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May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness month

posted on May 02, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

One of the most common issues we see in our pets is allergy issues, and the month of May is dedicated to allergy and asthma awareness.  In our pets, 90% of allergies are environmental, versus only about 10% which are due to food.

If your pet is experiencing symptoms such as eye discharge, sneezing, chewing on feet, anal gland issues (scooting or licking anal area), thickened skin, recurrent ear infections, skin infections, or overall itching, it may be allergies.  An examination by your veterinarian should be performed to determine if it is indeed allergies and then appropriate treatment can be implemented.  Cats with allergies can develop wheezing and respiratory issues (allergic bronchitis and asthma).  However, breathing issues can also be due to many other illnesses and can be an emergency.  Please seek immediate medical attention for your pet if it is having difficulty breathing.

Allergies are the immune system over-reacting to things it does not or should not need to.  The goal of treatment is to try to decrease the immune response, either by suppressing the immune system and it’s activity, or to decrease the body’s response to the items it is over-reacting to.  There are a number of ways we can try to do this.

  1. Decrease exposure:  Most allergens are through contact in pets, so decreasing contact is important.  Things such as weekly bathing, soaking the feet in Epsom salts nightly, washing all bedding, and using HEPA filters in vacuums and air filters can help decrease exposure.  If the allergy is food related, finding diets without the offending ingredients can also help.  If allergy testing is pursued, it can further help point us in the correct direction for decreasing expsoure.
  2. Control histamines:  Histamines are released by white blood cells in response to allergens, and they are responsible for many of the symptoms we see such as itching, running eyes and nose, and sneezing.  Antihistamines are a relatively inexpensive, well tolerated, and safe way of controlling these.  Often anti-histamines alone are not enough to completely stop allergies, but they can be of great help.  We can help direct you with the correct dosing of antihistamines for your pet.
  3. Suppress the immune system:  Steroids are the most common medication used to do this.  Steroids work very well to suppress the immune system, but they have side effects.  Short term, they can cause increased thirst and urination, which may lead to house soiling.  They can also cause an increased appetite, which can lead to weight gain.  Long term use can cause weakening of ligaments and muscle loss, along with elevations in liver enzymes and even potentially damage to the liver.  Steroids can also make your pet more prone to infections.  Because of these reasons, we often try to use bathing and antihistamines first, and add in steroids as a later treatment for cases that don’t respond as we would like.

Veterinary dermatologists such as Dr. McKeever or Dr. Eisenschenk have immunosuppressive medications that cause less side effects than steroids.  We now also have a medication like this, called Apoquel.  These medications are more expensive, and may still require monitoring of liver and kidney enzymes or white blood cell counts as they suppress the immune system.  However, these medications are more specific to what part of the immune system they target, reportedly have fewer side effects, and may work better for some pets.

  1. Re-training the immune system:  Lastly, allergy testing can be performed to determine what the pet is specifically allergic to.  Using this information, the environment or diet can be modified to avoid triggers.  Also, an allergy extract can be made.  This extract is injected in very small amounts and slowly increased to try to teach the immune system that the allergens in it are not to be reacted to.  Allergy testing and allergy extract injections can be costly and require a lot of follow up, but may provide your pet with very specific relief and much fewer side effects than some of the other medications available.

Allergies are frustrating for all of us because they are not easily fixed, often require life-long therapy, and flare ups are common.  However, we will try to implement many of the above therapies in the best approach for you and your pet to help alleviate their symptoms.


Hitting the trails with Fido

posted on April 03, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

As the weather turns warm again, we start to get the itch to go out and explore.  Dogs can make great hiking companions with a little planning and preparation, and most enjoy getting out the house as much as we do!

The first thing you will want to make sure of is that your dog is adequately covered for fleas, ticks, and heartworm disease.  Topical flea and tick medications such as Frontline Plus and Parastar must be applied 48 hours prior to getting wet, so make sure to give this a few days in advance.  Nexgard, an oral flea and tick preventative does not have the same water warning, but still should be given in advance so that it is fully on board by the time you hit the trail.

