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Pet Care News From Your Veterinarian 速


SU MMER | Volum e 6, No. 3

5 Nutrition Questions to Ask Your Veterinarian Keep Your Senior Pet in Top Health Periodontal Disease: What You Need to Know Fight Back Against Fleas! Important Message About Your Pet

WHEREVER YOUR BEST FRIEND GOES Fleas don’t just infest your pet. By spreading their eggs and larvae around, they end up in your bed, your carpet, everywhere. To stop an infestation, ask for the brand vets recommend most: FRONTLINE® Plus. It kills fleas fast, plus their eggs and larvae—and even ticks. It’s waterproof. And just one dose lasts all month long. Make sure the only one getting comfy in your home is your pet. Ask for the Vet’s #1 Choice,* FRONTLINE Plus. *Vet-dispensed; MDI Data. ®FRONTLINE is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2009 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. FLE09CNPRINT_R

Kills fleas and ticks fast...and lasts.

SUMMER | VOL. 6, No. 3

Picture-Perfect Pets Pet Care News From Your Veterinarian


ive Questions 2 FAbout Nutrition What should you feed your puppy, kitten or senior pet? Key questions to ask your veterinarian.

Checkups Work 4 WFindellness out how to keep your senior pet healthier longer.

Prince Emme

Pampered Pet Health Center

Sebring Animal Hospital


Chickasaw Trail Animal Hospital


South Orlando Animal Hospital

revention First 8 PDiscover how to identify the signs of periodontal disease in your pet.


Flea-Free Zone Fight back against fleas! Your veterinarian is your best partner.


All Aboard Animal Hospital

Miss Grace

Monroe Veterinary Clinic

Pet Quarterly® is an educational resource provided by your veterinary hospital.


All Aboard Animal Hospital

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Livingston Animal and Avian Hospital


McCurdy Animal Hospital

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Pet Quarterly | Summer 2009 1

5 General Wellness


Ask your veterinarian about the right food for your pet. Proper nutrition is vital to your puppy or kitten’s growth, and it can help all pets live longer and healthier lives. By Leslie Monroe, DVM, Royal Canin Scientific Communications


Veterinarians now offer nutritional solutions that contribute to pets’ well-being and longevity, speed recovery from surgery and illness and promote higher quality of life. By understanding variables such as age, breed or breed mix, size and activity, your veterinarian can recommend nutrition that is specific to your pet’s individual needs. Talk to your veterinarian before making food choices for your pet. Here are some questions to get the conversation started.

1. What should I feed my puppy?

This is often the first question a new puppy owner asks. The answer depends on the age of the puppy, as well as its breed, anticipated adult size and even where you live. Two frequent nutritional mistakes are allowing puppies to More than 20% become overweight, and below ideal body weight

WHAT IS YOUR PET’S BCS SCORE? Does your pet have the ideal weight for its skeletal structure? Check these charts for a Body Condition Score (BCS). If you feel your pet is out of shape, talk to your veterinarian about a safe weight-loss strategy.

transitioning them to an adult food too early. Proper puppy nutrition can reduce the risk of developmental orthopedic disease and promote a healthier, longer life. Large and giant breed puppies are especially sensitive to nutrient excesses and deficiencies. So have this conversation frequently with your veterinarian throughout the full growth period of your puppy.

2. What should I feed my kitten?

The most stressful periods of a cat’s life are weaning (the transition from mother’s milk to solid food) and the separation of the kitten from its mother and littermates. During this transition, there is a tremendous

s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones are easily visible (in short-haired pets) s Obvious loss of muscle mass s No palpable fat on chest s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones visible

Between 10% and 20% below ideal body weight

s Obvious waist s Minimal abdominal fat s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones not visible but easily palpable s Obvious waist s Little abdominal fat s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones are hardly palpable

20% above ideal weight

s No obvious waist s Heavy abdominal fat deposits

s Massive fat deposits on chest, spine and abdomen 40% above ideal weight 2 Summer 2009 | Pet Quarterly

s Obviously distended abdomen

strain on the kitten’s immune system. Its gastrointestinal tract is also becoming more mature and fully functional during this time. For these reasons, the weaning kitten is vulnerable to disease and infection. Proper nutrition can support a kitten’s high energy needs during growth, as well as promote and support its young immune system.

