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For as long as we’ve been taking care of pets, making your pet’s visit a fear free experience has been a top priority. We care deeply about our pet patients, and helping them through a veterinary exam or treatment with as little stress and anxiety is important to us. A fear free experience at the vet also makes future vet visits easier on you!

Since the Fear Free initiative was launched in 2016, veterinary hospitals across the country have been participating in a certification program that trains veterinary teams how to provide a fear free experience for pets.

Androscoggin Veterinary Hospital is proud that our staff and doctors have undergone this special training to ensure that your pet’s visit is as stress free as possible.

It’s In the Details

At its core, fear free is about adapting our facility and our team’s approach to meet your pet’s individual needs and make them feel more comfortable.

Here are some things that go into the details of a fear free environment at our practice.

No eye contact – animals are often uncomfortable when they are in new environments. To reduce this anxiety, we will avoid eye contact with your pet when they first arrive, while still paying close attention to your pet’s body language and physical cues.

The treats have it – many pets are motivated by food, so we’ll use treats – lots of them! – to reward, distract, and motivate your pet during the exam and treatments. With treats, we can often earn their trust. Special treats like spray cheese (really!) are on hand for extra help, but if you have treats your pet especially likes, feel free to bring them.

No dogs allowed – there is nothing more stressful for a cat than being greeted by an exuberant dog. Sitting in the same area and making eye contact with a dog can turn a cat into an anxiety ridden mess. To avoid this stress, we have two separate waiting areas for cats and dogs. We also have a separate cat-only exam room, full of toys and cat trees for them to climb and play on!

Non slip surfaces – dogs who are older, ill, or injured may be stressed by slippery floors and exam table surfaces. We use yoga mats and towels to provide a cushioned, non-slip surface for them to stand on when we examine them. This small comfort can significantly reduce anxiety for our older patients.

Pheromones abound – pheromones can put our cat and dog patients at ease. We use Feliway and Adaptil diffusers and wipes throughout our hospital to achieve this effect.

Keep calm but don’t always carry on – there may be many things we want to accomplish during your pet’s exam. But we are aware of how much each individual can tolerate in any given day. Your pet’s emotional well being is important to us. We will make sure to do the critical things first, and save the rest for last. That way, if it seems like they are at the end of their tolerance, we can try again another day.

Fear Free and Loving It

Providing a fear free experience for your pet is such a gratifying feeling for us. We understand that their emotional health is just as important as their physical well being. Winning a pet’s trust and being able to make a potentially scary experience easier for pets is extremely rewarding, and leads to better outcomes for the patient. That’s why being a fear free practice is so important to us!
We are looking forward to showing you more about what the fear free experience is like at Androscoggin Veterinary Hospital. Schedule an appointment today!

The post No Fear: How Our Fear Free Initiative Benefits Your Pet appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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Leptospirosis has been well documented over the last century. Despite our understanding, the disease continues to affect all mammals (although it’s rare in cats). Clusters or hotspots commonly occur outside of Maine, but canine leptospirosis is ubiquitous, and it’s a zoonotic disease. That’s why it remains an absolute priority that your dog – and the people around them – are protected from this bacterial infection.

In the Elements

Leptospirosis is a disease caused by numerous strains of the bacteria leptospira. Typically found in contaminated water or soil, leptospirosis can also be passed on through direct contact with an infected animal.

Cases of canine leptospirosis may result after drinking from a contaminated water source, like a puddle or a shared water bowl at the dog park. Urine from an infected animal can pass the disease, and a dog can pick up the bacteria from practically anything on the ground outside.

Persistence

Leptospira can remain in the environment for many weeks. Infections occur when a dog’s mucous membranes come into contact with the bacteria. However, having an open wound or cut, getting bitten by an infected animal, or eating infected tissue can pass the disease. Unborn puppies can also become infected through their mother’s placenta.

Hot Beds

While the northeast has fewer cases than the southern and midwestern states, canine leptospirosis is still prevalent in Maine. Owner awareness is key to lowering the incidence of this terrible disease.