Next, you should pack for your dog.  A first aid kit specifically for your pet is a must.  Things you may wish to have with you include bandaging material (non stick gauze pads, self adhesive wrap, and tape can all be helpful).  Saline can be used to rinse both eyes and wounds, so having a saline eye wash can also be beneficial. Tweezers, scissors, and a tick removal device also may be helpful.  Some dogs can snap when they are painful, so having a well fitting cloth muzzle may be advised as well.  Stypic powder, a nail trimmer, and benadryl can also round out the first aid kit.  Benadryl can be used for mild allergic reactions, bee stings, bug bites, and allergies while on the trail, but follow up with a veterinarian may still be required.  Lastly, talk with your veterinarian.  They may be willing to prescribe an anti-inflammatory pain medication to have on hand, and/or topical ointments for eyes or wounds.  Human pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), acetaminophen (Tylenol), and naproxen (Aleve) are all toxic to dogs and should not be used.  Having a local veterinarian/emergency veterinarian in the area where you are traveling ahead of time can help, as can having a copy of recent bloodwork and vaccine history for your pet.

Once you have a first aid kit assembled, next you should look at equipment for your dog.  Having booties with durable treads can help protect paw pads when climbing on rough surfaces.  They can also be used as a bandage in the case of a foot injury.  Some dogs will tolerate a pack to carry their own supplies.  Make sure you have a good fitting collar or harness, and an appropriate leash (most parks require a 6 ft leash).  There are options for hands free leashes that attach around your waist to allow full range of motion while you hike.  Have identification tags and microchip information up to date.  Some people use GPS trackers for their pets as well.  A tee shirt can help protect the pet from pests, sun, and branches, or there are specific vests made for hunting dogs to help protect their underside.  A life vest is also recommended if the pet is going to be in any water.  Lastly, for dogs that tend to run through the heavy brush, doggles, a pair of goggles for dogs, may be of use.  A few other things you may wish to bring include towels or blankets, and a light source for the leash/collar.

Make sure to pack plenty of fresh water for your dog.  They can get parasites such as giardia or infections such as leptospirosis from drinking water that has not been filtered properly.  Have a collapsable bowl or water bottle for them to use.  Packing a high protein snack or food is also important as they use calories and energy at a higher rate when out exploring.  Lastly, make sure you have plenty of poop bags for the journey.  It is not uncommon for them to have a few more bowel movements when excited and exploring new areas.

With a little planning, you can enjoy hours and miles of hiking with your pooch!  Happy Trails!


Posted in: Canine Health

National Puppy Day

posted on March 02, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

March 23rd is national puppy day, and this couldn’t be more fitting this year.  Dr. Hartman recently got a new springer spaniel puppy named Afton!


Puppies bring a lot of joy to the family, but are also work as well!  A puppy should never be a spur of the moment decision, breeds and breeders should be researched, and lifestyle should be evaluated before bringing home a new pet.  Different breeds have different energy levels, grooming requirements, and personalities.  Care should be used to avoid adopting from a puppy mill and rescues should be considered.  Many states also keep records of breeding facilities that they inspect.

Puppies usually can only hold their bladder for about 1-2 hours when they first come home.  It gradually increases as they get bigger (a rule of thumb is 1 hour per month of age), but some dogs are not able to go 8 hours until adulthood!  It is important to consider your lifestyle and schedule for this reason.

Puppies also require frequent visits to the vet in the first year for a number of reasons including to get booster vaccines, check weights, to make sure they are growing appropriately, and to be spayed or neutered.  Adopting from a shelter may alter some of these visits, but there is still more upkeep for puppies than for adult pets.

Puppies also should be well socialized.  Puppy classes are recommended for all dogs, even if you’ve been through a class with a previous dog.  It is a good interaction for the dogs to meet other dogs and people, and it’s always good to use the latest, proven training methods such as positive reinforcement.  Outside of class, puppies need to be introduced to a variety of things-car rides, people of various ages and appearances, stores, other dogs, water, grooming, etc.  A rule of thumb is to introduce the puppy to something new every day!  One option for puppy classes is held right here at Heritage Animal Hospital by Julie Humiston of Puppy Love Dog Training.

Lastly, puppies tend to chew and bite a lot.  This is a normal behavior, but must be trained to be appropriate.  Teaching the puppy what is acceptable to chew on, which toys are theirs, and how not to bite/nip at humans is your responsibility.  In the meantime, the house must be “puppy proofed”, removing items that are potentially dangerous to the pet if they chew on them such as electric cords, toxic plants, and potential foreign objects that could be ingested and cause an obstruction.

Despite a few inevitable relatively sleepless nights, a few accidents in the house, and maybe even a shoe or two being destroyed, puppies are a source of unconditional love and are a great joy.  If you have questions prior to adopting a puppy, please contact us, we are happy to help!