3. I want to spay/neuter my cat/

kitten, but will it make my pet fat?

The benefits of population control and disease prevention through spaying and neutering pets are indisputable. But new studies show that within 48 hours of the surgery, a cat’s or kitten’s appetite increases and its metabolism slows. This can lead to rapid weight gain and increased risk of diseases such as osteoarthritis, lower urinary tract disease and diabetes. The health benefits of spaying/ neutering are clear, but nutritional changes must be implemented to avoid obesity. Your veterinarian can recommend the appropriate time to spay/neuter your pet and the best diet recommendation for maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

More than 20% below ideal body weight

Between 10% and 20% below ideal body weight

20% above ideal weight

40% above ideal weight

4. Does it make a difference what I feed my healthy adult dog?

As modern veterinary healthcare evolves, so does the application of preventive medicine. The first step in preventing disease is risk assessment. There are common risk factors associated with size, age, breed or breed mix, lifestyle and environment, so some foods may be better for certain breeds. Common conditions that cause irritation and discomfort in dogs are itchy skin, digestive upset, dental disease, lower urinary tract disease and obesity. Fortunately, research has led to a better understanding of individual nutrients and how nutritional management may alleviate or help to avoid these disorders. Your veterinarian may recommend a preventive diet for your pet.

5. What should I feed a senior pet?

As pets age, changes occur that can often be addressed nutritionally. For example, cats have a tendency to lose weight as they get older, so food must be more calorically concentrated and easier to digest. Dogs, on the other hand, may gain weight in their senior years. Many older pets also experience dental sensitivity, making it difficult to chew kibble. Pets age at different rates, so it is important to begin talking with your veterinarian about nutrition sooner rather than later. After screening for many of the health concerns commonly s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones are easily visible associated with aging, (in short-haired pets) you and your veterinarian s Obvious loss of muscle mass can discuss the best s No palpable fat on chest nutritional choices for your pet’s specific needs. s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones visible Studies show that a lean s Obvious waist body condition helps s Minimal abdominal fat minimize arthritis and other health disorders. s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones not visible but Whether your pet easily palpable is an energetic young s Obvious waist puppy, an active coms Little abdominal fat panion or a maturing senior, nutrition can s Ribs, spine and pelvic bones are hardly palpable help support your pet’s s No obvious waist health, comfort s Heavy abdominal fat deposits over the spine and quality and the base of the tail of life. n s Massive fat deposits on chest, spine and the base of the tail s Obviously distended abdomen Source: Royal Canin

Pet Quarterly | Summer 2009 3

Senior Wellness

Wellness Checkups Work Don’t wait to seek treatment until your senior dog or cat is ill. Twiceyearly checkups are an easy way to keep pets healthier longer.


By Mary Scoviak

If your dog or cat is seven years or older, you have a senior citizen in your household.


Just like people, pets need more care in their senior years to stay healthier longer. Risks of cancer, diabetes, arthritis, heart disease and other serious conditions all increase with age. Early detection and prevention can help your pet live a longer and better life. How “old” is your pet? You might be surprised. Today’s pets are living longer (13 years for the average dog and upwards of 20 years for the average cat, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association), but they also age much faster than people. A dog or cat visiting a veterinarian once a year is the equivalent of a person seeing a doctor or dentist once every seven years, according to National Pet Wellness, an educational initiative of the American Veterinary