The Good Work

While wild animals are primarily responsible for shedding the bacteria and contaminating the environment, there are things you can do to prevent canine leptospirosis:

  • Maintain current vaccinations (the canine leptospirosis vaccine can effectively protect your dog for 12 months).
  • Prohibit your dog from licking up any standing water.
  • Do not allow them to hop into still bodies of water (any open wounds or scratches are a potential entry point for the bacteria).
  • Limit all possible chances of exposure (break up any fights with other animals, etc.).
Canine Leptospirosis Symptoms

Several factors can influence the symptoms of canine leptospirosis, such as the strain of bacteria, the dog’s immune system response, and the organs affected. However, common signs include:

  • Fever
  • Decreased appetite/weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Muscle pain or tenderness
  • Reluctance to move around
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration (although sometimes dogs will drink excessive water and over-urinate)
  • Jaundice (yellow-looking eyes or skin)
  • Cough

Canine leptospirosis should be diagnosed and treated right away. A Lepto test, complete blood count, chemistry panel, and urinalysis are all required for confirmation.

Hospitalization, IV fluid therapy, and antibiotics may be necessary. Because canine leptospirosis can cause renal failure and vascular collapse, it’s necessary to seek emergency care. This disease can be fatal if left untreated.

The Transfer

People can get leptospirosis from the environment or through exposure to their infected dog’s urine. If your dog ever needs treatment for canine leptospirosis, it’s imperative that you adhere to strict sanitation guidelines. Wash your hands after handling an infected pet or cleaning up after them. Isolation may be required if you live in a multi-pet home.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if it’s time to vaccinate or if you’d like additional information.

The post What All Dog Owners Need to Know About Canine Leptospirosis appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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The winter thaw is on the horizon, and with that comes a whole host of creepy, crawly, and voraciously hungry bugs. Although we may all be looking forward to balmier weather, the mosquitoes that come with spring and summer are definitely not welcome! Not only are they annoying you, but they could pose a serious and deadly risk to your pets.

With their bite, mosquitoes can transmit a roundworm called heartworm that can cause shortness of breath, lethargy, collapse, exercise intolerance and even death in dogs and cats. Heartworm is found in all 50 states and year round – including Maine! So we thought it a prudent time to have a heart to heart about this health concern for our pets.

The Life Cycle of the Heartworm

The adult heartworm lives in your pet’s heart and pulmonary arteries, and causes permanent and life threatening damage to your pet’s heart and other organs. The heartworm life cycle is long and complex, giving good reason for a multi pronged approach to prevention.

  • A mosquito bites an infected animal (dog, cat, or wildlife) and takes up the heartworm larvae, or microfilariae into its body.
  • The microfilariae develop in the mosquito’s body 10 to 30 days
  • The mosquito bites a pet, injecting the microfilariae into the pet’s bloodstream. here , the microfilariae develop further over the course of several weeks. They finally make their way to the pet’s heart and pulmonary arteries, where they mature into foot long adult heartworms, capable of reproduction
  • After 6-7 months of infection, the adult heartworms release new microfilariae into the pet’s blood stread, and the process begins again.
The Signs of Heartworm

Signs and symptoms of heartworm may be subtle at first, and differ between dogs and cats. Signs are similar to many other diseases, and diagnosis is rarely made solely on the basis of clinical signs.

Signs in cats:

  • Wheezing
  • Sudden onset cough
  • Vomiting
  • Rapid breathing
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden death

Signs in dogs:

  • Lethargy
  • Exercise intolerance
  • Soft, dry cough
  • Weight loss
  • Rapid breathing
  • Bulging chest
  • Collapse
Diagnosis

Diagnosis of heartworm is made through blood tests. At Androscoggin Animal Hospital, we recommend annual testing for heartworms. We now also have the ability to not only test for the presence of adult heartworms, but also for the presence of microfilariae in the blood. As a result, we can detect heartworm infection earlier, and thereby prevent extensive organ damage. Early detection of disease saves your pet discomfort and pain, and can potentially save you money in the long run.

The Heart of the Problem: Treatment

Cats are resistant hosts for heartworm, and typically only have 1-6 adult heartworms present. However, the cat’s body mounts an immune response that kills the heartworms, but also poses a great risk. As the heartworms die, they break into pieces, which can get stuck in the pulmonary arteries, causing lack of oxygen and sudden death. If we don’t know that the cat is at risk, we can’t monitor and mitigate problems. Sadly, there is no current treatment for heartworm in cats.

