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Along with the warm weather and sunny days, spring brings a few health hazards. Every year we like to remind our clients of their health checklist for the season. From bacteria diseases spread through urine or ticks to worms and other parasites, see if you have your furry friend covered before you muddy, sunny adventures begin.

Intestinal Worms

How they are contracted:

Dogs and cats can get intestinal worms by eating stool that has parasite eggs in it. These eggs are microscopic and can be left behind after the stool has broken down, so your pet can still pick up parasites by eating grass or soil that has been contaminated. The eggs hatch and become adult worms in the intestines. In the case of tapeworms, another kind of intestinal worm, the eggs are picked up by an animal such as a rodent or flea. The egg hatches in that animal. When your dog or cat eats that animal, the tapeworm becomes an adult in your dog or cat’s intestines. This applies to cat and dogs that hunt, get into things in the woods or groom a flea off of their coat.

Problems:

– Can lead to poor growth in puppies
– Soft stool
– Blood in stool

Signs/symptoms:

Pets with worms do not always show signs, so regular deworming is recommended, but some pets have soft stool or you may see blood. When animals come to the veterinary hospital with these signs and are not dewormed regularly, the first step we take is to deworm the pet. Animals with tapeworm may have tiny white ovals on their stool or stuck to their anus. These look like small white seeds. If a cat or dog has a lot of worms in their system, they may vomit worms at some point.

How to prevent/treat:
There are many monthly deworming products available. For dogs, there are pills and topical treatments. For cats, there are several topical treatments. Often the topical treatments prevent fleas as well. The only exception is the treatment for tapeworm, which only comes in a pill. While these products only last for 1 month, even deworming every 2 to 3 months is helpful.

Ticks

How one acquires a tick:
Ticks sit on the long grass waiting for a dog or cat to walk by. Ticks then grab on and walk around until they find a feeding site. Usually, you cannot feel that a tick has attached. It is believed ticks take a day or two to feed and transmit disease.

Problems:
Ticks carry many diseases, including the bacteria that cause Lyme disease.

Signs/symptoms:
These can vary depending on the disease the tick has transmitted. If your dog seems unwell and you know they have had a tick, contact your veterinarian.

Examples include:
– lameness or joint pain
– coughing or laboured breathing
– vomiting, diarrhea or loss of appetite
– lethargy

How to prevent and treat:

Treatment depends on the disease and can include intravenous fluids and hospitalization along with antibiotics. There is a vaccine for the bacteria that causes Lyme disease. There are also monthly preventatives for ticks and a chewable tablet that lasts for 3 months. These products are for dogs. Talk to your vet about the best vaccine schedule and parasite prevention plan for your cat or dog. Then get out there and shake off that winter funk.

Written by Baleigh McWade Technician

The post Ticks & Worms appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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Hi everyone, I’m Mei! I own, Gill who works at PetFocus Bedford South. In October 2006 I was 10 months old and found myself at the Calgary North Veterinary Hospital after being surrendered by my family who couldn’t handle my energy level. I wasn’t scared though ’cause everyone was so nice to me. I saw this one girl in particular who I just felt drawn to. I escaped my kennel a couple of times and ran over to her and sat on her foot. I didn’t know this, but apparently, I was choosing her and she became my mom!

On my first night in my new home, I was a little nervous and excited. My mom had my bed all set up in her room, a food and water bowl and plenty of toys. I liked my toys, but my mom’s cousin Matt lived with us too and he had a soccer ball that I, unfortunately, bit a hole in, no matter how many times it was taken away from me! (Sorry Matty!) The next few months we did lots of walking with our friends (we made so many friends) and lots of training as I hadn’t had much of that. I had to wear this “thing” on my face (I guess it’s called a Halti) when we walked because I just wanted to PULL PULL PULL.

I became a blood donor at the hospital where my mom worked and I was told that I helped save lives! That made me happy because it seemed to make everyone else around me happy too. I loved Calgary, but little did I know, mom was longing to be back on the East coast where she grew up. I noticed things were being packed and our place seemed to have less and less “stuff” in it and one night a friend of ours picked us up in his truck and took us to the airport. Mom cried and cried as the nice airline people took me away in my crate but I had a towel that smelled like her and lots of comfy blankets so I wasn’t nervous at all. After lots of noise and darkness, I was pushed onto a conveyer belt and there was my mom! We were very excited to see one another.

