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February is National Pet Dental Health Month

Since February is National Pet Dental Health Month, we’d like to give 15% off all dental cleanings. When was the last time you checked Fido or Fluffy’s pearly (or not-so-pearly) whites or took them to the vet for a dental exam? The majority of people consider brushing their teeth part of a healthy daily routine, but most don’t give nearly the same attention to routine dental care for their dogs and cats. Many pet owners may not realize just how crucial oral care is for their four-legged friends. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), an organization dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.

Pet Dental Health Month 2015 - Nashville TN

Dental Disease Can Be Deadly

Preventive dental care can help prevent severe health problems. Many pet owners seem to de-prioritize their fuzzy friends’ dental care. Dental care is key in maintaining a pet’s overall health. Bacteria in your pet’s mouth can get into his/her bloodstream and permeate different organs, causing infections that can potentially cause death. The AVMA reports the organs most often affected by oral diseases are the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, and even the nervous system.

Dental Care is Simple

Pet owners can brush up on their four-legged friends’ oral care by following three simple guidelines outlined by the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS):

  1. Take your pet to get a dental exam. Your pet should have a routine vet exam, including a careful examination of his/her teeth and gums, at least once a year.
  2. Start an at-home regimen. Ask your vet to suggest nutritional supplements and a regular teeth brushing schedule or a specially formulated food proven to help remove plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth.
  3. Schedule dental cleanings. Take your pet for regular dental checkups.

With regular dental care from your vet followed by maintenance at home, you can prevent dental disease in your pets before it becomes a serious problem.

Know What’s Going on With Your Pets

Have you looked at the inside of your pet’s mouth lately? Does your pet’s mouth smell bad? Have you noticed any problems with your pet eating hard food or treats? Is your pet 3 years old or older? If you answered yes to any of these questions, there’s a strong change that your pet needs a teeth cleaning. Over 75% of pets in the U.S. over 3 years of age (or younger with toy breeds) have some degree of dental disease. If your pet is current on his/her yearly exams but you want to find it he/she has any dental disease, you can schedule a dental evaluation with your vet. If your pet isn’t current on his/her yearly exams, please call your vet as soon as possible to schedule an appointment.

Here at 5 Points Animal Hospital, we can help you improve your pet’s oral health. Remember, in honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, all dental cleanings are 15% off for the month of February. Caring for your pet’s teeth and gums can be difficult, but it doesn’t have to be! We provide dental service for all of our patients, including:

  • A free dental exam every 6 months
  • Routine dental cleanings
  • Periodontal therapies
  • Extractions

For more information about our dental care services, give us a call at (615) 750-2377 or click here to fill out our online contact form.

How Dangerous Is Heartworm to Cats and Dogs?

Heartworm disease—caused by foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs and associated blood vessels of affected pets—is a serious and potentially fatal disease in pets in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. It can cause severe lung disease, heart failure and damage to other organs in your pet’s body. This disease has been known to affect dogs, cats and ferrets, but heartworms also live in other mammal species, including wolves, coyotes, foxes, seat lions and—in rare instances—humans. Because wild foxes and coyotes have been known to live in close proximity to many urban areas, they’re considered important carriers of the disease.

Prevent Heartworm In Cats & Dogs - Nashville TN

Heartworms and Your Cat

Basic Information

Cats are what many would call atypical hosts for heartworms, with most worms not even surviving to the adult stage. It’s important to understand that even immature worms can cause real damage in the form of a condition known as heartworm associated respiratory disease (HARD). Cats with heartworms that actually do survive to the adult stage typically have no more than three (3) worms; many cats affected by heartworms have no adult worms at all. Because of this, heartworm disease in cats often goes undiagnosed. Moreover, the medication used to treat heartworm infections in dogs can’t be used in cats; as such, prevention is the only means of protecting cats from the effects of heartworm disease.

