Pets in Portland, Oregon Apartments

Do you have a dog or cat and live in an apartment complex or condo in the Pacific Northwest?

Do you own or manage a pet-friendly home, pet-friendly condo or pet-friendly apartment complex in the Portland, OR metro area?

We have a few recommendations for both of you:

  • All pets should be on a veterinary recommended flea prevention product year-round.

All pets in multifamily living situations (condos or apartments most commonly), are at risk of external and internal parasites which can be difficult (sometimes almost impossible) to treat in the environment. Everyone knows that fleas make pets itchy and can cause irritating bites on susceptible people but did you know they can be a public health hazard as well?  Fleas can carry several types of bacteria that they can spread to pets and people. A couple of diseases fleas can spread are cat scratch disease, plague and dogs-in-doorwaytapeworms.  Over the counter flea preventatives may work for some pets, but there seem to be many pets who do not get the protection they need from the generic products.   With these pests, it’s far better to prevent them than to have to treat for them. Treatment will require diligence and effort; you’ll have to treat all the pets, all the bedding, the indoor environment and the outdoor environment to kill the population of fleas invading your home. The adults you see make up only about 5% of the fleas you see in your environment – one flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day and live for 2-3 months.  If you do the math, that’s a lot of eggs!

  • All pets should be treated with a broad spectrum intestinal parasite dewormer at least twice a year.

Dogs and cats are susceptible to many internal parasites even as indoor-only pets.  Many of these, they can share with people.  Roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms are common intestinal parasites which can affect people.  Some heartworm preventatives pull double-duty by protecting against heartworm disease (spread by mosquitos year-round) as well as intestinal parasites.  Young children, the elderly and immunocompromised individuals are at the highest risk of contracting these intestinal parasites from infected pets.  Your vet can help decide what dewormer is right for your pet.

  • Every pet should have an up to date Rabies vaccine

By Oregon law, all cats and dogs over the age of 6 months must have a rabies vaccine given to them by a licensed veterinarian.  Rabies is a rapidly fatal disease for pets and humans with no treatment, so it is important to prevent it.  Most veterinarians will vaccinate a dog or cat between 4-6 months of age, then again 12 months later.  After that, the vaccines are generally valid for 3 years at a time. Most counties also require a separate “county tag” that can usually be purchased on your county’s website.  It is important to have this cat-vaccinevaccine for your pets’ protection, but it is also important for your protection.  If your pet bites someone and does not have an up-to-date vaccine, the county can impose a mandatory quarantine and could potentially impound your pet and require euthanasia depending on the degree of the injuries caused. If they have a current vaccine, the situation is much less scary.

There are several other vaccines and preventative care items that your veterinarian may recommend based on your pet’s age and lifestyle, but these three items are important for every pet in multi-family facilities.  If every pet in an apartment or condo has these basic preventions on board, then the facility itself will be cleaner and safer as a whole for all pets and people living there.

Call us today if you manage a complex which allows pets and have any questions about these recommendations.  We can even set up a vet-day for us to bring our mobile veterinary clinic to your location and help update all pets in the building(s) to keep everyone safe! 


If you’re a pet owner and would like more specific recommendations for your cat or dog, please call us today to set up a house-call veterinary appointment. We provide an old-timey service with new-age technology!

As always, don’t hesitate to call/e-mail us at Blue Door Veterinary Services if you have any questions that this short blog didn’t answer!    503-819-8040

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Cat Carrier woes? We can help!

Austin loves his box


Everyone knows that cats LOVE boxes right? Then why is it so hard to put them in a cat carrier?


While the easy answer for most situations is to call a mobile veterinarian like Blue Door Veterinary Services, during an emergency (health or disaster), a carrier can be a life saver.