4 Summer 2009 | Pet Quarterly

chance for identifying health issues.” Medical Association and Fort Dodge Animal Health. Early detection saved the life of a senior dog in A checkup every six months is one of the simplest veterinarian Sandra Sawchuk’s practice. The golden and most cost-effective ways to keep a senior pet in retriever’s owner pointed out a small lump at the dog’s optimal health. “Pets naturally hide their pain or illness,” six-month exam. “It was says Shana Savikko, DVM, so small it could have been and veterinary advisor to the a skin tag,” says Sawchuk, American Animal Hospital DVM, MS, preventive Association (AAHA). Your WELLNESS CHECKS twice a year are essential medicine service, University veterinarian’s assessment for senior (age seven and up) dogs and cats. of Wisconsin-Madison. But and basic tests are essential a biopsy revealed that it to ensuring that problems EARLY DETECTION can keep your senior pet was a very aggressive form are caught and addressed healthier longer, help prevent chronic illnesses of cancer. Left untreated, as soon as possible. “Early and save on treatment costs down the line. the dog would have had a detection, especially of any YOUR VETERINARIAN can create a wellness life expectancy of four to type of cancer (which kills program that is customized specifically for your six months. “Because the nearly half of pets over dog or cat, taking into account your pet’s health, owner brought that to our 10 years old), gives our pets history, breed and age. attention at such an early a much better prognosis,” stage, we saved the dog’s Savikko adds. “Frequent SUGGESTIONS for proper diet and exercise are life,” she says. exams provide the best key components of wellness checkups. Your Continued on page 6 veterinarian can provide advice tailored to the needs of your senior pet.

Key Points

Pets Age Faster Than People Determine Your Pet’s Age In “Human” Years 0-20 LBS.

21-50 LBS.

51-90 LBS.

90+ LBS.



6 years







7 years







8 years







10 years







12 years







15 years







20 years









Source: Antech Diagnostics

Pet Quarterly | Summer 2009 5

WEIGHING IN ON WELLNESS Diet and nutrition play key roles in the health of senior pets. According to the most recent statistics from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 52 percent of dogs and 55 percent of cats age seven and older are overweight or obese. That’s more than an aesthetic worry. “We’re seeing more and more diabetes, respiratory and arthritic conditions in older pets as a direct result of obesity,” says Ernest Ward, DVM, APOP’s lead researcher. “These are often chronic, incurable and generally preventable diseases.” Ward says that a few extra pounds on a dog or cat equates to a person being 30 to 50 pounds overweight. Your veterinarian will provide a customized weight-management program that outlines how many calories your pet needs to achieve an ideal weight, along with a proper exercise program. A discussion about diet will also cover food allergies, what supplements might be helpful and advice for transitioning your pet from its current diet to the new regimen. Changes like these pay short-term dividends, says Shana Savikko, DVM, and veterinary advisor to the American Animal Hospital Association. “Cats often develop chronic kidney diseases as they age. If detected early, a simple diet change can reduce the strain on their kidneys. Studies have shown that a prescription diet can improve a cat’s life span,” she says.

Continued from page 5

Before the Checkup You know your pet’s routine better than anyone, so

before a checkup, be prepared to discuss any changes in your pet’s behavior, however subtle. Is your dog or cat having difficulty jumping onto the bed? Is the animal hiding, snapping or shying away when touched, or having accidents in the house? Hair loss, weight loss or changes in appetite may signal a problem as simple as a food allergy, or a condition as serious as cancer or chronic kidney disease. Expect a wellness exam to take from half an hour to an hour. It should include a weigh-in; checks of

the pet’s mouth, eyes and ears; evaluation of the skin, coat and claw or nail-bed character; assessment of the lymph nodes and thyroid; hydration status; analysis of vital signs; a cardio-pulmonary evaluation; orthopedic examination; a rectal palpation (for dogs); along with blood tests for internal diseases, fecal analysis to test for parasites and an urinalysis. Costs vary, but the bill for prevention is almost always far less than treating a serious illness, says Savikko. “Corrective treatment for chronic kidney disease [another leading cause of death in senior pets] can cost several hundred dollars. That can

3?7?9?12 HOW “OLD” IS YOUR PET?


The exact age of your pet in “people years” depends on breed, weight and other factors. Your veterinarian can give you an assessment. Check out the chart on page 5 for averages or visit National Pet Wellness Month at for a pet-age calculator.

Pets age much faster than people. Taking a dog or cat to the veterinarian once a year is the equivalent of a person seeing a doctor or dentist once every seven years.