In dogs, adult heartworms living in the organs and arteries typically number in the 30’s. Treatment is given by a series of injections, which kills the adult heartworms over the course of several weeks. Since dead and dying heartworms can cause blockage of the pulmonary arteries, heartworm treatment always poses a serious risk of respiratory emergency. For this reason, dogs must be hospitalized for several hours after injections, and must be on exercise restriction for the duration of treatment.

The Best News: Heartworm Prevention

The best news about heartworm disease is that it’s preventable.

We carry several options in monthly oral heartworm preventives that are safe, effective, and far less costly than treatment. Give us a call to learn more about starting or continuing your dog and cat on heartworm prevention.

Preventives must be given on a strict schedule. It takes about 51 days for the microfilariae to mature into adult heartworms, and interrupting this process on a continuous basis is key to prevention. As we mentioned, testing for the presence of heartworms and microfilariae is an important component to prevention and early detection as well.

Talk to us about the best options for your pet at their next annual preventive care visit. Together we can give them a lifetime of good health!

The post A Heart To Heart: Heartworm Prevention in Pets appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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If you’ve ever read one of our pet care blogs, you know that we always have an eye on pet safety. The prevention of illness or injury tops our list of priorities, and we want our valued community of pet owners to know that we’re always here to answer questions and address concerns. To that end, we’re proud to deliver relevant information to our clients each month in the form of our pet care blogs.  

Thank You for Reading Our Pet Care Blogs!

Our veterinarians, staff members, and customer service representatives extend a heartfelt thank you to our readers and clients. Our goal is to encourage responsible pet ownership and highlight major priorities of pet health care. Thank you so much for being part of this endeavor!

Now, without further ado, please enjoy Androscoggin Animal Hospital’s top 5 pet care blogs of 2018!

#5: The Keys to Pet Hiking Safety
The hills are alive with the sound of music (of course), but they’re also brimming with wildlife, budding foliage, and beautiful trails. It’s time to get out into nature and enjoy all that Maine has to offer – a fact that’s not lost on an adventurous dog. Everyone’s chomping at the bit to get out for a better view, but without a thorough understanding – and application – of pet hiking safety, your day trip could go from lovely to dangerous in minutes. Read more!

#4: Flea and Tick Prevention to Protect Your Pet (and Family)
They’re here! That’s right… Flea and tick season is in the works, and for those of us living in regions rife with these warm weather pests, prevention is a top priority. Whether meandering through the woods with your favorite Fido or combatting the flea invasions which always seems to occur this time of year, the question is: how do we keep the parasites away? 

#3: Fork in the Road: How Is a Cat Friendly Veterinarian Better than the Rest?
Because we understand and value this important decision, Androscoggin Animal Hospital went through the training, education, and evaluation necessary to earn the title of Fear Free Certified Professional. We maintain the distinction of a Cat Friendly Practice, and we’re thrilled we can pass the best possible care onto your cat. So, what are the benefits of having a cat friendly veterinarian? Meow?

#2: Making Senior Pet Care a Priority
They’re always delighted to see us, they forgive us instantly, and snuggling with them is one of the best parts of our day. There’s no doubt that our pets mean the world to us. Whether we raised them from babyhood or adopted an older pet, providing the best care as they age should be a top priority for every owner. Read on!

#1: Puppy and Kitten Vaccination
Puppies and Kittens are born with an immune system that is immature so they are very susceptible to infection with common diseases. When Puppies and Kittens are not properly vaccinated they are at risk of infection from these life threatening diseases that are easily prevented with proper and timely vaccination. Keep reading…

A Healthy New Year

As we begin a new year, we hope 2019 is filled with good health and happiness for all the animals and loved ones in your life. We look forward to continue serving you and your pet. Cheers!

The post Androscoggin Animal Hospital Looks Back at Our Top Pet Care Blogs of 2018 appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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Androscoggin Animal Hospital | Pet Healt.. by Androscoggin Animal Hospital Staff - 8M ago

They’re always delighted to see us, they forgive us instantly, and snuggling with them is one of the best parts of our day. There’s no doubt that our pets mean the world to us. Whether we raised them from babyhood or adopted an older pet, providing the best care as they age should be a top priority for every owner.  