Would you believe me if I said you can train your cat to get in the carrier without injury, blood loss and tears? Yes, I said train your cat.  Now is the time to start teaching your cat that the carrier is a safe place.

chill cat with carrier

For most cats, their only experience with the carrier is a scary ride to the vet. With each successive trip to an unhappy place, the idea of a carrier can get scarier and scarier to a cat. For kittens, we can start them out early, teaching them that the carrier is a safe, even a fun place.  For older kitties who are already fearful of the carrier, with some positive reinforcement and some time, we can change their perceptions of carriers and make them less likely to practice their claw sharpening on you when it becomes necessary to use a carrier for transportation.

Let’s get started:

  • Start by bringing the cat carrier out: Out of the garage, attic, closet, where ever you have it hidden. Clean it up of all the cobwebs and dust bunnies and set it in a quiet, but easily accessible, place for your cat to see. 
  • Now let’s make it inviting: place a soft towel or something that smells like home inside, add some cat nip or perhaps maybe even some feline pheromone spray (we recommend Feliway).
  • Leave the door open – remove it if possible. If you have the hard plastic kind that you can take the lid off, then I recommend taking the lid off to start as well. We want to make it as open as possible so your cat doesn’t feel like it’s a trap.
  • For some really fearful cats, you’ll have to start slow.  Introduce your cat to the sight of the carrier by feeding them in view of the carrier. No pressure to go in, it’s just there. Slowly move the bowl closer to the carrier each day.  Do that for as many days as necessary to get your cat comfortable walking right up to the carrier and eating next to it.
  • Next, I recommend offering high value food or treats inside the carrier. Still no pressure; the door doesn’t shut. Our goal is for your cat to willingly go into the carrier.
  • Continue to offer food and treats in and near the carrier indefinitely. You will find your cat willing to enter the carrier eventually. Once she’s comfortable getting in and out of the cat carrier, you can slowly begin closing the door and picking the carrier up.  Short periods of time, stopping before she panics.  Let her out and give more treats.
cat carrier

Nick is relaxed in his soft sided carrier

  • If you have to take your cat anywhere in the carrier, make sure to have the carrier out in the days before you must leave and leave it out a few days after you bring your kitty home.  Do what you can to never bring the carrier out immediately before you have to take your cat anywhere in it.
  • It may take a long time for older cats who have a real fear of the carriers, but it is totally worth it to get them used to it.
  • Positive reinforcement and time – It really is a simple as that.
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What Makes our Mobile Veterinary Service Unique



mobile veterinary clinic

What Makes Our Mobile Service Unique? 

Blue Door Veterinary Services is a veterinary practice like you have never seen before! Dr. Meridith Dawson, owner and veterinarian, operates our mobile veterinary unit in the greater Portland community, providing complete veterinary services to dogs and cats (and sometimes rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs and chickens).

blood work

On board lab machines

The mobile vet hospital is equipped with a complete surgical suite (for spays, neuters, mass removals and other elective surgeries), digital x-ray capabilities, pet dental cleaning/treatment equipment, on-site laboratory services, and so much more. Our advanced technology is on par with the technology you would find in a traditional brick and mortar practice, but we come right to your door!

Most importantly, we bring our full attention to your pet’s needs, in a place that is most calming: home. Whether your pet is anxious or travels poorly, or you have difficulty handling your pet or multiple pets for a visit to a traditional veterinary office, mobile care can be perfect for all of you. We’ll spend the time needed to meet your pet, conduct a full evaluation, and develop a plan of care. Should specialized care or longer-term treatment be necessary, we may even be able to help with the transportation of your pet to specialty hospitals.

Henry was relaxed for his at home vet exam

We invite you to explore the many veterinary services we offer to learn more about who we are and what we can provide to you, with exceptional convenience! If you have questions about our care, please explore our Frequently Asked Questions page on our website, or contact our team directly.
call: 503-819-8040

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Why choose a mobile vet?


Why does YOUR PET want you to choose a mobile vet?

  • Have you ever noticed your pet shaking, shedding excessively, or panting when you sit in a veterinarian’s waiting or exam room?
  • Does your cat yowl or have accidents in their cat carrier on the way to the vet’s office?
  • Does your dog get over-excited about the other pets in the lobby of a traditional vet?
  • Do you stock up on bandages in preparation to put your cat in a carrier?

