Dear Dr. Suzi:
What are some tips that you give your clients to
help keep their pets safe?
Signed: Better Safe Than Sorry
Dear Better Safe:
Here are some pointers that I think are important to pet
health and safety:
Poison Proof Your Home. Check your home for possible
poisons and toxins that your pet can get into. Common
toxins include antifreeze, rat or mouse bait, slug bait,
and insecticides, Make sure you keep all drugs and
medications out of reach
2. Plant-Proof Your Home. Plants are an
attractive part of home decorating however can be toxic
to pets. Be careful what you bring in and monitor if
your pet is getting into it. Ingestion of almost every
plant can cause signs of vomiting and/or diarrhea in
most pets. Plants that are especially toxic are Easter
lilies, which can cause fatal kidney failure.
3. Check Collars, Tags, and Microchip. Check your
pets neck at least weekly to make sure the collar is not
too loose nor too tight and…it is still there. Pets can
loose their collar and in many case their
“identification” along with it. This is especially
important in pets that are growing or losing weight.
When you check the collar – make sure there is a tag
that is easy to read. Tags can fall off. Consider having
a microchip placed for permanent identification. –it’s
a safe painless procedure. California law now requires
animal shelters to scan every dog and cat for an
identification microchip. If you have a cat, be sure to
buy a "break-away" collar that can easily break if it
gets stuck on something. This will prevent your cat from
being strangled by its collar.
4. Keep Dogs Supervised. The safest approach is
leash walks only for dogs! This way you can not only
monitor what they are getting into but also watch their
urine and bowel movements for abnormalities. The next
safest things for dogs is a fenced in yard. Monitor the
yard and fence frequently for problems such as loose
boards, open trash, and other dangers. Keep pets inside
in extreme cold or hot temperatures.
5. Keep Cats Indoors. Indoor cats lives a longer,
healthier lives than do outdoor cats or cats that go
outdoors. Outdoor dangers include dogs, cars, exposure
to fleas, ticks, worms, and other cats (that can cause fights or
carry infectious diseases such as feline leukemia or
6. Don't Let your Dog Ride in an Open Truck Bed.
Dogs that are allowed to ride in open bed pick up trucks
are the frequent victims of trauma. Sudden starts,
stops, and turns can toss your pet onto the highway
where it can get hit by oncoming traffic. It is
estimated that at least 100,000 dogs die this way each
year. Leashing your pet in the back does not protect it
as many dogs have been strangled when tossed over the
side. If you pet needs to ride in back, let him ride in
a crate safely secured to the cab.
7. Keep Head and Paws Inside. Dogs love to stick
their heads out open windows however the wind, insects
and debris in the air can hit your pet. Many pets are
taken to emergency hospitals after something hits their
pets' eyes or face. Pets have also been injured during
accidents when a sudden start or stop has thrown them
causing fatal injuries.
8. Don't Let Cat’s Play with String or Ribbons.
Cats love to play with strings and ribbons, however
ingestion of those items commonly cause life-threatening
problems. These items can be ingested causing a “foreign
9. Pet Proof Your Home. Prevent common accidents
in your home by pet proofing! Protect your pet from
electrical cords. Remove access to children’s toys,
strings or small objects that can be chewed on or
swallowed. Fence off water. Don’t allow pets near automated garage
doors. Kittens and small dogs can be crushed under
reclining chairs and rockers
10. Know who to call. In case of an emergency
keep your veterinarian’s number handy as well as the
number to after hours emergency hospitals.
Is there anything I can do for my dog's bad breath?
Signed: Holding My Nose
The bacteria that lurk in a pet’s mouth may be
the cause of bad breath and more. Bacteria accumulation can
lead to oral disease and increase the risk for disease in
other organs, such as the heart, liver and kidneys, according
The American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS)
reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show
signs of oral disease by age three. In fact, oral disease is
the most common health problem treated in small animal clinics
Prevention of dental disease begins with daily brushing. If
the plaque that forms daily is removed by brushing,
periodontal disease can be prevented. Finger brushes and
special tooth brushes are available as well as special pet
toothpaste. Human toothpaste should not be used as it is not
designed to be swallowed and will make your pet sick.
For pets that will not allow brushing, there are oral hygiene
solutions that can be put in their drinking water to help
fight the bacterial infection and dental treats with enzymes
to decrease plaque formation with chewing. Also, Hill’s
Prescription Diet t/d is a specially designed food that
mechanically aids in removal of plaque and tartar. This food
has been valuable in our practice as an aid in prevention of
periodontal disease. However, the oral solutions, chews, and
food are only an aid in prevention of disease and should not
be used in place of brushing.
Regardless of home care, most pets require a professional
dental prophylaxis every 6 to 12 months, depending on your
pets susceptibility and the amount of home care you are able
to provide. General anesthesia is required for this procedure.
The teeth are cleaned and scaled with an ultrasonic scaler and
polished. We examine all of the teeth and, if necessary, take
x-rays of your pet’s mouth to determine the extent of dental
disease below the gum line. Most pets are sent home on
antibiotics after the cleaning to control the infection
present at the time of cleaning. Regular dental cleanings and
home dental care is necessary to prevent dental disease.