That day we moved into our apartment where we would live for the next 5 years and I loved it. We went on great walks, there was a field down the street where I could run and I made lots of new friends. One day one of our friends took us to the OCEAN! I was in heaven. This was where I was meant to be. I could spend hours or even days swimming in any body of water but the ocean is the best. I especially like to drink that water even though it’s not good for me and gave me the trots on more than one occasion. Any chance I get to bolt to the water, I do so. I also enjoy camping. I’ve only been a couple times but I like it so much that I stay awake the whole time so I don’t miss anything.

Almost 6 years ago we moved into our house outside of the city. It’s a great place and much quieter than the apartment. I have 3 best friends who live just around the corner from me and a golf course down the road that I’m allowed on in the winter. Whenever my mom goes away I stay with two of my besties and their mom and it’s basically my own vacation(that I’m exhausted from when I go home). There are 2 little kids who live next door with their parents and I love them all so, so much! Especially the dad and the little girl. They always give me nice pets and tell me I’m a pretty girl. My mom’s parents and sister don’t live far away either so I see them a lot and my 9-year-old human cousin, who very well might be one of my most favourite humans. She and I have been kindred spirits ever since she was a wee baby.

Over the years we’ve had various canine houseguests and that is so much fun! I like being an only dog, but the occasional visitor/playmate is always welcome. I won’t lie though, I like it when they have to sleep in a crate instead of mom’s room. That way I still get her all to myself for the night. I’m 12 years old now and I really can’t say anything bad about my life so far. My mom loves me dearly and picks up my hind end whenever I’m too weak to do it for myself. She feeds me, gives me treats and is constantly kissing my head and telling me to never leave. My human and dog friends alike are all the best!!! So much love and attention I get. Everyone says I’m holding my own very well for an old girl so I’ll take it. All in all, I’ve to lead a pretty charmed life. I hope you enjoyed reading my story and if you ever see me hanging around the clinic with my mom, treats are always welcome! Woof Woof!

Written by Gill Peters, CCS

The post The Life of Mei appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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Along with the warm weather and sunny days, spring brings a few health hazards. Every year we like to remind our clients of their health checklist for the season. From bacteria diseases spread through urine or ticks to worms and other parasites, see if you have your furry friend covered before you muddy, sunny adventures begin.

Leptospirosis

How it is contracted:

The bacteria are spread in urine when animals urinate in puddles or on the ground. Dogs can pick up the bacteria by drinking contaminated water or if broken skin comes in contact with contaminated soil or water.

Humans can get leptospirosis if broken skin or mucous membranes come in contact with contaminated urine or soil. If you think your dog might have leptospirosis, be very careful around their urine, or fur that might have urine on it. When you bring your dog to the vet, please leave them in the car and tell the staff you have arrived so they can put you into an exam room right away to reduce the chance of spreading leptospirosis in the waiting room.

Problems:

In 2017, the Halifax area had an epidemic of Leptospirosis. There were more cases last year than some vets said they had seen in a 15 or 20-year career. More and more, we are recommending dogs be vaccinated for this disease. Leptospirosis is very contagious and can damage the liver and kidneys. It can be fatal.

Signs/symptoms:

– loss of appetite, weight loss
– drinking a lot of water, urinating more than usual
– vomiting or changes in your dog’s bowel movements
– fever, muscle stiffness
– yellow tinge to the eyes, gums or skin

How to prevent or treat:

There is a vaccine for 4 of the strains of Leptospirosis bacteria. After the initial vaccine, the dog needs a booster shot in 3 weeks. Then the vaccine is given yearly. If your dog is showing any signs of illness, please contact your veterinarian for an appointment. Leptospirosis can be treated but needs to be caught early. Treatment includes antibiotics and can include hospitalization for intravenous fluids and monitoring.