These are all signs of stress. Blue Door Veterinary Services will see your furry friend in the

Henry was relaxed for his at home vet exam

place that is most familiar: their home and neighborhood. The mobile truck is specially designed for nearly every medical need from immunizations, to dental cleanings and surgery, thus almost eliminating the need to travel to a brick and mortar clinic where they get so upset.

Why should YOU choose a mobile vet?

  • Do you have multiple pets that require multiple trips to the vet? Get them on the same schedule. With Blue Door, you make one appointment, saving you the hassle of transporting your family.
  • Has your dog had more trouble getting up/into the car in recent years? Save your back and let us come to her.
  • Do you work-from-home? You can continue with your own work while we attend to your pet’s needs. No need to sit and wait in someone else’s office for the doctor to see you. Your boss will never even know you’re multitasking!
  • Are you a parent with young children who are tough to keep entertained at the doctor’s office? With Blue Door, we only need a few minutes of your time at the start of the visit. After we discuss a plan, we then transport your pet to our veterinary truck, take care of their needs and return them to you to discuss the exam and recommendations. No need to wrangle kids and pets together as you would in a traditional brick and mortar clinic.
  • Prefer to spend your day off at home? So do we. Your home is exactly where we want to be. You and your family can remain relaxed and well cared for by Blue Door Vet Services.

Have any questions about what we do as a mobile vet or how we can help you and your pet out?  Visit our FAQ page for more information.

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Hot Weather Safety Tips for Pets

dog in front of a fan

We all love spending the long, sunny days of summer outdoors with our furry companions, but being overeager in hot weather can spell danger. To prevent your pet from overheating, take these simple precautions provided by ASPCA experts:

  • Visit the vet for a spring or early-summer checkup. Make sure your pets get tested for heartworm if they aren’t on year-round preventative medication.
  • Pets can get dehydrated quickly, so give them plenty of fresh, clean water when it’s hot or humid outdoors. Make sure your pets have a shady place to get out of the sun, be careful not to over-exercise them, and keep them indoors when it’s extremely hot.
  • Know the symptoms of overheating in pets, which include excessive panting or difficulty breathing, increased heart and respiratory rate, drooling, mild weakness, stupor or even collapse. Symptoms can also include seizures, bloody diarrhea and vomit along with an elevated body temperature of over 104 degrees.
  • Animals with flat faces, like Pugs and Persian cats, are more susceptible to heat stroke since they cannot pant as effectively. These pets, along with the elderly, the overweight, and those with heart or lung diseases, should be kept cool in air-conditioned rooms as much as possible.
  • Never leave your animals alone in a parked vehicle. Not only can it lead to fatal heat stroke, it is illegal in several states!
  • Do not leave pets unsupervised around a pool—not all dogs are good swimmers. Introduce your pets to water gradually and make sure they wear flotation devices when on boats. Rinse your dog off after swimming to remove chlorine or salt from his fur, and try to keep your dog from drinking pool water, which contains chlorine and other chemicals.
  • Open unscreened windows pose a real danger to pets, who often fall out of them. Keep all unscreened windows or doors in your home closed, and make sure adjustable screens are tightly secured.
  • Feel free to trim longer hair on your dog, but never shave your dog: The layers of dogs’ coats protect them from overheating and sunburn. Brushing cats more often than usual can prevent problems caused by excessive heat. And be sure that any sunscreen or insect repellent product you use on your pets is labeled specifically for use on animals.
  • When the temperature is very high, don’t let your dog linger on hot asphalt. Being so close to the ground, your pooch’s body can heat up quickly, and sensitive paw pads can burn. Keep walks during these times to a minimum.
  • Commonly used rodenticides and lawn and garden insecticides can be harmful to cats and dogs if ingested, so keep them out of reach. Keep citronella candles, tiki torch products and insect coils of out pets’ reach as well. Call your veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Centerat (888) 426-4435 if you suspect your animal has ingested a poisonous substance.
  • Remember that food and drink commonly found at barbeques can be poisonous to pets. Keep alcoholic beverages away from pets, as they can cause intoxication, depression and comas. Similarly, remember that the snacks enjoyed by your human friends should not be a treat for your pet; any change of diet, even for one meal, may give your dog or cat severe digestive ailments. Avoid raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate and products with the sweetener xylitol. Please visit our People Foods to Avoid Feeding Your Pets page for more information.
  • Please leave pets at home when you head out to Fourth of July celebrations, and never use fireworks around pets. Exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns or trauma, and even unused fireworks can contain hazardous materials. Many pets are also fearful of loud noises and can become lost, scared or disoriented, so it’s best to keep your little guys safe from the noise in a quiet, sheltered and escape-proof area of your home. Be prepared in the event that your pet does escape by downloading the ASPCA Mobile App. You’ll receive a personalized missing pet recovery kit, including step-by-step instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances.