Warning Signs

The signs of heartworm disease in cats can range from very subtle to very dramatic. Symptoms may include:

  •  Coughing
  • Asthma-like attacks
  • Periodic vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss

Occasionally an affected feline may have a hard time walking, experience fainting or seizures, or suffer from a buildup of fluid in the abdomen. Unfortunately, the first sing in some cases is a sudden collapse of the cat, or sudden death.

Heartworms and Your Dog

Basic Information

Unlike their feline counterparts, dogs are natural hosts for heartworms, meaning that the heartworms that live inside the dog mature into adults, mate and produce offspring. If left untreated, their numbers can increase dramatically (dogs have been known to harbor several hundred worms in their bodies). Heartworm disease can cause lasting damage to the heart, lungs and arteries, and can affect the dog’s health and quality of life long after these parasites are gone. It is for this very reason that prevention is, by far, the best option, and treatment—when necessary—should be administered as early in the course of the disease as possible.

Warning Signs

In the early stages of the disease, many dogs show few symptoms; some show no symptoms at all. The longer the infection is left untreated, the more likely symptoms will develop. Active dogs, dogs that are heavily infected with heartworms, or those with other health problems often show more advanced and noticeable signs of the disease. Symptoms may include:

  • A mild, persistent cough
  • Reluctance to exercise
  • Fatigue after moderate activity
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss

As the disease progresses, dogs may develop heart failure and the appearance of a swollen stomach due to the buildup of excess fluid. Dogs with larger numbers of heartworms can develop sudden blood flow blockages within the heart, ultimately leading to cardiovascular collapse (known as caval syndrome). Without prompt surgical removal of the heartworm blockage, few dogs survive.

Heartworm disease is a serious, progressive disease. The earlier it’s detected, the better the chances your pet will recover. There are few, if any, early signs of disease when a dog or cat is infected, so detecting their presence with a heartworm test administered by your vet is of the utmost importance. At 5 Points Animal Hospital, our well-equipped, in-house lab allows us to run a variety of diagnostic tests with results available in less than 30 minutes. This allows us to act quicker if heartworms are a problem for your pet.

What Is the Difference Between Core and Non-Core Vaccinations?

Your pet’s vaccinations are a critical part of his/her preventative health care program. Rather than vaccinating every pet, every year, against every disease, we now seek to minimize the number of vaccines given – while at the same time ensuring that each pet is adequately protected against disease. This has led to the concept of assigning pet vaccinations into one of two basic groups: core and non-core. To date, these vaccinations have prevented millions of pets from unnecessary suffering and/or death.

Pet Vaccinations - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

What Are Core Vaccinations?

Core vaccines are recommended for all pets with an unknown vaccination history, as they protect against diseases that infect dogs or cats of all life stages and lifestyles. The diseases involved have high rates of infection, pose a threat to the pet’s life, and/or are a danger to human health; in general, vaccination results in relatively good protection from the disease(s). These core vaccines include:

  • Rabies for cats and dogs—a fatal viral disease that can infect most species of mammals. It is recommended for both pets due to its potential to infect humans and because it is a fatal disease for which there is no cure
  • Dogs: Canine distemper—a highly contagious, potentially fatal viral disease that can affect the respiratory and nervous systems; Leptospirosis—a bacterial disease that is contracted through contact with contaminated urine and can cause liver and kidney failure. Can also be transmitted to people; Canine parvovirus—a highly contagious, potentially fatal gastrointestinal disease; and Adenovirus (hepatitis)—a viral disease that can affect multiple organ systems including the liver and kidneys and can be fatal
  • Cats: Herpesvirus (rhinotracheitis) and calicivirus—AKA respiratory virus vaccine. Highly contagious respiratory diseases spread through secretions and are also air-borne; and Panleukopenia (feline distemper)—a highly contagious viral disease that causes gastrointestinal illness and can be fatal

From puppies and kittens to our geriatric pets, preventive medicine keeps them healthy and prolongs their lives.