Written by Baleigh McWade, Technician

The post What is Leptospirosis? appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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There is no denying the benefits of having dogs and cats in our life, but as is true with all things, there are many downsides that some owners are unaware of such as diseases that can be passed on to humans. One crucial factor that is usually overlooked is the possibility of catching a disease from your pet. While the chance of this occurring is quite low, it only makes sense for owners to be aware of conditions that can be passed from dogs and cats to people. I have listed below a few of the most common:

1.Cat-scratch disease is a bacterial disease that people can get after being bitten or scratched by a cat. About half of cats will carry this bacteria at some point in their lifetime, although kittens younger than one year of age are most likely to take it. Most cats with this infection show no signs of illness; it is a hidden disease. People who are bitten or scratched by an affected cat may develop a mild infection days later at the site of the wound or bite. If not cleaned and treated correctly the infection can worsen and cause fever, headache, poor appetite, and exhaustion. Later, the person’s lymph nodes closest to the original scratch or bite can become swollen, tender, or painful. Seek medical attention if you believe you have the cat-scratch disease. When bitten it is an excellent idea to highlight the area with a marker and keep an eye out for the infection as it travels and the city gets red and hot to the touch.

2. Giardia is a parasite that causes diarrhea in animals and people. Giardia is transmitted to animals and people through food or water contaminated with stool. Symptoms for animals and people include diarrhea and dehydration. People can also have abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. Symptoms can last for weeks.

3. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease of people and animals that is transmitted through contaminated water and urine or other body fluids from an infected animal. It is difficult to detect early stages of leptospirosis in animals, but the disease can lead to kidney and liver failure if left untreated. People who become infected with leptospirosis might not have any signs of the disease. Others will have nonspecific flu-like signs within 2-7 days after exposure. These symptoms usually resolve without medical treatment but can reappear and lead to more severe disease

4. Ringworm is a condition caused by a fungus that can infect skin, hair, and nails of both people and animals. Ringworm is passed from animals to people through direct contact with an infected animal’s skin or hair. Cats and dogs infected with ringworm typically have small areas of hair loss and may have scaly or crusty skin, but some pets carrying ringworm have no signs of infection at all. Young animals are most commonly affected. Ringworm infections in people can appear in almost any area of the body. These infections are usually itchy. Redness, scaling, cracking of the skin, or a ring-shaped rash may occur. If the disease involves the scalp or beard, hair may fall out. Infected nails become discoloured or thick and may crumble.

5. Toxocara roundworms cause a parasitic disease known as toxocariasis. Cats, dogs, and people can become infected by swallowing roundworm eggs from the environment. Pets can also become infected as youngsters through their mother’s milk or while in utero. Infected puppies and kittens usually do not seem very sick. Those that do may have mild diarrhea, dehydration, rough coat, and a pot-bellied appearance.

In people, children are most often affected with roundworm. There are two forms of the disease in people: ocular larva migrans and visceral larva migrans. Ocular larva migrans happens when the larvae invade the retina (tissue in the eye) and cause inflammation, scarring, and possibly blindness. Visceral larva migrans occurs when the larvae invade parts of the body, such as the liver, lung, or central nervous system. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic disease that can spread to people and animals through contaminated soil, water, or meat, and from contact with stool from an infected cat. Cats are the primary source of infection to other animals but rarely appear sick. Most healthy people who become infected with Toxoplasma show no signs or symptoms. However, pregnant women and people who have weakened immune systems may be at risk for serious health complications.

Written by Deidre George, CCS

The post Diseases Transmitted from Pets to People appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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One great way to spend time with your 4 legged canine friends is to take them on a nice hike! With the warmer weather approaching, it is the perfect time to start hiking more.

Here are some things to keep in mind to make sure it is a safe and happy experience for both your dog and you. You are going to want to carry a bag with you that has the following items in it.

Here is a packing list:

  • a first aid kit
  • a collapsible water bowl
  • water
  • snacks
  • an orange reflective vest if hiking in the dark or during hunting season.

Before choosing a trail you want to try, do some research to make sure it is the right fit for you and your dog. Make sure the difficulty level of the trail is appropriate for your dog’s fitness level, and that the terrain is easy for your dog. If they aren’t up to a challenging hike yet, you can do short training hikes to build up their stamina.

