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

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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.


How to Achieve a Stress Free & Enjoyable 4th of July

 

The season of noise is upon us.  This can be a stressful time for many dogs and cats.  For those pets who are anxious and scared by the excessive noise and explosions, we often prescribe anti-anxiety medications and/or sedatives. These pet medications can be very helpful as a part of your overall strategy to reduce the anxiety that these stressful events can have on you and your household.

The key components to successful stress prevention for your pet are to plan ahead and if using medication, to start administering well before there is any stimulus that may cause fear and anxiety. Once your pet hears the noise and becomes fearful or anxious, it greatly reduces the effectiveness of the medication and/or stress relieving efforts.

 We recommend that you start using sedatives or anti-anxiety medication at 1/2 dosing at least 2-4 days before you expect fireworks to start. On the day you expect noise in your neighborhood, you should start giving the full dose early in the day, well before it begins.

When starting any new medication of this type, we recommend that you do a "trial run" before the event to see how your pet responds. These medications often have a large safety margin that can be adjusted if needed in order to ensure efficacy and success.  

This year, July 4th falls on Wednesday so it is very likely that there will be excessive noise beginning the weekend before the holiday and realistically it will continue all week through the following weekend. If this is likely to be the case in your neighborhood, please remember to put in your request for medication well in advance so we can be certain it is in stock and so that it can proactively administered. 

If you are saw a great response and are happy with the medication you have used in the past, please call request a refill online or over the phone.  Please note that your pet must be current on their Wellness Exam for the clinic to prescribe medication. If treating your pet for anxiety is new or you would like to try an alternative medication that may be more effective and please call us and we can discuss options.

Historically, we have prescribed sedatives like Acepromazine for many dogs.  This medication is often effective, but it does cause sedation and does not specifically relieve stress.  For the past few years, we have prescribed Trazodone more commonly because it has anti-anxiety and sedative effects. 

Last year we started carrying Sileo which is the only FDA approved medication specifically for the treatment of noise aversion in dogs. This medication is unique since it calms without sedating. It can be used by itself or in combination with other medications based on your doctor’s recommendations.  This medication can be used for any noise issues including fireworks, thunder, construction, etc.

We also have options available for cats. Most commonly prescribed is Gabapentin. It is used to help calm fearful kitties during times such as fireworks, thunder, travel in cars or even just trips to the vet. Gabapentin can be used in both cats and dogs.

In addition to prescription medications, we carry a natural, lactose free supplement derived from casein, a milk protein. The product is Zylkene. It can be given orally or sprinkled with food and is given once a day. Zylkene is safe for use in both cats and dogs.

To aid in a successful, untroubled home, here are a few other suggestions you can try to help prevent noise induced fear and stress:

If possible, travel to a quieter area away from your home for the July 4th holiday.

If staying at home, try to create a safe place for your dog or cat to be during the fireworks. They tend to feel safest in enclosed, den like areas. Some pets find a closet, bathroom or kennel to hide in when they are frightened. If you know where your pet’s “safe spot” is, get it ready so it is accessible and comfortable for them. Ideally, you can work with your pet prior to any stress to make this a safe place where they get treats and enjoy being.

Having other noise in the house to help mask the sudden explosions can also be helpful. Some people have the volume of music and television turned up loud to help drown out the loud noises. If possible, having the windows closed and the shades or curtains closed can help create a quieter, safer environment.

We want to help you and your pet have as stress-free and enjoyable July 4th holiday as possible. Please feel free to call with any questions or requests.

 Thank you for allowing us to care for your furry family.

Best,

Diane Boudreau, Client Services.

Timothy R Kraabel, DVM, DABVP (Canine/Feline Practice)

Vice President American Board of Veterinary Practitioners