What Are Non-Core Vaccinations?

Non-core vaccines are optional vaccines that should be considered in light of the exposure risk of the animal (i.e., based on geographic distribution and the pet’s lifestyle). Several of the diseases involved are often self-limiting or respond readily to treatment. Non-core vaccines include:

  • Bordetella bronchiseptica for cats and dogs—AKA tracheobronchitis. A highly contagious respiratory disease that causes inflammation of the trachea and bronchi
  • Dogs: Canine parainfluenza virus—a highly contagious respiratory virus and is one of the most common pathogens of infectious tracheobronchitis; Canine influenza virus (CIV)—a highly contagious virus known to cause kennel cough; and Leptospira spp—a bacterial disease that affects humans and animals. Without treatment, can lead to kidney damage, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death
  • Cats: Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)—the most common cause of cancer in cats. May cause various blood disorders and may lead to a state of immune deficiency that hinders the cat’s ability to protect itself against other infections; Feline immunodeficiency virus—a complex retrovirus that causes immunodeficiency disease; Virulent feline calicivirus (FCV)—a highly variable virus with many different manifestations, including highly virulent, fairly benign, and all points in between; and Chlamydia felis—primarily causes ocular infections and conjunctivitis

Vaccination with these vaccines is generally less effective in protecting against disease than vaccination with the core vaccines.

Modern vaccines are very safe, but they’re not 100% risk-free. Allergic reactions, autoimmune diseases, and other adverse reactions—though rare—can be caused by vaccines. Wise pet owners look for a veterinarian who will tailor their vaccine protocols to each individual patient’s needs to minimize the risk of vaccination. Wise consumers like individual vaccine protocols because avoiding unnecessary vaccination helps reduce the overall cost of preventive care. Please contact us at 5 Points Animal Hospital for all your pet health care needs.

Health Tips for Your Elderly Pets

When is your cat, dog, or other companion animal considered a senior? There’s no single answer that applies to every pet, yet most consider the 7-9 year age range as the threshold. When following the idea that pets age seven years for every one year their owner’s age, a 7-9 year old pet is equivalent to a human who’s 49-63. Some pets show physical signs of aging earlier in life due to genetics, nutrition, environment, and disease, while others sail gracefully from adulthood into their elderly years with little to no noticeable decline. What is the secret to maintaining the health of your elderly pets? Healthy pets, regardless of age, rely on their owners’ efforts, the knowledge of their veterinarian, and (believe it or not) a little bit of good fortune.

Elderly Dogs - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Schedule Regular Vet Visits

Senior pets are prone to numerous medical maladies: periodontal disease, arthritis, cancer and ailments affecting the kidneys, liver, and endocrine system. Manifestations of these diseases can be subtle or only arise when severe and potentially irreversible changes have occurred. In managing such conditions, your elderly pet should have a physical exam performed by a veterinarian annually at the very least. Pets that have been diagnosed with one or more of these afflictions should be examined every 3-6 months, or more frequently if necessary. These exams may reveal problems would otherwise go unnoticed until it’s too late.

Address Health Concerns Immediately

If your pet shows signs of illness or if your vet discovers anything abnormal, you must vow to address the issue immediately, as delays can cost your pet dearly. Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases seen in pets of all ages but is especially common in elderly pets. Waiting to address periodontal disease only after damage is evident can severely compromise your pet’s health. Be proactive and take steps to prevent periodontal disease from occurring in the first place. Brush teeth on a daily basis and provide appropriate objects on which your pet can chew to reduce the plaque and tartar buildup.

Routine Diagnostic Testing Is Key

Although your pet’s medical history and a general physical exam can yield a tremendous amount of useful information, diagnostic testing offers a more accurate representation of your pet’s overall health. Blood, urine, and fecal testing, X-rays, ultrasound, and other methods help to best direct treatment more precisely. It is recommended that senior pets have baseline blood, urine, and fecal testing annually at the very least. The true value of diagnostic exams lies in early disease detection and treatment, as this provides your pet with the greatest possible benefits.