Another thing is to be aware of your dog’s recall. Some dogs become extremely excited when they catch the scent of woodland creatures and can take off towards them. If you’re not confident in your pup’s recall, use a leash so that you have complete control at all times. Something else you can do is place a bell on their collar so that they can notify any wildlife that they are coming, and you are aware of where they are. Lastly, always have ID on your dog this way if they get away and lost, they can be reunited with you!

Written by Michelle Larkin, RVT

The post Hiking Safety appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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I have been in the working world for over 20 years now, and 15 of those were spent in business. I am new to this industry, just a little over a year and a half. I have to honestly say that this career is one I did not see myself having, but find myself truly lucky to be in. I have always been a pet lover and a pet owner, but there are so many areas that I did not understand until seeing the behind the scenes. Sometimes patients and clients react poorly to the vet profession. But,  I will be sincere I thought the same until my eyes were open.

This is a business, but not in the way that people may see it. For the doctors, technicians and veterinary assistants and our front staff to provide the best care for your pet, we need to make sure that we have the equipment and training is necessary in order to provide this. There are so many items that doctors need, bloodwork, X-rays, ultrasounds or other things to see what may be going on with your furry friend. Animals are very stoic and do not always show us when they are in pain, and tests like this will allow the doctor to find out what may be wrong and get a plan in place. They are 100% advocating for your pet and their care.

I see the concern in their eyes for not only the pet but the owner if they are receiving bad news. I also know the excitement they have for new pet owners. I see them cry when someone loses a beloved pet, but this usually happens after the client leaves the hospital. I have worked with some fantastic people over the years, but people who work in this industry are some of the most compassionate and caring people I have ever had the pleasure to work with. They genuinely love what they do.

So, the next time you think the industry is out for money, I hope some of the above makes you feel twice and realize that we are all doing what is best for your pet and their health.

Written by Robin Harnett, Site Coordinator

The post A Day in the Life of a Clinic Manager appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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On September 11, 2017 I came into this odd place that I’ve been to before, not knowing that this was going to be my new home. Suddenly, I was greeted by ladies welcoming me to my “new home” and calling me a “clinic cat.” They didn’t mind that I was 13 years old and in early kidney failure. I quickly explored the hospital and made myself at home. I had no issues adapting to my new space. I quite enjoyed it. Always having my friends around, getting scratches and love (and maybe a few too many treats). I had to learn that this isn’t just my space and that there will be other animals around during working hours, but that’s ok. I understand that other cats and dogs need to see the vet sometimes too.

Every morning my people arrive around 7:15 am. I greet them at my door, talking and giving head nudges. They quickly get my canned food ready with my kidney support/protect supplements mixed in. Then, I get my kibble! I love kibble. I’m 8kg, and I’m told I need to be on a diet, so they can only give me what’s recommended. I could eat more if they allowed me to. Afterwards, I get fresh water and then use the litterbox. My people are good at cleaning that right away. During the day I see quite a bit. Sometimes I’m out front looking out the window or watching cats and dogs arrive for their appointments. If they get too close, I run away. I’d rather watch from a distance.

Other times I’m in the treatment area, either sitting by my bowl waiting for more food, sleeping on my comfy chair or watching the team prepare for surgeries/doing x rays/helping animals that aren’t feeling good. I’m also sometimes found on the Doctor’s chairs in the office (I like to steal their seats). The Doctor’s love me though, so they don’t move me when I take their spot. Around supper time I get a snack of canned food with my kidney support/protect supplements mixed in again. Then, before my people leave for the night, I get more kibble! I’m put in a big room at night with my bed, comfy chair, litterbox and water. I’m told I’m not trusted to be let out overnight because they’re worried I’ll get into the bags of food up front. But to be honest, I probably would!

My life as a clinic cat is always changing and exciting. Everyday I see something different. My people always tell me how much they love me, but I don’t think they understand how much I love them too. They’ve done so much for me and I can’t thank them enough. I’m happy to be with such great people every day.