At Androscoggin Animal Hospital, we can’t think of anything better than seeing a cherished pet live a long and happy life. We’re always here to support you and your pet, which is why we want to outline some of our top senior pet care strategies.

A Changing Landscape

In general, dogs and cats are considered “senior” between 6-9 years of age. Specifics can vary depending on factors such as breed, size, and species. Senior pets are at greater risk for many of the same illnesses and conditions that tend to affect older humans (e.g., cancer, arthritis, diabetes, heart disease). Typical signs of aging may include:

  • Lumps, bumps, or other skin issues
  • Increased or strained urination (usually as a result of kidney disorders)
  • Joint-related problems
  • Dental disease
  • Intestinal troubles
  • Vision and/or hearing loss
  • Cognitive ailments

Although consistent preventive care is important for all pets, it’s recommended that senior pets receive wellness exams twice a year. Pets age more rapidly than humans, so regular veterinary care is a must for the early diagnosis and treatment of age-related health issues.

Senior Pet Care Basics

Senior pet care doesn’t end with your pet’s biannual wellness exams. Tailored adjustments to your regular pet care routine, along with the love and affection you already give your sweet pet, are all that’s needed to keep them healthy and comfortable. Consider the following:

  • Your pet’s metabolism and nutritional requirements may change as they age, so choosing the right food to meet their needs is more important than ever. Your veterinarian can help you find the right nutrition plan for your pet.
  • Daily exercise helps senior pets maintain a healthy weight and reduces the pain and stiffness associated with arthritis. Raised food and water bowls, orthopedic beds, and other products are available for pets with mobility issues.
  • Pets tend to become more sensitive to the elements as they age; paying extra attention to extremes in temperature and humidity is important. Keep senior pets inside on very warm or cold days, and make use of heated beds or cooling pads as needed.
  • Good oral hygiene is extremely important for senior pets – it can literally add years to their lives. It’s never too late to start a daily brushing routine (always use a pet-specific toothbrush and toothpaste). Regular comprehensive dental exams and cleanings are also critical.
We Can Help

Although your pet will never complain, older pets are likely to experience some physical discomfort as they age. Talk with your veterinarian about pain management options for your pet, including our cold laser therapy services.

Early detection is critical when it comes to senior pet care. Please don’t hesitate to contact the team at Androscoggin Animal Hospital if you notice any changes in your pet’s overall health or personality. Our Petly Wellness Plans make it easy and affordable to provide your senior pet with the preventive care they need to stay healthy. Give us a call to find out more!

The post Making Senior Pet Care a Priority appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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We love the fun, unique personalities of cats. But behind their mysterious behaviors lies a very important secret: it can sometimes be hard to tell whether your cat is well or not.

We’ve all heard the adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and this is never more true than with the health of our pets. Cats need preventive care, and avoiding illness is always easier on you and your beloved feline (not to mention your wallet). So, let’s take a look at why preventive care for cats is so important!

Survival Strategy

The reason it can be difficult to tell when your cat is sick has to do with their survival strategy. In the wild, cats who are perceived as weak can become a target for predators. In order to survive, they’ve developed a deep natural instinct to hide signs of pain or discomfort.

This, of course, means you may not know your cat is sick until an illness has become advanced. This leads us to the importance of preventive care for cats.

Preventive Care for Cats

Preventive care revolves around regularly scheduled physical exams to maintain optimum health.

Cats age faster than humans, so they should see their doctor more often than we see ours. For example, a 2 year old cat would be the equivalent of 25 in human years. After that, cats mature at a rate of 4 years for every 1 human year. This rapid aging process makes preventive care for cats even more important.

Healthy Guidelines

The American Animal Hospital Association and the American Veterinary Medical Association have standardized guidelines focused on preventive care for cats. Below are their recommendations:

History – Your first hand knowledge and observations of your cat at home can be invaluable to guiding your veterinarian’s focus during an exam. Questions to consider include the amount they eat and drink, whether they go outside or not, if there are other pets in your household, and questions about their activity and demeanor.