Source: National Pet Wellness

6 Summer 2009 | Pet Quarterly

Senior Wellness

All Cats

Calling Don’t forget regular wellness checks for your senior cats. Early detection is just as important for cats as for dogs. Cats are known to hide their illnesses more than dogs, and they tend to receive less-frequent veterinary care. “Basic testing is so important,” says Jane Brunt, DVM,

and executive director of CATalyst Council, a Kansas City, Mo.based nonprofit group dedicated to feline health and welfare. “A prime example is the fecal analysis. The new centrifugation method is far more accurate, and a significant number of indoors-only cats are testing positive.”


3 3 3

at Visit National Pet Wellness

advance into the thousand-dollar range if there is hospitalization with monitoring of blood values involved,” she says.

One Prescription Doesn’t Fit All Health programs designed for senior pets should be customized to their lifestyles and that of their owners. “For example, we recommend core vaccines for all dogs and cats. Beyond that, we need to know if the pet lives indoors and outdoors, whether the dog is a hunting dog, whether the animal swims in lakes or runs along city streets,” says Sawchuk. “Each patient is an individual. We want owners to be involved in making health-care decisions.” If problems with mobility or agility are decreasing your pet’s activity, ask your veterinarian to recommend

download a Click on “Pet Wellness” to dogs and cats. Wellness Exam Checklist for l screenings This includes a list of typica mmend. your veterinarian may reco

a therapist. “Rehab” isn’t just for movie-star pets. Animal hospitals and teaching practices such as Sawchuk’s have tools that range from underwater treadmills to exercise balls and balance boards. “These services are becoming more readily available,” says Sawchuk. “They can make a dog’s or cat’s quality of life much better—and that’s what wellness is all about.” n Mary Scoviak is a Cincinnati, Ohio-based editor and writer. Her dog Pansy is 77 years old in “human” years.

See the cover for an important message from your veterinarian.

Pet Quarterly | Summer 2009 7

Dental Health

PREVENTION FIRST Periodontal disease in pets is more serious than you may think. Here’s how to identify the signs and take action to keep your pet happy and healthy. By R. Michael Peak, DVM, Diplomate, American Veterinary Dental College


Does your pet have bad breath, red gums or a missing tooth? If so, this could be a sign of periodontal disease. Dental disease is gaining recognition as a major detriment to overall human and pet health, and periodontal disease tops the list of dental problems. Basically the loss of tooth-supporting structures and tissues holding the teeth in the bone of the jaws, periodontal disease is caused by bacterial buildup (plaque) on the tooth surface, the release of destructive products by these bacteria and the body’s reaction to these bacteria and their by-products. We are discovering that this buildup of plaque in some patients results in chronic infection and ongoing inflammation that may contribute to disease in other parts of the body. The consequence of this long-term reaction of bacteria and the body’s response to it could reduce health and quality of life.

Genetics may also predispose certain breeds to periodontal disease. A large, multihospital study of dogs with periodontal disease found a higher incidence in small breeds such as Toy Poodles, Yorkshire Terriers, Maltese, Pomeranians, Shetland Sheepdogs, Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Papillons and Dachshunds. Some larger-breed dogs, such as Standard Poodles and Collies, are also included on this list. Greyhounds are not mentioned in the study, but periodontal disease is also common in the breed. Periodontal disease can occur in any breed.

Size and Breed Risks

Know the Signs

When it comes to periodontal disease in dogs, not all dogs are created equal. We see a higher likelihood of periodontal disease in smaller patients and an increase as they get older. We don’t know the exact reason why, because there could be so many factors involved, but we suspect the reason is due to small mouth size. Normally dogs have 42 permanent adult teeth. That many teeth in a Chihuahua’s mouth, for example, can lead to crowding and misaligned teeth, resulting in areas where plaque can build up and be difficult to remove with brushing.

How do you know if your pet has periodontal disease? As the pet’s caretaker, you may recognize signs before anyone else. One of the most common signs is bad breath. Once thought to be common and relatively normal in dogs, bad breath actually may be a symptom of something more serious, whether related to dental issues or not. Reddened gum tissue, buildup of tartar and plaque, missing or loose teeth or bleeding gums may all be indications of periodontal disease. If you see these signs in your pet, please make it a priority to see your veterinarian for an initial oral

8 Summer 2009 | Pet Quarterly

Did You Know?