My name is Charlie, and I love being a clinic cat!

Written by Charlie, Clinic Cat & Alicia Dunbar VA

The post Charlie the Clinic Cat appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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The “toller” originated in Little River Harbour in Yarmouth County and was officially declared the Nova Scotia Provincial dog in 1995. They are a medium-sized breed and the smallest of the retrievers weighing between 30-50 pounds and stand at about 20 inches. They are often mistaken for a mini golden retriever. The toller is highly intelligent and typically has endless amounts of energy.

Their name comes from their ability to lure waterfowl such as “ducks” which is called tolling. They look similar to the fox allowing them to frolick along shorelines attracting birds to come in to protect their nests on shore. The hunter who stays hidden then calls the dog back, shoots his prey, and the toller is sent out to retrieve. Although they excel at this, they were also bred to be a perfect overall hunting dog.

The toller is very athletic, well muscled, compact, medium boned and powerful. They can be found in various shades of red and typically have at least one white marking at the tip of the tail, feet, chest and blaze although some may have no white at all. Complete with a water-repellent double coat and a dense undercoat this dog loves to swim no matter the temperature of the water. Due to their high energy and intelligence they are happiest when they have a job to do so if not hunting they make excellent agility, obedience, and search and rescue dogs. If they aren’t stimulated, they can become bored and destructive.

While tollers can be very social dogs, socialization has to start from an early age. They are lovely with their family and people they know but can be reserved around strangers. Tollers have an intense prey drive so need to be exposed to as much as possible at a young age, especially to cats. They are a relatively healthy breed with no significant health concerns.

Featured pup is my duck toller “Bonnie Roslyn” which is Gaelic for beautiful little redhead AKA Rozzie. She is a ten year old full of beautiful energy toller. She certainly has her issues with social behaviour and has a massive prey drive, but she is a healthy, happy dog that adores her family.

Written by Erin Pettipas, VA

The post Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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Indoor vs. Outdoor Cats

There are many opinions between indoor and outdoor cats. There are various things to consider on each spectrum.

As a Veterinary Technician, who has owned both indoor and outdoor cats, it is of my opinion that keeping your cats indoors is ideal. Some would argue that cats require the mental and physical stimulation of an outdoor lifestyle, although statistics have shown that an outdoor cat’s life expectancy is dramatically lower in comparison to indoor cats.

Outdoor Cat Risks:

  • Hunting can increase risk of various bacterial infections, parasite infections as well as put native/protected wildlife populations at risk
  • Injury/Death as a result of fights, vehicular traffic, wildlife, exposure, disease etc.
  • Poisoning (gardening chemicals, toxic plant ingestion, pesticides/rodenticides etc.)
  • Theft/Cruelty
  • More likely to contract some of the following diseases:

Indoor Cat Tips:

Although most cats tolerate an indoor lifestyle very well, they will be at higher risk for obesity/boredom. Consider some of the following recommendations to ensure your cat remains happy and healthy.

  • Feed the appropriate diet/calories to your cat with controlled feedings
  • Play with your cat to provide exercise and mental stimulation
  • Provide scratch posts, perches and places for your kitty to hide
  • Provide your cat with interactive toys/games or videos for entertainment
  • Allow your cat to enjoy some fresh air and entertainment sitting on the window sill

Minimizing Risks:
If you feel that your cat just cannot tolerate an indoor lifestyle, consider the following to help reduce the risks associated

  • Keep your cat indoors overnight & during high traffic times
  • Vaccinate and treat with parasite preventatives
  • Attach identification with a collar built with a safety release
  • Have your cat microchipped
  • Have your cat spayed/neutered to prevent wandering/territorial aggression

The Purfect Balance:

  • Consider acquiring a harness and supervising any outdoor activity with your cat
  • Consider providing an enclosed outdoor area in which your cat can climb/sunbathe and get some fresh air!

Remember that your cat should be examined by a Veterinarian at least once a year regardless of its indoor/outdoor status. Your Veterinarian can help you make decisions on diet, environmental enrichment, behaviour etc. and ensure your cat is receiving adequate vaccinations and parasite prevention relative to their risk assessment.