Physical examinations – Even healthy cats should be examined at least once a year and preferably twice. A comprehensive physical can uncover many issues, including enlarged lymph nodes, masses in the abdomen, gum disease, heart murmurs, vision problems, and signs of arthritis. The physical exam is our first and best tool to discover important information about your cat’s health.

Testing – Since we can’t see inside your cat’s body, blood and urine testing help us complete the whole picture of your cat’s health. These diagnostic tests can help us detect kidney, liver, and heart disease, heartworm infection, hormonal imbalances, and infectious diseases.

Dental care – It’s estimated that 85% of cats have some form of dental disease by the age of 4. Simply put, dental disease will shorten your cat’s life. The bacteria that causes dental disease can travel to internal organs, causing life-threatening damage. All cats can benefit from an annual dental cleaning, and those with dental problems may need twice yearly cleanings.

Parasite control and prevention – Fleas, ticks, and heartworms can all wreak havoc on your cat’s health (especially heartworm disease, which can be fatal to felines). Luckily, prevention is safe, easy, and effective. Intestinal parasites also affect cats, so an annual fecal examination for parasite eggs is recommended. Monthly topical or oral medications can be tailored to your cat’s environment and lifestyle.

Vaccinations – Vaccines are crucial to keeping your cat disease free. Both core and optional vaccines will be discussed and administered based on your cat’s general health, age, and lifestyle.

Nutrition and weight management – Studies show that leaner cats live longer lives. We can determine your cat’s body condition score and discuss ways to help maintain a healthy weight that include feeding and exercise recommendations.  

Since our cats can’t tell us when something is wrong, it’s up to us to make sure they stay healthy. Preventive care for cats will help them live longer, healthier lives. Contact us today to schedule your cat’s next preventive care exam.

The post Why Preventive Care for Cats is Important appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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A great deal goes into choosing the right veterinarian for your pet. Sometimes, close proximity plays a part in the decision. Other times, the recommendation of a close friend or colleague informs the best possible choice.

Because we understand and value this important decision, Androscoggin Animal Hospital went through the training, education, and evaluation necessary to earn the title of Fear Free Certified Professional. We maintain the distinction of a Cat Friendly Practice, and we’re thrilled we can pass the best possible care onto your cat. So, what are the benefits of having a cat friendly veterinarian?

The Connection

Pets have various physical conditions that need to be tended to from time to time. Whether it’s a sudden illness or injury, we uphold the importance of state of the art medical care alongside the careful observance of highly skilled, compassionate staff members.

It’s critical to see and effectively treat pets when they need us, but while they’re here, we’d like to tend to their emotional or mental states as well. With that in mind, we forge ahead as a Fear Free practice, and a Cat Friendly one to boot!

Mixed Company?

To achieve our special status, we had to demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the unique needs of cats. We work towards creating an environment that is not threatening to cats and, in fact, we welcome them with open arms. Since many cats bristle at the mere thought of being in the presence of dogs and even other cats, we have a separate exam room for felines only with a cat tree, hidey spots, and toys for them, too.

Our veterinarians and support staff know how to specially handle cats and interact with them in soft, slow, sensitive, and subtle ways.

Stress and a Cat Friendly Veterinarian

Stress is bad for our health, and the same is true for animals. Heightened stress hormone levels can have deleterious effects on a cat. If already suffering from an illness or injury, stress-related tension or anxiety can exacerbate problems.

When a cat’s emotional and physical stress is regulated, we have a better chance of effectively diagnosing and treating ailments.

The Numbers Are In

Even though there are far more pet cats than dogs, they are less likely to receive quality, routine veterinary care. Part of this has to do with their utter resistance to travel, but many cats have negative, even traumatic, experiences at veterinary practices that do not take their special needs into account.

To change these telling numbers, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) designed the Cat Friendly Practice distinction. Given the opportunity to routinely record baseline values and compare them to future changes, we can support the lifelong health and wellness of cats. This allows us to treat issues before they cause irreparable and expensive damage to a cat’s vitality.

