Your Biggest Pet Health Questions Answered!

15 min

We’ve compiled the most common pet health questions from our Instagram followers and asked them on your behalf during one of our Instagram Live presentations! Special guest, Dr. Wood from Torrey Highlands Pet Health in San Diego, CA joined us to provide the answers to these tough questions:

  • Is the grain-free diet really best for my dog and cats?
  • What should I be doing to keep up with my pets health?
  • What is papilloma?
  • What vaccines are considered necessary and what are supplementary?
  • How often should I be getting my dog’s teeth cleaned?

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Let’s talk Grain-free or a raw diet for cats and dogs. I think diets for pets or kind of like diets for people and a lot of the time we just make them unnecessarily complicated and you can always go back to your grandma. Somebody’s advice. It would just say eat healthy, which is good advice for us people in the dog and cat world what we would say Most of the time as they should be on a commercial diet which is formulated for their stage of life. So that would be kitten or puppy young active dog adult and then moving up into the geriatric breeds where we do start restricting protein and doing some of those other things a lot of the information on diets, like people’s opinions on nutrition for us. I Is overly complicated and confused by marketing and it becomes very difficult to sort it out. But I think what most veterinarians and animal nutritionists would tell you would be to feed nationally known brand of dog food that’s been around forever and there certainly are brands of dog food that have been around 80 years or more and I think most veterinarians and studies the big three they always talk about our Purina diets like Trainer Pro Plan, Hills Science Diet and Royal Canin are the big names in dog foods and we always say people always have their own opinions about nutrition whether it’s for ourselves or for our pets but in reality grain free gluten free are rarely a considerations in dogs and cats. Cats are certainly carnivores and they don’t need much carbohydrate in their diet. But dogs, like us, are omnivores and they do eat grain in those kind of products and it’s an important part of their diet and not a filler as some people would lead you to believe so we rarely worry about gluten free grain free unless we have that very uncommon pet that seems to have an allergy for that I think in In rare situations raw food diets are indicated but generally for the health of our pets and for the health of ourselves we tend to shy away a bit from raw diets because we don’t want to bring salmonella E coli and other parasites either into the pets food chain or into the food processing chain in our household and potentially infect us people. Certainly a lot of processing a pet food is heat treating it which kills bacteria and parasites but some of the raw food diets do have pressure treatments that can accomplish that so hopefully that’s not too long of an answer for you. Please explain pet parasites, and the types of parasite controls you recommend keeping up with? and probably the number one communicable disease between dogs once they have had their Vaccinations in there beyond the distemper parvovirus worry about things are intestinal parasites. And as we all know with cat are a bit more fastidious than dogs. That’s for sure. But all of us with dogs know that we walk them they’ll chew on anything eat anything sniff anything and that is commonly how they pass parasites from dog to dog. Probably the big ones we worry about parasite wise are the intestinal parasites which are the common worm type parasite roundworms hook worms whipworms. Then we have protozoan parasites like Giardia and Giardia is probably the number one parasite of cats and dogs nowadays that we diagnose and then we have other protozoan parasites like coccidia, and we can we have medication for All of those we have tests where we can detect them and most of the time in dogs with their habits. It’s just a matter of medication to control the parasites when they get them and rid them of the parasites and then the other parasite we worry about a lot is heartworms, which is actually a worm type parasite that lives in the hearts hearts of dogs and also infects cats. spread from pet to pet by mosquitoes and we manage that with a monthly preventative medication and that monthly preventive medication for heartworms also controls the intestinal parasites we talked about most of them meaning roundworms hook worms whipworms tapeworms are all controlled by that so as much as we dislike giving our pets medication and these kind of things I think the They receive from it far out exceeds any risk that they’re exposed to and it’s just because of the habits of dogs expose them to a lot of parasites that we need to control for their health. Is there a certain time of the year we should we worried about mosquitos? You know that there are you know and in San Diego, I guess we’re fortunate and that’s why everybody wants to live here because we’re not we don’t have any really harsh Seasons that kill mosquito. So we do have more mosquitoes during the summer but they’re around most of the year and the other problem not to make this too complicated but dogs get And cats get heartworms because a mosquito lands on dog or a cat a bites the infected dog or cat flies to dog cat dog, or cat be and bites them and that’s how the parasites are passed. But the way the heartworm medication works is it kills that parasite during its migratory phase which can be over one or two month period so nowadays. It’s recommended that heartworm medication be given year round because we are treating not only the current moment, but the any parasites that