Dental disease can start early in pets. An estimated 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. Source: American Veterinary Dental Society

Better Brushing

Plaque is a leading cause of periodontal disease. The best defense: Regular brushing with products formulated for dogs and cats. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth.

examination along with a physical examination. These symptoms are not always associated with dental disease, but they may be small clues to a more serious problem your veterinarian may be able to treat to give your pet the best quality of life. Following an initial oral examination, your veterinarian may recommend something as small as routine brushing or as extensive as a thorough oral examination with dental x-rays and a treatment plan to treat serious infections. In the latter case, an oral examination under anesthesia coupled with dental x-rays is the best way to detect the obscure infections associated with periodontal disease and to be in position to treat them. Once any problems are resolved, you’ll need to work with your veterinarian on a plan to help prevent this from occurring again. This will really be a team effort between you and your veterinarian to provide optimal health for your pet. Through careful counseling and periodic re-evaluations from your veterinarian, regular home care and positive reinforcement training with your pet, you can provide optimal oral health for your friend. If you have questions about the oral health of your pet, call your veterinarian to schedule a consultation.

Key Points • Periodontal disease is caused by bacterial buildup (plaque) on the tooth surface, the release of destructive products by these bacteria and the body’s reaction to these bacteria and their by-products. • Know the signs of periodontal disease in pets—bad breath, reddened gum tissue, buildup of tartar and plaque and missing or loose teeth—and schedule a dental exam for your pet. n

See the cover for an important message from your veterinarian. Pet Quarterly | Summer 2009 9

Parasite Control


By Heather L. Troyer, DVM, DABVP

The best way to fight fleas is to make sure they never get a chance to infect your pets. Your veterinarian is your best partner and first line of defense.


Fleas are more than a nasty nuisance. They can cause great discomfort to pets, invade your home and transmit disease. Parasites such as fleas jump at the opportunity to get their first meal, so it’s important to be vigilant about flea protection. Ask your veterinarian about the best flea-prevention program for your pet. Flea bites are often itchy, and both dogs and cats are highly susceptible to allergies to flea saliva, which can cause a rash over most of the body. Heavy infestations of fleas can lead to iron deficiency and anemia, or even death in puppies and kittens. Fleas can transmit diseases to cats, dogs and humans. Fleas are a problem just about anywhere you may live around the country. The common cat flea (Ctenocephalides felis) and dog flea (Ctenocephalides canis) are ubiquitous throughout the Unites States, except in regions where the relative humidity remains below 50 percent (such as desert Southwest and Rocky Mountain states). They are considered “ectoparasites,” meaning that they live on the outside of animals and use pets not only as a food source but as an environment to complete a portion of their life cycle. • Depending on where you live, your veterinarian Your veterinarian can suggest may recommend year-round protection from fleas the best flea-prevention program for your pet, (as well as ticks and other parasites.)


depending on breed and lifestyle. • Jumping at the Chance to Bite Both dogs and cats are highly susceptible to allergies Dogs and cats typically become infested with fleas outdoors, where a flea can jump to flea saliva, which can cause a very itchy rash on them and remain in their fur. Fleas can over most of the body. also travel into a household on your clothes • or on the tail of another pet and infest all the Fleas can transmit disease to both pets and humans. animals in the house. • Once Ctenocephalides fleas move in, they tend Be diligent about keeping your pet’s to stick around and remain on their host until their environment clean and population reaches about 200. Typically, fleas are about freshly vacuumed. the size of a pinhead, are chocolate-brown in color and

have sturdy hind legs for jumping. They also have mouth parts adapted for biting and sucking their meals of blood.

10 Summer 2009 | Pet Quarterly

The Flea Life Cycle ADULTS


THE FLEA LIFE CYCLE: One adult flea can lay up to 50 eggs a day starting 24 to 48 hours after infesting pet.


LARVAE EGG STAGE: The life cycle of the flea begins with the egg. Eggs are pearly white in color, oval in shape and approximately 0.5 millimeter in length. They are deposited on the dog or cat by an adult female, where they fall off onto your pet’s favorite resting places: your couch, their bedding, the floor, carpeting or even your bed.

flea feces, which is essentially digested blood. Larvae are less than 1 millimeter in length, dark-colored, maggot-like in appearance and tend to develop faster when it is warm outside.