Always Here for You

We hope that our clients appreciate the approach of a cat friendly veterinarian. What’s more is that we believe that our patients, the cats we know and love, deserve this gold standard of care.

As always, we are here for you and your cat. Please let us know if you have any questions or concerns.

The post Fork in the Road: How Is a Cat Friendly Veterinarian Better than the Rest? appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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Our four-legged friends tend to be active and adventurous, and we love that about them! However, at times they can get into things they shouldn’t. Hopefully, your pets have never ingested anything that caused a pet emergency, but it’s always good to be prepared.

With that in mind, and in celebration of Pet Poison Prevention Week, Androscoggin Animal Hospital has put together a few tips and ideas for how to prevent pet poisoning in and around your home.

Pet Toxicity 101

Poisons act fast, so if you feel your pet has ingested something potentially toxic, you should act fast, too. Give us a call right away. Don’t spend time on the internet trying to figure things out, or only leave a voicemail for your veterinarian. If it’s after business hours, seek emergency care immediately.

Pet poisoning signs can be subtle at first, and may not even show up for several days after your pet ingests something toxic. Symptoms your pet may experience include:

  • Drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Vomiting
  • Pale or grayish gum color
  • Racing heartbeat
  • Weakness/ collapse
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Muscle tremors
  • Excessive thirst or urination
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
Prevent Pet Poisoning in Your Home

There are a few things that you want to be aware of in your home that could be potentially toxic to pets. As always, keep these things out of their reach.

People food – People foods, such as chocolate, bread dough, fatty table scraps, onions/garlic/chives, raisins and grapes, macadamia nuts, and Xylitol (sugar substitute) can all be toxic to pets.

Medications – Some human medications can be very toxic to pets. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) and Ibuprofen (Advil) are two medications found in many medicine cabinets that can cause big problems for pets. Keep human and pet medications separate, read the labels to make sure you’re giving the correct meds to your pets, and make sure that you don’t share unprescribed medication between pets.

Flowers and plants – There are certain flowers and plants commonly used around the home that can be toxic and even deadly to pets, such as lilies and cyclamen. Also, avoid toxic holiday plants like holly and poinsettias.

Cleaning supplies – Cleaning chemicals can be irritating to pets noses, mouths, and can be toxic if ingested. Ventilate your home when cleaning, keep pets away from “helping” you when you clean, and stow all cleaning supplies and chemicals out of their reach.

Essential oils and liquid potpourri – Essential oils and liquid potpourri can damage organs if ingested. In addition, even the lovely smells from them can be very irritating and potentially harmful to pets. Talk to your veterinarian before using any essential oils around (or on) your pets, and give them a way to get away from diffused smells.

Pet Poison Prevention in Your Yard and Garden

It’s amazing (and somewhat frightening) to realize how many things in your yard and garden might pose a poisoning risk to your pets. Common sense and precaution are good watchwords. If you think your pet has eaten something poisonous, don’t wait to seek treatment. Contact veterinarian today!

Here’s a basic list of things to watch for:

  • Bone and blood meal
  • Fertilizers
  • Mushrooms
  • Plants
  • Cocoa mulch
  • Rat and mouse poison
  • Snail bait

Give us a call if you have any questions about pet poison prevention in your home and yard. We are here to help you keep your pet safe.

The post Veterinarian Tips 101: All About Pet Poison Prevention appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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Androscoggin Animal Hospital | Pet Healt.. by Androscoggin Animal Hospital Staff - 8M ago

Most of us brush our teeth twice a day and see the dentist at least annually, but many of our pets don’t have the benefit of regular pet dental care. It’s true, we love their smiles no matter what they look like. But did you know that it’s not only a great smile and fresh breath that counts?

It is estimated that over 85% of pets over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease. Dental disease can be present without you even knowing it and can cause bad breath, bleeding gums, infection under the gumline, tooth loss, and even compromise your pet’s internal organs.

If you already have an at-home pet dental care program, congratulations! If not, let Androscoggin Animal Hospital help you prevent dental disease with a team approach.

It Starts at Home

Regular inspection of your pet’s teeth is important in preventing dental disease. For great oral health in your pet, start early! Your kitten or puppy can learn to accept at-home pet dental care more easily that an older pet, but even adult pets can learn how to have their teeth brushed with enough patience and positivity.