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What Is Canine Influenza Virus?


There are many causes of kennel cough, both bacterial and viral. Canine influenza virus (CIV) is one of the viral causes of kennel cough. This highly contagious respiratory disease has affected thousands of dogs in the United States. Because CIV is a relatively new virus, most dogs have not been exposed to it before. Dogs of any age, breed, and vaccine status are susceptible to this infection.

How Could My Dog Catch Canine Influenza Virus?
CIV is easily transmitted between dogs through a combination of aerosols, droplets, and direct contact with respiratory secretions. The virus does not survive for a long time in the environment, so dogs usually get CIV when they are in close proximity to other infectious dogs.

Which Dogs Are Prone to Canine Influenza Virus? 
Any dog who interacts with large numbers of dogs is at increased risk for exposure. Pet owners should consult their veterinarian for information about the canine influenza vaccine.

What Are the General Signs of Canine Influenza Virus? 
While most dogs will show typical signs of kennel cough, but a small percentage of dogs will develop a more severe illness. Signs of canine influenza virus include:

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Variable fever
  • Clear nasal discharge that progresses to thick, yellowish-green mucus
  • Rapid/difficult breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Can Dogs Die From Canine Influenza Virus?
If CIV is quickly diagnosed and treated, the fatality rate is quite low. Deaths are usually caused by secondary complications, such as pneumonia. It is important that dogs with CIV receive proper veterinary care.

How Is Canine Influenza Virus Diagnosed?
Veterinarians will typically conduct a thorough physical examination and run a series of tests to diagnose the illness.

How Is Canine Influenza Treated?
Because CIV is a virus similar to the flu in humans, there is no specific antiviral medication available. However, supportive care and appropriate treatment of secondary infections are important. Your veterinarian may advise the following to soothe your dog while the condition runs its course:

  • Good nutrition and supplements to raise immunity
  • A warm, quiet, and comfortable spot to rest
  • Medications to treat secondary bacterial infections
  • Intravenous fluids to maintain hydration
  • Workup and treatment for pneumonia

Be advised, while most dogs will fight the infection within 10 to 30 days, secondary infections require antibiotics and, in the case of pneumonia, sometimes even hospitalization.

What Should I Do if I Think My Dog Has Canine Influenza Virus? 
If you think your dog has canine influenza virus, immediately isolate him or her from all other dogs and call your veterinarian.

Can I Catch Canine Influenza From My Dog?
So far there has been no evidence to indicate that dogs can transmit CIV to humans.

How Can I Help Prevent My Dog From Spreading the Disease? 
Any dog infected with CIV should be kept isolated from other dogs for 10 to 14 days from the onset of signs. Dogs are most infectious before signs are apparent, and can continue shedding the virus for approximately 10 days. This means that by the time signs of the illness are seen, other dogs may have already been exposed.


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Easter Pet Poisons


The veterinarians at Pet Poison Helpline receive hundreds of calls this time of year from pet owners and veterinarians concerning cats that have ingested Easter lilies.

“Unbeknownst to many pet owners, Easter lilies are highly toxic to cats,” said Ahna Brutlag, DVM, MS assistant director at Pet Poison Helpline. “All parts of the Easter lily plant are poisonous – the petals, the leaves, the stem and even the pollen. Cats that ingest as few as one or two leaves, or even a small amount of pollen while grooming their fur, can suffer severe kidney failure.”