PUPA STAGE: The final adolescent life stage is when the third larval instar morphs into a cocoon or “pupa.”

LARVAL STAGE: Four days after the flea egg has

ADULT STAGE: The pupa hatches after about eight

been deposited, a tiny baby flea, called a larva, hatches and begins the first of three larval stages. Larvae feed on

days, and the adult flea emerges. New adult fleas generally appear after a total of two to five weeks. Continued on page 12

Fight Back Against Fleas The goal of a comprehensive fleaprevention program is not only to eliminate the parasite on the pet, but also to eliminate existing environmental infestations and prevent subsequent re-infestation. Your veterinarian can help you choose the appropriate product for each of your pets, and walk you through a flea eradication or prevention program. The most common method for eliminating adult fleas on a pet is by applying a “top spot” product, such as fipronil (Frontline®, Merial). Other parasite-prevention products focus on halting

the development of eggs and larva within the adult flea. Combinations of the two types of products (Frontline® Plus, Merial) will not only kill adults, but also will control the population of immature fleas in the environment. It is extremely important to vacuum and clean your pet’s environment thoroughly, so that any eggs, larvae or pupae are removed. Dusts or “bombs” that contain insecticides can also be used, but can be hazardous to both pets and people. Make sure to consult your veterinarian before using any insecticide.

Pet Quarterly | Summer 2009 11

Parasite Control

FAD News

Fleas can cause flea allergy dermatitis (FAD) in dogs and cats, which accounts for more than 50 percent of all dermatological cases reported to veterinarians. Source: The Companion Animal Parasite Council

Year-Round Protection

Your veterinarian may recommend year-round flea protection for your pet. Don’t forget to discuss tick protection, too. Like fleas, ticks are ectoparasites. Ticks can transmit a number of diseases, including Lyme disease. Continued from page 11

Fleas and Humans Although dog and cat fleas do not live and breed on humans, it is possible for fleas to bite you. Fleas can cause any number of diseases, ranging from “Cat Scratch Disease,” which can occur when a human is bitten or scratched by a cat infected with the organism, to rare cases of bubonic plague. This is why it’s important to use flea protection for your pets and to schedule regular blood screenings for cats. Tapeworms are another concern. Your pet becomes infected when it swallows a flea containing a tapeworm larva. The larval tapeworm develops into an adult in the intestines of the dog or cat, and can grow up to 28 inches in length. Although extremely rare, a recent veterinary case report documented an intestinal obstruction in a cat by a tapeworm, where the worm had to be surgically removed. Tapeworm eggs, or proglottids, can be found in fresh feces or moving around the anus or under the tail. They look like moving grains of rice. Tapeworms also present serious risks to humans. They can be acquired via ingestion, especially by children. This parasite is yet another important reason to maintain a rigorous flea-prevention program for your pet. n Dr. Troyer is a full-time veterinarian in canine and feline general medicine and surgery, with special interests in parasitology and infectious disease.

12 Summer 2009 | Pet Quarterly

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PRSRT STD U.S. POSTAGE PAID Lebanon Junction, KY Permit No. 663

Below is a convenient place to jot down questions for your veterinarian.

Q:______________________________________________________ Q:_________________________________________________________ Q:________________________________________________________ Q:_______________________________________________________ OraVet was so effective for him, Frankie started recommending it to all his friends – EVEN THE CATS. ®

Reduce dental plaque and calculus in your pet – with the OraVet oral healthcare sytem. ®

Plaque is a clear, colorless film that builds up on the surface of your pet’s teeth and can lead to the formation of the hard, rough mineral deposits known as calculus.

OraVet has been clinically proven to significantly reduce plaque and calculus formation in dogs and cats.*

*Data on file at Merial. ®ORAVET is a registered trademark of Merial. ©2009 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved. OVT09CNHALFPAGEAD.

Ask your veterinarian about OraVet today.

Pet Quarterly - SUMMER | Volume 6, No. 3  

Pet Care News From Your Veterinarian