Posted in: Canine Health

Danger, dandruff ahead!

posted on February 02, 2017 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Does your pet’s skin mimic the weather outside this time of year with white flakes?  Winter causes many issues for pets and people alike.  One of the more common issues we see in pets during this time of year is dandruff, or dry, flaky, and sometimes itchy skin.

The dry air outside combined with the dry air of heat systems in most houses leads to dandruff, cracking, chapped, and flaking skin.  Harsh chemical ice melt and salt along with extreme temperatures can cause paw pads to develop sores and crack as well.  There are things we can do to help however.

First of all, it should be noted that not all dry, flaky skin issues are caused by “dry skin”.  Ringworm, mites, fleas, allergies, and other skin infections can all cause similar symptoms.  Low thyroid levels, Cushing’s disease, and other autoimmune diseases can also cause changes in haircoat and skin.  A visit to the veterinarian to rule out these things should be considered before implementing any of the below suggestions.  Please call us if you have concerns with your pet’s skin.

One of the first things that can help with dry skin is an omega fatty acid or fish oil supplement.  Omega fatty acids help decrease inflammation in the body, and can decrease the itch from allergies.  They also decrease dryness of skin and dander.  Lastly, they help boost immune function, including that of the skin.

There are some foods that have an increased amount of fatty acids, and they are usually fish based, or have claims of skin and hair benefits on the label.  These foods may also have increased amounts of vitamins A and E, and/or zinc, which are all important antioxidants and skin and immune system factors.

Having a humidifier in the house can sometimes benefit you and your pet as well, but be careful if the humidity is too high as this can cause other health issues.

Bathing may seem like a good thing, but bathing too frequently can actually worsen the issues.  Using an oatmeal shampoo and/or a leave in conditioner can help keep skin moisturized.  Avoid using human shampoos however as the pH is not appropriate for pet’s skin.  If a medicated shampoo has be dispensed for another issue, please discuss with your vet how frequently that should be done and if you can use an oatmeal shampoo or conditioner in conjunction with or instead of the prescribed shampoo.

Wipe feet after walks outside to help remove the salt and other debris.  Booties or a paw protectant cream such as udder balm/bag balm or musher’s secret can be used if cracks develop.

Hopefully together we can keep your pet’s skin healthy this winter season!


New Year’s Resolutions for Your Pet

posted on December 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Every December many of us start to think of the coming year and we often make resolutions for things we are going to do differently or try to achieve in the coming months.  This year, why not set a resolution for your pet or for both of you?

In America, 54% of dogs and 58% of cats are classified as overweight or obese.  So while you may make a resolution to lose weight yourself, why not include the household pets as well?  Start by using an actual measuring cup instead of “eyeballing” amounts of food, look for lower calorie foods and treats, limit overall treat intake, and try meal feeding instead of leaving food out all the time.  Contact us to learn more about how to formulate a safe weight loss plan for your pet.  We can recommend diets and calculate the amount of food you should be feeding.
Another part of weight loss is getting more active.  Things you can do with your dog to help get more activity for both of you include walking, jogging, running, hiking, and skijoring.  If one or both of you is a bit out of shape or just is not used to a lot of exercise, a slow build up to activity is recommended, as pets can get sore too!  You can also increase activity for your pet indoors-play with toys, lasers, or even use feeder toys to help stimulate both your pet’s mental and physical wellbeing.  Schedule a set play time each day or incorporate small amounts of increased activity and interaction (during commercial breaks of your favorite show perhaps).

There’s a saying that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but this is not true.  Try having your pet learn a new trick.  Positive reinforcement techniques such as clicker training are a great way to help shape behavior.  Cats can learn tricks too with the right encouragement!  Sit, lay down, shake, roll over, play dead, and high five are some popular tricks, but there are endless possibilities.  Other options include joining a training class or canine good citizen class, or look into becoming a certified therapy pet.

Vow to do a better job with your pet’s home care.  Did you know that it is recommended to brush your pet’s teeth daily?  Just like with humans, plaque (soft food particles, bacteria and debris) hardens into tartar after about 24 hours.  Use a pet safe toothpaste and lots of positive reinforcement.  Even if you can’t get daily, every little bit helps, and it gives you a chance to see inside their mouth to notice changes earlier.

Some breeds require daily or weekly hair brushing as well.  Nail trims should be performed every 4-8 weeks depending on the pet, and ears may need to be cleaned periodically also.  Getting into a routine can help the pet become more accustomed to these procedures, and again, you may spot changes earlier allowing easier treatment or even prevention of problems.

