Saturday, February 18, 2017

Top Veterinary Articles of the Week: Dental Cleanings, End-of-Life Care, and more ...

Dental Cleanings & Your Pet – What You Need to Know!

Dr. Christopher Byers/CriticalCareDVM

Did you know that February is a National Pet Dental Health Month?

Severe plaque & calculus accumulation on the teeth of a dog.
Photo CriticalCareDVM

The importance of dental health cannot be dismissed. About 80% of dogs develop periodontal disease by the age of three. Yet, an unhealthy mouth can not only be a cause of substantial pain but also contribute to a number of systemic diseases.

There are several things I adhere to when considering the dental health of my dogs. Daily brushing, regular exams, and cleaning when needed. It is recommended to actually do full dental cleaning annually, but if the mouth checks out, I am not convinced that I need to be fixing something that isn't broke and none of our veterinarians insisted on such approach.

If there is a problem, though, there are a couple of further points I stick with. I would not opt for anesthesia-free dental cleaning for my dogs, and I would not have their teeth cleaned without dental x-rays at the same time. With anesthesia-free dental cleaning, I see issues both with safety and effectiveness. More importantly, the bulk of oral problems takes place under the gum line where they cannot be seen without taking x-rays.

Take care of your dog's mouth but take care of it properly.

Learn about dental cleaning in Dr. Byers' article.

2017 Jarrettsville Veterinary Center Price Guide

Dr. Krista Magnifico/Diary of a Real-Life Veterinarian

So many times people avoid taking their dog to a vet because they figure they cannot afford it. While some procedures or treatments can be costly, a life-saving visit might cost a lot less than you imagine.

Do you know what your veterinarian charges for various services? I doubt they have a public price guide; Dr. Krista is the only veterinarian I know of who publishes this type of comprehensive information. For myself, I already have a good idea what things cost. But for most people, knowing how much things could or would cost is a scary mystery.

There is a lot to be said for transparency. And there is a lot to be said for pricing for affordability. Yes, the veterinarians and hospitals need to survive too. Dr. Krista looks to finding the best compromise.

Check out her hospital's price guide.

Guidelines for End-of-Life Care

Dr. Nancy Kay/Spot Speaks

It is one of the biggest dilemmas for dog parents; what to do when their dog is terminally ill, not doing well ... and how to tell it's time to end their suffering. People seek advice, but it is so hard to give one. The commonly accepted "you'll know when it's time," isn't straightforward either.

And what if you don't want to or can't make the "final" decision but your dog requires specialized, around-the-clock care?

All end-of-life decisions are incredibly hard and painful. I know, I've been there. What everybody is seeking is some objective guideline to what to do.

The International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care and the American Animal Hospital Association have recently published Guidelines for End-of-Life Care.

If you're struggling with the end-of-life decisions for your dog, hopefully, you can find these guidelines helpful.

Cruciate ligament rupture in the dog: Surgery or no surgery?

Dr. Megan Kelly/HolisticVet

I have more direct experience with cruciate injuries than I ever wished. The biggest part of the decision is the choice between surgical or non-surgical solution.

I am a big proponent of non-invasive solutions, and it is always at the top of my list of choices I consider. However, it is important to remember that "doing nothing" isn't always without consequences. An unstable knee will quickly become arthritic. Compensation for dysfunctional limb will increase the risk of failure of the ligament in the other knee, as well as in other parts of the dog's body.

However, conservative, non-surgical approach does not mean doing nothing. Just as there are several surgical options, there are several non-surgical options as well. This includes physical therapy, regenerative therapy, brace support and any combination of the thereof and other modalities.

When making a decision about the optimal treatment for your dog's ruptured ligament, I recommend researching all the options available as well as considering your dog's size, overall health, fitness, activity level, etc.

Read Dr. Kelly's thoughts about treatment for cruciate ruptures.

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