In most situations, symptoms of poisoning will develop within six to 12 hours of exposure. Early signs include vomiting, loss of appetite, lethargy and dehydration. Symptoms worsen as kidney failure develops. Some cats will experience disorientation, staggering and seizures.

“There is no effective antidote to counteract lily poisoning, so the sooner you can get your cat to the veterinarian, the better his chances of survival will be,” said Brutlag. “If you see your cat licking or eating any part of an Easter lily, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately. If left untreated, his chances of survival are low.”

Treatment includes inducing vomiting, administering drugs like activated charcoal (to bind the poison in the stomach and intestines), intravenous fluid therapy to flush out the kidneys, and monitoring of kidney function through blood testing. The prognosis and the cost – both financially and physically – to the pet owner and cat, are best when treated immediately.

There are several other types of lilies that are toxic to cats as well. They are of the Lilium and Hemerocallis species and commonly referred to as Tiger lilies, Day lilies and Asiatic lilies. Popular in many gardens and yards, they can also result in severe acute kidney failure. These lilies are commonly found in florist bouquets, so it is imperative to check for poisonous flowers before bringing bouquets into the household. Other types of lilies – such as the Peace, Peruvian and Calla lilies – are usually not a problem for cats and may cause only minor drooling.

Thankfully, lily poisoning does not occur in dogs or people. However, if a large amount is ingested, it can result in mild gastrointestinal issues such as vomiting and diarrhea.

Other Dangers to Pets at Easter Time

Pet Poison Helpline also receives calls concerning pets that have ingested Easter grass and chocolate.

Usually green or yellow in color, Easter grass is the fake grass that often accompanies Easter baskets. When your cat or dog ingests something “stringy” like Easter grass, it can become anchored around the base of the tongue or stomach, rendering it unable to pass through the intestines. It can result in a linear foreign body and cause severe damage to the intestinal tract, often requiring expensive abdominal surgery.

Lastly, during the week of Easter, calls to Pet Poison Helpline concerning dogs that have been poisoned by chocolate increase by nearly 200 percent. While the occasional chocolate chip in one cookie may not be an issue, certain types of chocolate are very toxic to dogs. In general, the darker and more bitter the chocolate, the greater the danger. Baker’s chocolate and dark chocolate pose the biggest problem. The chemical toxicity is due to methylxanthines (a relative of caffeine) and results in vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, an abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and possibly death. Other sources include chewable chocolate flavored multi-vitamins, baked goods, or chocolate-covered espresso beans. If you suspect that your dog ate chocolate, call your veterinarian or Pet Poison Helpline immediately.

Spring is in the air and Easter is a wonderful holiday. Remember that your pets will be curious about new items you bring into your household like Easter lilies, Easter grass and chocolate. Keep them a safe distance away from your pets’ reach and enjoy the holiday and the season.



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Protect Your Pet from Household Poisons

Protect Your Pet from Household Poisons

As a pet owner, you want your pet to be safe when you travel outside of your home and while they’re inside your home, too. March 20-26, 2016, is designated as Poison Prevention Week, and Blue Door Veterinary Services in Portland wants to give you some tips on how to protect your pet from certain household poisons. Below is a list of the some of the most common household items that can be poisonous to your four-legged friend and how you can protect your pet from them:

Human Medications

To a pet, that little capsule lying on the floor that you didn’t realize you dropped can look like a tasty piece of candy or pet food. Every year, thousands of pets require emergency care after eating medications like Tylenol, Prozac, Aleve, and Effexor. If a pet ingests these medications, it can result in vomiting, ulcers, or kidney failure. Protect your pet from these toxic medications by always checking your floors for dropped pills and making sure all containers are securely sealed and stored out of your pet’s reach. And if you ever see your pet pick up a pill, call us immediately to determine if they need to be seen. Don’t wait!

