • Fleas, allergies, and skin infection; pain, excessive stress, to name a few. 
  • Male cats who excessively lick their genitals may suffer from urinary infection or obstruction—this requires immediate attention.

If your cat is licking more than normal, please call us or request an appointment online.

The Truth About Being a Kennel Assistant

A Behind the Scenes Story

Whenever I tell people what I do for my job, they always seem to reply with: “Oh, you get to play with animals? That seems fun!”  In reality, working as a Kennel Assistant is so much more then playing with your furry friends, so I thought I would tell you what it is like to be a Kennel Assistant.

My day starts off at 5:30 a.m. when I hear the ringing of my alarm, throw on some scrubs and run out the door to be at work by 6:00 a.m.  Before I even clock in there are cats and dogs telling me that they are hungry, and of course the dogs who have stayed with us overnight inform me that they need to go potty outside.  Although we primarily offer cat boarding, we do occasionally have dogs stay with us that are post-surgery patients, boarding for medical reasons, or have come into our clinic as a stray.  The next hour consists of me feeding the animals, including our very own Beverly and Peggy, changing bedding and cleaning kennels, walking dogs, data entry to ensure that medical records stay complete, and providing some kitty play and doggy love.  Around 7:00 a.m., my other coworkers start to arrive.  For the next couple of hours, I am now tasked with clinic duties:  making coffee for staff, assisting techs, re-cleaning litter boxes, restocking rooms, and the never-ending laundry and cleaning up after both humans and animals.  There is always a mess to address somewhere!  

 
Kelsey has been with our kennel team for over 9 years!

Kelsey has been with our kennel team for over 9 years!

During the day, there is no need for kennel staff, but at 4:00 p.m. I am back to work, this time to repeat the tasks of the morning and also to clean the entire two-story clinic.  The afternoon shift usually includes two Kennel Assistants, as there is a lot more work to be done to ensure the entire clinic gets ready for the end of one day and the beginning of the next.  I pick up and clean everything, including the well-used surgery room, bathrooms, lounge area, treatment tables, doctor areas, isolation room, exam rooms, reception, lobby and much more. We assist techs, doctors, and doctor’s assistants, or whoever needs a hand. We are “on call” during this time to bring your pet down from boarding, help take carriers to your car or intake a stray that needs to have some extra TLC.  We ensure every area of the clinic is clean, including the exterior of our building. We normally don’t finish until 8:30 p.m.; however, as Kennel staff, we are required to be there as long as work needs to be done, and sometimes that is well past 9:00 p.m.  

As Kennel Assistants, we are there for your animals always. We work seven days a week, including holidays, and have learned to adapt to the different personalities of your furry friends.  We don’t take snow days, and must ensure coverage for vacations or sick days as the pets in our care won’t understand missing a meal.

Kennel Assistants do enjoy the fun of playing with animals; however, we also experience a combination of sickness, trauma, happiness and loss, and we are usually the ones behind the scenes still giving your fur baby one last snuggle before they cross the Rainbow Bridge.  Being a Kennel Assistant is hard work, but the rewards of being a part of a successful team make it all worthwhile.

Mckenzy Newtson, Kennel Assistant

Cats are Wonderful

 
Dr. Majeski and Erika show one way of gently restraining a cat

Dr. Majeski and Erika show one way of gently restraining a cat


 

Ask anyone at Lien, they will agree that I am a cat lady; whether or not I'm classified as a crazy one depends on who you ask, but I embrace the moniker wholeheartedly!  I love cats and am passionate about caring and advocating for them.  Cats are complicated creatures, with many differences from dogs that can make them challenging to handle or care for, so we do many things to make our practice more cat-friendly and fear-free.

I visit the cats in kitty boarding for cuddles daily, sometimes dispensing catnip or letting out the more confident ones for individual recess time.  We have Feliway plug-ins that disperse aerosolized synthetic calming pheromones, and anxious cats are given "privacy curtains" on their kennels to hide behind; the same goes for surgery and dental patients.  I also like to visit those patients to give them some love—most are happy to receive, even when anxious!

 
Sarah and Erika show how we can restrain without scruffing

Sarah and Erika show how we can restrain without scruffing

 
Sometimes, when cats get stressed, we wrap them in a towel to make them more comfortable

Sometimes, when cats get stressed, we wrap them in a towel to make them more comfortable

 

Handling and treating cats comes with its own set of challenges - they are often tired of being poked and prodded by doctors, then they have to deal with even more invasive procedures after the exam!  We do our best to bring treatments to an anxious cat, as keeping it in the room can greatly help.  Unlike dogs, cats often give very few or no warning signs before their fuse runs out, and they can strike out fast and hard, so knowing how to minimize stress and maximize safe handling is essential.

We always restrain animals in a gentle and supportive manner - some cats can be restrained by being held on their side by their scruff, while others do better wrapped in a towel, burrito-style.  Most cats are best for blood drawn from a back leg, but some will do very well for a jugular blood draw, usually performed on dogs.  We always prioritize diagnostics and treatments over things like toenail trims and anal gland expressions so that we accomplish the most important tasks in case the cat runs out of patience.

Another aspect of being cat-friendly is premedication.  We have some feline patients who are too fractious (aggressive) to handle or treat, and the mere prospect of wrangling a furious feline to get them to the clinic is enough to deter some owners from annual exams, only bringing the cat in when it is sick or injured.  Believe me, I know the feeling - my Bengals caterwaul and scream on the way to and at the vet, making visits unpleasant for all of us!  In order to minimize stress for the cat, owner, and clinic staff alike while simultaneously maximizing quality of care, our doctors will often prescribe a pre-visit sedative.

Gabapentin, a pain medication with excellent sedative and anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) properties, has become a fast favorite among our doctors.  When assistants and technicians perceive that a patient is particularly stressed, we will often ask a doctor to prescribe a pre-visit medication so that the next visit will go more smoothly.  The combination of sedation and anti-anxiety can calm a cat, preventing the fight-or-flight response that leads to aggression and prevents treatment.

Cats are strange and wonderful creatures, and deserve our love and help.  They are often much more discerning and hard to please than dogs - no offense to either species! - but I think this is what makes them special.  As anyone who has met me knows, I am thrilled to meet every cat, whether or not they reciprocate the sentiment!  I have been sent to the ER with my share of cat bites, but I am not deterred from caring for them to the best of my ability, nor will I ever be.  I am glad to be practicing at a clinic like Lien, where we constantly strive to be cat-friendly and fear-free.

Erika Price, Veterinary Assistant

To see Erika and Mckenzy, a member of our kennel crew, in kitty boarding, visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4BSzaLSZlY&feature=youtu.be