Put reminders on your calendar to do these things as well as giving monthly heartworm and flea and tick medications.  While discussing things to put on your calendar, make sure to schedule your pet’s yearly examination appointment as well.

Lastly, make yourself a reminder to update your contact information on your pet’s microchip and ID.  These items are not useful if they contain old contact information such as incorrect addresses or phone numbers that are no longer in service.  You can update microchip information through Home Again here.

We wish hope both you and your pet the best of luck in achieving your goals, and hope that you have a wonderful new year!screen-shot-2016-11-29-at-12-50-34-pm

Giving Thanks for our Pets

posted on November 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

There are many reasons we are thankful for our four-legged, furry friends.  Below are just a few!

  1. Comfort and love.  A pet’s love is unconditional.  It doesn’t matter what happened to you during the day, your dog is ready to greet you with a kiss and your cat will cuddle with you regardless.  The physical contact of being with your pet can provide warmth, soothe aches, and may even lower your blood pressure and heart rate which can be beneficial to your health.
  2. Support and mental health benefits.  Pets can help improve our mood, provide us with a reason to get out of bed in the morning, and can help decrease anxiety and overcome loneliness and depression.  Residents in nursing homes or assisted living facilities have a positive change when pets are regularly brought in-they become more active and outgoing.  People with pets tend to be more socially interactive as well.  Pets make a great conversation starter and basis for friendship!
  3. Pets can help us get into shape.  Dogs need regular walks, which can motivate us to get more active.  The CDC states that owning a pet has been linked with lower risk for obesity, and also states that decreased blood pressure, cholesterol, and triglyceride levels are additional benefits of owning pets.  Pets can also lead to better control of diabetes and an easier time quitting smoking.  Cat ownership is associated with lower risk of death from heart disease
  4. Pets make us laugh.  Their funny antics and play behavior is often a source of great amusement to us.
  5. Pets provide security.  Dogs can bark at intruders, and there are documented cases of pets waking owners when there are fires in the house.  Just having someone nearby can make you feel more secure.
  6. Pets teach us.  Pets can teach us many of the lessons in life.  They teach kids responsibility.  They teach us the circle of life and loss.  They teach us to love unconditionally and forgive easily.  They can teach us patience, joy, and tenacity.  They can help us grow and can teach us to care for something else above ourselves.

Overall, pets have many attributes which we are all thankful for.  In this month of giving thanks, take time to appreciate your pet too!

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Posted in: Uncategorized

Spooky Skeletons and Icky Innards

posted on October 05, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

This is the month of halloween, and skeletons, goblins, and guts will make their annual appearance.  In medicine, we tend to see bones and organs in a different way that this freaky holiday portrays however.


Dog bones costume

Since the skeleton and organs are on the inside of the body, we often require some means of diagnostic
imaging to see them.  Diagnostic imaging can include a variety of tools-the most common being x-rays (radiographs) and ultrasound.  Others include things such as CT scans, MRI scans, endoscopy (and it’s many branches), fluoroscopy, or PET scans.

Radiographs or x-rays are one of the most commonly used diagnostic imaging tools used.  They take a two dimensional picture of an area of the body.  They can see bones and metal as bright white, and gas or air as dark black, and fluid, fat, and other soft tissues as other shades of gray.  It can reveal the outline of organs as well seeing some of the contents in the stomach or intestines.  X-rays can be used to see if there is heart enlargement, fluid buildup, foreign body ingestions, tumors, fractures, bladder stones, or infections present.  X-rays are not the best at seeing inside some of the other organs such as the liver, kidneys, spleen, or pancreas.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-2-13-33-pmRadiograph of abdomen of a male dog.

Ultrasound is another common tool used to image the inside of a pet’s body.  The ultrasound is a real time movie of the organ’s insides, and can show blood flow and movement.  It has a hard time determining overall size of an organ, so x-rays are still often used to determine if a liver or heart for example are enlarged.  An echocardiogram is an ultrasound of the heart, and can be used to see the values, wall thickness, and look for turbulent blood flow (murmurs).  Abdominal ultrasounds are able to look inside the liver, gall bladder, spleen, kidneys, bladder and intestines.  It can find small organs not visible on x-rays such as the adrenal glands, lymph nodes, and the pancreas.  However, ultrasounds cannot see through gas, so it has a difficult time seeing all of the intestinal tract and stomach, and cannot be used well to look at the lungs.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-2-12-47-pmUltrasound of abdomen.  Spleen across top, left kidney in the center of the photo.