Human Foods

You’ve probably been tempted to share some of your dinner with your pet once or twice, but before you decide to drop them a piece, make sure you know which foods can be toxic for them. Chocolate, macadamia nuts, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and foods containing the sugar substitute xylitol are all toxic to pets if ingested. Toxicity symptoms can range from vomiting and diarrhea to seizures, liver failure, and even death, depending on the food and amount ingested. As a rule of thumb, keep all the sweets out of your pet’s reach.


 Also known as rat poison, rodenticide is a poison that’s designed to lure mice and other rodents. Many rodenticides have delayed effects, so if an animal were to ingest it, it wouldn’t show symptoms until hours or even days later. This “animal” can easily be your pet, so it’s best to block off the rooms with rat poison in them with a gate, or simply avoid using it altogether. There are a number of safer alternatives to consider, such as humane traps. Sometimes just having a cat in the home is enough to send those little critters scurrying!

Toxic Plants

Whether you have a garden or flowers in your home, keep in mind that some plants are toxic to pets. One of the most common culprits is the lily plant, which is highly toxic to cats. Other toxic plants include tulips, azaleas, and rhododendrons. Symptoms of plant toxicity can range from diarrhea and vomiting to stomach problems and even kidney failure. Pet-proof your plants by either blocking your pet’s access to them or simply using artificial plants instead.

If you have any questions about how to protect your pet from household poisons, or if you’d like to request a house visit for one of the services available at Blue Door Veterinary Services, feel free to call us at 503-819-8040.

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February is National Pet Dental Health Month!


Dental health is a very important part of your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

What is veterinary dentistry, and who should perform it?

Veterinary dentistry includes the cleaning, adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pets’ teeth and all other aspects of oral health care. These procedures should be performed by a veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist. Subject to state or provincial regulation, veterinary technicians are allowed to perform certain dental procedures under the supervision of a veterinarian.

The process begins with an oral exam of your pet’s mouth by a veterinarian. Radiographs (x-rays) may be needed to evaluate the health of the jaw and the tooth roots below the gumline. Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, where you can’t see it, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation are performed under anesthesia. Dental cleaning includes scaling (to remove dental plaque and tartar) and polishing, similar to the process used on your own teeth during your regular dental cleanings.

Oral health in dogs and cats

Test Yourself!

How much do you know about your pet’s dental health? Take this quiz to find out.

Your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:

  • bad breath
  • broken or loose teeth
  • extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • pain in or around the mouth
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because a painful animal may bite.

Causes of pet dental problems

Although cavities are less common in pets than in people, they can have many of the same dental problems that people can develop:

  • broken teeth and roots
  • periodontal disease
  • abscesses or infected teeth
  • cysts or tumors in the mouth
  • malocclusion, or misalignment of the teeth and bite
  • broken (fractured) jaw
  • palate defects (such as cleft palate)

Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats – by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet. Periodontal disease doesn’t just affect your pet’s mouth. Other health problems found in association with periodontal disease include kidney, liver, and heart muscle changes.

It starts with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gumline can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gumline is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe).

The treatment of periodontal disease involves a thorough dental cleaning and x-rays may be needed to determine the severity of the disease. Your veterinarian or a board-certified veterinary dentist will make recommendations based on your pet’s overall health and the health of your pet’s teeth, and provide you with options to consider.

Why does dentistry require anesthesia?

When you go to the dentist, you know that what’s being done is meant to help you and keep your mouth healthy. Your dentist uses techniques to minimize pain and discomfort and can ask you how you are feeling, so you accept the procedures and do your best to keep still. Your pet does not understand the benefit of dental procedures, and he or she reacts by moving, trying to escape, or even biting.

Anesthesia makes it possible to perform the dental procedures with less stress and pain for your pet. In addition, anesthesia allows for a better cleaning because your pet is not moving around and risking injury from the dental equipment. If radiographs (x-rays) are needed, your pet needs to be very still in order to get good images, and this is unlikely without heavy sedation or anesthesia.