Written by Jillian Porter, Veterinary Technician

The post Indoor vs. Outdoor appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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The last time you took your dog or cat to the Veterinarian, he or she may have told you your pet needed a “dental.” I think that word leads our clients to believe that a dental is a simple procedure, that they can take it or leave it. There is much more to the entire process than these two syllables would have you think.

The proper term is a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment, or COHAT. The process starts during your pet’s physical exam, but can only be done correctly under full general anesthesia. Both dogs and cats need their teeth checked every year, and will likely need cleaning and a thorough exam more than once in their lifetime.

A COHAT is day surgery, meaning your pet is dropped off in the morning and picked up later that afternoon or evening. Once under anesthetic, every side of every tooth is examined. Every surface of the tooth is scaled to remove plaque and tartar, even the far side of the very back teeth. These would be impossible to reach without the patient being completely unconscious. We have to be able to open the mouth wide to reach the very back. In the end, the tooth enamel is polished, just like a dental hygienist does for people. While scaling cleans the teeth, it also leaves microscopic scratches that are a great place for new bacteria to live. Polishing smooths out these scratches, so there is no place for bacteria to set up shop.

The Veterinarian or Technician also measures the “pocket depth” of each tooth; how far a specialized probe will fit down the space between the tooth and the gum around it. All animals have a standard pocket depth, but the more diseased the teeth and gums, the more profound this pocket becomes – and the more space for bacteria to grow. This area is also carefully cleaned, as the dental disease starts below the gum line. Knocking the hard lumps of tartar off the visible part of the tooth may make it look clean, but it is vital to clean the gum line.

Radiographs (x-rays) are an essential part of any COHAT. Radiographs show us what is going on in the tooth roots and the jaw bone. A tooth may look okay above the gum line, but radiographs show us where the jaw bone is no longer holding the tooth firmly in place. These teeth need to be extracted.

Looking at the roots is very important for cats that develop stomatitis, a condition in which their body absorbs their teeth. This can be seen on a radiograph where the roots of the teeth are disappearing into the jaw bone. It is a very painful condition, and the tooth is usually removed, solving the problem for that tooth. In some cases, the roots are fully absorbed, and all the Veterinarian can do is cut off the crown of the tooth and sew the gum up over the roots to let the body continue to absorb them.

Radiographs are also used after a tooth has been removed, to make sure all of the roots are gone. Rotten teeth can break while they are being extracted. Very large teeth need to be cut into two or three pieces to be removed. We then take a radiograph to make sure there are no bits left in the gums.

You can see why it is essential for your pet to be under anesthetic for a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment. They need to be still, and their mouth completely relaxed so we can reach all the way into the back of their mouth to get every part of every tooth. To take radiographs, a small probe is put in their mouth near the tooth, and they cannot be chewing on this probe. The anesthesia makes the whole process more comfortable for a cat or dog. Even if you go to the dentist regularly, you know it is uncomfortable to have your teeth scraped and to have them cleaned under the gums. Imagine a dog who has never brushed his teeth in 10 years – those gums would be pretty sore. The anesthesia includes pain control and keeps the patient comfortable for the entire procedure.

General anesthesia is also necessary for dental extractions. Rotten or broken teeth need to be removed, and this cannot be done on a dog or cat that is awake. Teeth can be challenging to extract, even when they need to come out, and the gums have to be sewn shut afterwards.

The American Veterinary Dental College has some great information about dental procedures and photos showing the stages of the dental disease in pets. If your pet’s mouth looks like any of their photos, they are in need of a Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.

For more information, talk to your Veterinarian, Veterinary Technician, or visit these sites:
American Veterinary Dental College – information for pet owners
American Veterinary Dental College and anesthesia-free dentistry

PetFocus Bedford South – dog and cat dental care, and oral health information.
https://petfocus.ca/bedford-south/importance- dental-health- pets/
https://petfocus.ca/bedford-south/cat/dental- care/
https://petfocus.ca/bedford-south/dog/dental-care/

Written by Baleigh McWade, RVT

The post Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment appeared first on PetFocus Veterinary Hospital.

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