Pets can undergo CT or MRI scans as well.  They have to be anesthetized to have these performed, but these diagnostic tools give a better look inside the body.  They can be used to look at the brain, spinal cord, look for pinched nerves/slipped discs or intervertebral disc disease and for this reason are useful in planning back surgeries.  They can be used to look for tumors and tumor spread, and can often be used to plan surgical removal or or radiation treatment of certain types of cancer.

screen-shot-2016-10-05-at-2-26-14-pmMRI machine at the University of Minnesota

Another diagnostic imaging tool available is endoscopy.  This involved using a camera scope to look inside certain organs such as the GI tract (endoscopy or colonoscopy), inside the airways (bronchoscopy), inside the nose (rhinoscopy), inside the ears (otoscopy) or inside the joints (arthroscopy).  Small samples of tissues can often be taken when using a scope to help get a diagnosis.  Sometimes removal of foreign material or tumors or polyps can also be performed with a scope.

Fluoroscopy is very similar to x-rays, but it is a live movie like x-ray.  It is used for things that are dynamic, such as collapsing tracheas or swallow studies.  This is only done at specialty clinics.

Lastly, some animals can have a PET scan done.  PET scans are a specialized test where a radioactive medication is given, and images are taken to see where the medication travels in the body and where there is uptake.  For instance, thyroid cancers tend to uptake radioactive iodine medications.  This is a very specialized type of diagnostic imaging that is only used in certain cases and is performed by specialists.

Overall, with the variety of diagnostic imaging tools available in the medicine field, we are able to diagnose a variety of diseases, perform surgery or start medications to help manage, treat, or even cure these diseases, and to monitor progress.  Through imaging, we are able to offer better medicine for our pets!

Icky Ears

posted on September 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

This time of year we start seeing a lot of seasonal allergies pick up again, and one of the things that goes hand in hand (paw in paw?) with allergies for some pets is ear infections.

There are a number of different types of ear infections, also known as otitis.  There are a normal amount of bacteria and yeast that live on the skin, and the immune system usually keeps them in check.  When conditions are right for the yeast or bacteria to overgrow, or if the immune systems is not able to work properly, an infection can start.  Infections can be just bacteria, just yeast, or a mixed infection of both.

Wet conditions and lack of airflow into the ear can cause yeast and bacteria to overgrow.  Pets that swim a lot, or get water into their ears during bathing, or even pets with long floppy ears, may be more prone to ear infections.  We generally recommend using a veterinary ear cleaner after bathing or swimming to help prevent this.  The ear cleaners we carry have a drying agent in them to help prevent the water buildup leading to bacteria or yeast overgrowth.

Allergies are the immune system over reacting to things in the environment, usually things it does not need to react to.  This can change the skin’s immune response, and can also lead to secondary infections especially if there is inflammation or if the pet is scratching the skin raw.  This can lead to overgrowth of bacteria and/or yeast as well.

Pets can also get mites in the ear.  These usually occur in young puppies and kittens, but can occur in any pet exposed to them.

If left untreated, ear infections, regardless of cause, can cause further problems.  If the pet is shaking their head excessively, an ear hematoma can form.  This is when the small blood vessels in the ear flap (pinna) break and the ear pinna fills with fluid.  Ear infections can also affect the ear drum and potentially hearing and balance.

If you notice your pet has a foul odor in it’s ear, has discharge or redness to the ear, or is shaking it’s head and scratching excessively, we should probably examine them.  We will likely want to take a sample of any discharge present, so don’t clean it before coming in.  We will examine it under a microscope to look for yeast, bacteria, white blood cells, red blood cells, skin cells, or mites.  This helps us determine which type of medication and treatment is best.  We may also examine the ear drum and perform a thorough cleaning for you.  Medications and cleanings may be prescribed for you to do at home, and we will show you how to do these.  Call us today if you think your pet has an ear infection!


Black Footed Ferrets

posted on August 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

For those of you that know Dr. Hartman, you may know that she has a passion for ferrets.  She has owned 7 of them through her lifetime, and loves seeing them here at the clinic.  Recently, Dr. Hartman was in Colorado visiting family and she was lucky enough to get to meet Louise, a black footed ferret in the recovery program out there.

Black footed ferrets are part of the mustelid family just like our pet ferrets, but they are native to North America whereas our pet ferrets are domesticated descendants of the European polecat.  Black footed ferrets were believed to be extinct in the late 1970s/early 1980s, until a dog named Shep killed one in Meeteetse, Wyoming in September 1981.  This lead to a recovery effort where 18 ferrets were brought into captivity to help repopulate the species.  Of these 18, 6 died, leaving 12 animals left to save to species.