Ensure That Your Home Environment Is Pet Friendly

It may be easiest if you think of this as being similar to baby-proofing your house. As your youthful, energetic pets inevitably age, their ability to navigate through the home environment they once effortlessly romped through diminishes. Slippery tile and hardwood floors, steep stairs, raised sleeping quarters are especially hazardous to elderly pets. Enhance your home and yard environment to appropriately suit your aging pet and reduce the likelihood of preventable illness or injury.

It may seem like just yesterday when you brought your pet home for the very first time. You can remember them frolicking around the yard, full of energy and curious to explore the new surroundings. But as the years pass, you begin noticing an overall slowdown. You are your pet’s primary health advocate from beginning to end. The best way to ensure their health and happiness is to take an educated and proactive stance in promoting the best possible quality of life regardless of their age. We at 5 Points Animal Hospital understand that not all pets or pet owners are the same. We will work with you to develop a customized health and wellness plan to fit your budget and the lifestyle of your pet. Please contact us at (615) 750-2377 for all your pet health care needs.

The Importance of Dental Care for Your Pets

Pets have teeth too, and, as such, regular dental care is a crucial component of their overall health. Now answer this question honestly: When was the last time you gave any thought to your pet’s dental health? If your answer was something along the lines of “it’s been a while” or “never” you can take solace in knowing that you’re probably not alone. In fact, studies reveal that a whopping two-thirds of pet owners don’t provide regular dental care for their pets. This is a huge mistake!

Pet Dental Health - Nashville TN - 5 Points Animal Hospital

Have you ever experienced a painful tooth or an uncomfortable sore in your mouth? Most people that have issues with their oral hygiene seek dental care to rectify the situation. The same should be true for your four-legged companions. Even though pets don’t typically get cavities, they’re highly susceptible to periodontal disease, the #1 illness found in both dogs and cats. As such, it’s of the utmost importance that pet lovers include dental hygiene in their animals’ health and wellness routine.

The fact is, if you don’t look in your pet’s mouth, you’re likely missing important problems. Estimates suggest that, by the time they’re 3 years old, approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have oral disease. Some of the most common symptoms in both include yellow and brown buildup of tartar along the gum line, inflamed gums, and persistent bad breath. A change in eating habits or pawing at the mouth can also be an indicator. Since dental problems often develop gradually over time, it’s easy to either miss the warning signs or attribute them to something else. This is why it’s absolutely critical to schedule a regular annual dental checkup with your pet’s veterinarian.

The mouth is the gateway to health for your pets. Those with poor oral health often have other health problems as well. If oral disease is left untreated, it can lead to a host of problems. Bacteria from the infected oral environment can seep into the blood stream causing complications with the heart, liver, kidneys and other serious health concerns. Studies have shown that the seriousness of these issues can reduce the life expectancy of your pet by 1 to 3 years. Though periodontal disease is the #1 disease among pets, the good news is that it’s also among the most treatable. Extending the life of your pet and improving their overall quality of life is not only possible, it can be made easy as well.

It’s important to visit your pet’s veterinarian for a dental exam to determine if your pet has periodontal disease. Depending on your pets’ breed and size, visits could be as frequent as every 3 to 6 months or annually. A home dental routine is extremely important, too. Imagine what would happen if you only brushed your teeth twice a year (when you visited your dentist). Plaque, the leading cause of periodontal disease, can begin to develop on pets’ teeth as quickly as 12 hours after a dental cleaning. Brushing your pets’ teeth can still be an effective method in a daily oral health routine.

Remember, good oral hygiene at home increases the time between necessary professional cleanings. If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call us at 5 Points Animal Hospital. We’ll help you keep your pets healthy and happy and show them the love and care that they deserve!

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5 Points Animal Hospital | 1103 Woodland St., Nashville, TN 37206 | Click to Call Us Now