Tartar may appear as goldish-brown buildup near the gumline. Gingivitis can be recognized by red, swollen, and/or bleeding gums. If you see these, contact us right away.

Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
  • Get the right tools. A canine toothbrush is curved to reach back teeth. For kitties, use a fingerbrush. Use only pet toothpaste as human toothpaste can cause an upset stomach in pets.
  • Find a calm time and make your pet comfortable.
  • Touch the teeth and gums without the toothbrush.
  • Introduce the toothpaste by letting your pet lick a tiny bit from your finger.
  • Add the toothpaste to the toothbrush.
  • Lift their lip to see their front teeth, and start with brushing the top front teeth.
  • Next, brush the top back teeth.
  • Brush the bottom front and then the bottom back teeth.
  • Reward your pet!

It may take days and even weeks to get the hang of this. Don’t give up! Give lots of praise at every step above. Keep sessions short, fun, and positive, and make it a part of their routine.

Dental Diets

Your veterinarian might recommend a dental diet for your pet. Diets that have irregular shaped kibble have been shown to be effective in preventing plaque and tartar. These diets, such as Hills Dental Diet T/D, work either by abrasive action or by preventing the mineralization of tartar. Check with us for a recommendation.

Chews and Treats

Be aware that some dental chews on the market can actually harm your pet’s teeth and gums if they are too hard. Make sure that you stick to a chew that has been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council. This organization makes sure that dental chews and treats are actually effective in preventing plaque and tartar buildup.

The VOHC, though a good place to start, does not test for safety. To prevent tooth fractures, please make sure that any chew or toy you give is soft and bendable. If you have questions, ask us.

Pet Dental Care Is a Team Effort

At-home dental care is an important component of overall dental health. The rest of the equation is a dental exam and cleaning in our office. A professional dental cleaning is the only way to clean plaque, tartar, and bacteria from under the gumline, and to assess any problem areas with a comprehensive examination.

Give us a call to schedule your a dental exam, or to answer any questions about pet dental care.

The post At-Home Pet Dental Care appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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A new year has begun, and we’re sure that some of you have added a new pet to your family this holiday season! New pets are such an exciting way to add love and fun to your home, but they also take some adjustment as you become familiar with your pet’s health needs and personality. There’s a lot to learn about keeping your new pet healthy – from exercise and nutrition to pet wellness and preventive care. At Androscoggin Animal Hospital, it’s our job to help you learn the best ways to keep your new pet healthy, and we’re excited to get started!

Pet Wellness and Preventive Care 101

One of the best ways to help keep your pet healthy is with preventive care and optimal wellness routines. But what exactly is preventive care?

Preventive care is a set of guidelines widely accepted by veterinarians regarding how to keep pets healthy during every stage of life. Good preventive care requires a plan to keep your pet both healthy and happy. At our practice, we make that plan together with you and base it on your pet’s breed, age, and physical condition.

Begin With a Physical Exam

Seeing your pet (at least) every year for a nose-to-tail physical exam is the best way to determine their overall health. We definitely recommend making this your top priority. What do we mean by “nose-to-tail?” During our exam, we assess all the body systems, including:

  • Ears, eyes, and nose
  • Body condition/weight
  • Teeth and mouth
  • Abdomen and digestive system
  • Skin and coat
  • Lungs and heart
  • Lymph nodes
  • Bones and joints

We also review nutrition, behavior, exercise, and all the tools and tricks we know to help prevent disease. Of course, we also answer any questions you have and as a bonus – we have so much fun getting to know you and your pet!

Other Components of Pet Wellness

In addition to a complete physical exam, good pet wellness also includes:

Pet Wellness Plans Explained

To help ensure we’re all on the right track from the beginning, we’ve put together pet wellness plan packages. These packages help us know exactly what we should be addressing to keep your pet healthy at every stage of life – and they can save you money, as well.

Please give us a call for more information or to schedule your pet’s preventive care appointment. We look forward to working with you to keep your pet healthy for life!

The post Keeping Them Well: Pet Wellness Care for Your New Pet appeared first on Androscoggin Animal Hospital Blog.

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