Fast forward 30 some years.  The rescue program has breed over 8500 ferrets from about 300 black footed ferrets kept in captivity.  The offspring have been released into the wild in 24 sites in Arizona, Colorado, Kansas, Montana, New Mexico, South Dakota, Utah, Wyoming, and in parts of Canada and Mexico.  Success rates of released black footed ferrets range from 0-75%.  Black footed ferrets depend on prairie dogs as 90% of their food, so plague in the prairie dogs and loss of land for habitat are two big factors affecting their survival.  The goal is to successfully build the wild black footed ferret population back up to 3000 adults.

The Rocky Mountain Arsenal National  Wildlife Refuge is one of the locations involved in this recovery program.  They have released 30 some ferrets into the 25 square mile preserve with hopes to release more in the future.  Louise is one of their retired breeding ferrets and now serves as an ambassador for education in their exhibit on black footed ferrets.  She had 5 litters through her breeding years, for a total of 12 kits (babies).  In the wild, black footed ferrets live an average of 3 years, but in captivity can live up to around 10 years in captivity.  Dr. Hartman was beyond thrilled to get to meet Louise!

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To find out more about the recovery of the black footed ferret, please check out:

Posted in: Uncategorized

More than just a pretty face…

posted on July 01, 2016 by Dr. Jamie Hartman

Periodontal disease is inflammation or loss of support structures for the teeth-including the gingiva (gums), periodontal ligament, and the bone.  85% of dogs and 75% of cats over the age of 3 have periodontal disease.  As periodontal disease progresses, it can lead to tooth loss.  However, there are other, less obvious side effects to periodontal disease.  The chronic inflammation in the mouth leads to inflammatory mediators and bacterial byproducts and toxins to be circulated throughout the body and can cause distant organ effects.

In human medicine, studies have shown that stage 2 periodontal disease, which means there is greater than 21% of bone loss surrounding the teeth, leads to a greater than 70% increase in death. This is greater than the risk of smoking!  Obviously pets aren’t people, but studies have shown organ changes from periodontal disease.  We often see an increase in liver enzymes from the inflammation of the mouth.  There are increased fibrotic (scar tissue) changes in the kidneys, liver, and heart muscles found on post mortem exam.  Diabetes control is more difficult in patients with periodontal disease as well.

Patients with periodontal disease had a 14% increased risk for cancer, after adjusting for other known risk factors.

The eyes can become affected by dental disease as well.  Facial swelling, draining tract, exophthalmos (eyes protruding from their sockets), and blocked tear ducts can all be secondary to dental disease.  Pain on opening mouth can also be from dental disease and cellulitis (inflammation of the tissues) surrounding the eye.

The nervous system can also be affected by periodontal disease.  Retained baby teeth can be a risk factor for tetanus in rare cases.  In humans, there is a 57% increased risk of stroke associated with advanced periodontal disease.

Lastly, the heart can be affected by dental disease.  There is one study performed by Banfield that seems to suggest there is an increased risk of infective endocarditis (infection of the inner tissues of the heart, usually the valves).  There have been changes found in the papillary muscles of the heart in pets with increased periodontal disease.  And again, there has been found to be increased risk of strokes in humans.

Overall, there is proof that it’s more than “just teeth” and that dental health is an important factor in a pet’s overall health.  We assess teeth with every physical examination we perform, and grade your pet’s teeth on a 0-4 scale.  Zero is new puppy teeth, no tartar or gingivitis present.  Grade 1 is some tartar but no gingivitis seen.  Grade 2 means we are starting to see inflammation of the gums.  Grade 3 means the gums are receding, and grade 4 means teeth are loose which indicates bone loss.  Grades 3 and 4 are not reversible, so we recommend performing a thorough examination, probing, cleaning, and polishing of the teeth under anesthesia before we reach this level.  Ask us at your next visit what your pet’s dental disease score is!

* A special thank you to Dr. Donnell Hansen, DVM, DAVDC for the use of these statistics from her lecture.


12624 Bass Lake Road
Maple Grove, MN 55369
Located just east of highway 494 on Bass Lake Road,
behind Culver's.

Communities We Serve:

Plymouth, Maple Grove, Brooklyn Center, Brooklyn Park, Osseo, Corcoran, Greenfield, Champlin, New Hope, Minnetonka, Minneapolis, Rogers, Robbinsdale, Hamel and Golden Valley, Minnesota (MN).