Although anesthesia will always have risks, it’s safer now than ever and continues to improve so that the risks are very low and are far outweighed by the benefits. Most pets can go home the same day of the procedure, although they might seem a little groggy for the rest of the day.

What can I do at home for my pet’s oral health?

What about “anesthesia-free” dental cleanings?

The American Veterinary Dental College does not recommend dental cleanings without anesthesia because they do not allow cleaning or inspection below the gumline, where most dental disease occurs, and can result in injury to the pet or the person performing the procedure.

Prevention of the most common oral disease in pets consists of frequent removal of the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth that are not kept clean. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is the single most effective thing you can do to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings, and may reduce the frequency or even eliminate the need for periodic dental cleaning by your veterinarian. Daily brushing is best, but it’s not always possible and brushing several times a week can be effective. Most dogs accept brushing, but cats can be a bit more resistant – patience and training are important.

There are many pet products marketed with claims that they improve dental health, but not all of them are effective. Talk with your veterinarian about any dental products, treats, or dental-specific diets you’re considering for your pet, or ask your veterinarian for their recommendation.



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Vaccinating Your Pet

Vet examining a dog

To protect your pet from contagious diseases, keep his essential vaccinations up-to-date. This is important even if your pet is kept mostly indoors. Many contagious diseases are airborne and your pet could easily be exposed through an open window. There is also always a risk that your pet could accidentally slip out the door. Boarding kennels, dog parks and grooming salons are all areas where your pet is likely to be exposed to contagious diseases so be sure to consult with your veterinarian before taking your pet to any of these places
It is also important to keep in mind that vaccinations take a few days to a few weeks to become effective.

Essential Vaccinations for Your Dog

  • Distemper, Hepatitis, Parainfluenza and Parvovirus (DHPP). Commonly called the “distemper shot,” this combination vaccine actually protects against the four diseases in its full name.
  • Rabies. Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies vaccinations for dogs are required by law in most states.

Other Vaccines for Dogs

Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your dog depending on where you live and your dog’s lifestyle:

  • Leptospirosis. Often included as part of the distemper combination vaccine (making it a DHLPP), this bacterial infection is most prevalent in moist climates where there are areas of standing or slow-moving water. This disease can also be spread from animals to humans.
  • Bordetella (commonly called “kennel cough”).  The bordetella virus causes an extremely contagious upper respiratory infection. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your dog goes to a dog park, groomer, boarding kennel, doggie daycare or dog show.
  • Lyme Disease. A bacterial infection carried by ticks, this disease is extremely prevalent in certain parts of the country — in particular, the east and west coasts and the areas around the Great Lakes.
  • Canine Influenza. This viral upper respiratory disease originated at a Florida racetrack in 2004 and has quickly spread across the country. Outbreaks are prevalent in animal shelters and boarding kennels.
  • Corona Virus. This virus infects the intestinal tract and is more prevalent in the southern United States.

Essential Vaccines for Your Cat

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis, Calicivirus and Panleukopenia (FVRCP). Commonly called the “distemper” shot , this combination vaccine protects against three diseases: feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus and panleukopenia (sometimes called “feline distemper”).
  • Rabies. Rabies virus is fatal and all mammals, including humans, are susceptible to infection. Rabies vaccinations for cats are required by law in most states.

Other Vaccines for Cats

Your veterinarian may also recommend other vaccines for your cat depending on where you live and your cat’s lifestyle:

  • Chlamydia. Chlamydia is a bacterial infection that causes severe conjunctivitis, and the vaccination for it is often included in the distemper combination vaccine (making it an FVRCP-C).
  • Feline Leukemia (Felv). Felv is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact, and this vaccine is generally only recommended for cats that go outdoors.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). FIV is a viral infection that is only transmitted through close contact, and this vaccine is generally only recommended for cats that go outdoors.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP). A viral infection most common in catteries and feral colonies, FIP is almost always fatal. Most house cats do not have a significant risk of contracting this disease.
  • Bordetella. This bacteria causes highly contagious upper respiratory infections. Your veterinarian may recommend this vaccine before your cat goes to a boarding kennel or groomer.


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