maybe in the migratory phase so it’s long enough that migratory period is long enough that it’s just simpler more effective to give them the medication once a month year round or for heartworms. Now they do have an injection that for 12 months Thank you so much that was very helpful. What are your tips for maintaining basic health for our pets? basic health you asking. Yeah, you know in a lot of that we talked about already as in us people, nutrition is important not only in young growing pets that need adequate minerals. for bone growth but not excessive minerals that might hurt with that. I think in any stage of Life as we know and people we want to control our weight because being overweight compounds a lot of other heart problems, or respiratory problems, joint problems , inflammatory problems. So nutrition is critical in all stages of life. You know, we do not like to over vaccinate dogs and cats and in the old days. certainly we gave it seems like we gave endless vaccines every year. But nowadays. We have vaccines for most things that are good for three years. So we vaccinate most cats and dogs every three years and we do have a lot of more advanced vaccines that contain less byproduct, less preservative and we Eliminate or minimize those things in the vaccine. So we minimize the risk to pets. But anyway, certainly with vaccines the risk of vaccination is far outweighed by the benefits that pets get from it and those of us especially in the midst of this pandemic that we’re talking about now, but those of us in veterinary medicine that see dogs die from distemper and Parvo virus and see cats die from panleukopenia, which is the technical name for cat distemper recognize that vaccinations very important. And then on you go General Health Training. So dogs come when they’re called and you know avoid accidents running in the street and those kind of things, you know, socializing our pets so they interact with other dogs without too much. Mayhem going on and those are the kind of important things I think for Pet Health I think those are the big things. That’s wonderful. Thank you and speaking of vaccines, Can you talk a little bit about vaccines: why they are important and what it is they guard against? you know, the main vaccines that we use nowadays. I think like when we get vaccines ourself, we talk about core vaccines and non-core vaccines certainly cats get vaccinated for feline distemper. Which panleukopenia is the real name for that and then several viral. Users would like Rhino tracheitis and Khaleesi virus and we vaccinate our cats and kittens for those All Pets cats and dogs get vaccinated for rabies for a couple of reasons, one because it’s a big threat to them. And also it’s a big public health issue because it is a rare creature whether it’s a cat dog or person that survives rabies infection, and it’s not a huge problem in the People population here in San Diego and most places in the US but it certainly is here in bats skunks and other wild animals. So what’s around us and what we don’t want to have happen is that Viral Reservoir move from those creatures into the pet and people population, which is what we talked about a lot nowadays with this covid virus moving from that sand to the human. you know basic core vaccines and dogs the big ones that we really absolutely have to protect dogs from our parvovirus in December and a lot of people I think are just misinformed about those vaccines, but with young dogs puppies, it’s important that they get a minimum of two vaccines, but often they will get three for even more as they go through their puppyhood and development just depending on at what age they start their vaccines and how frequently they’re given. So those are the big ones distemper and parvo but we also vaccinate for infectious canine hepatitis, which is a viral disease parainfluenza, which is a viral disease and and you know in the up and and coming one now that’s newer that is now considered a core vaccines for dogs is leptospirosis and leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that spread in the urine of other animals in our Urban Suburban kind of Lifestyles that most of us in America live in that is mice, rats, possums, raccoons and things coming through our yard and through our through Parks, and they do indeed leave that leptospirosis there. So we do vaccinate for that now as well. There’s other non-core vaccines like Lyme disease and those things that may be used under special circumstances for generally not ones that we vaccinate for very much. Oh and Bordetella, I knew ours forget Lauren Casey just reminded me and the other one we vaccinate for a lot, which I’m sure. Are you do at FIDUS, you know concierge services, Dog Park, Doggie Daycare, dog training. All of those is Bordetella, which is they used to in the old days called kennel cough, but nowadays, maybe they say we should call it dog park cough or Doggy Daycare cough or one of those other things and so we vaccinate for that as well because it is readily or highly contagious from dog to dog. It’s not a life-threatening disease generally, but it’s certainly annoying if your dog coughs for four to six weeks and you know when you’re giving them medication.

Let’s talk dental cleaning. Dental hygiene is important and a lot of again dental disease and pets is just like your eye in a big component of how healthy our teeth are is genetic. So if Grammy and grandpa had good teeth you’re in good shape. If they were cursed then you may be a bit cursed too and the same happens in the Pet World and we tend to see more Dental. disease in smaller dogs than we do in the bigger ones. That’s not universally true. But pretty generally that is true. And what do we do about it? Well, we evaluate the pets and see what happens. Most of them are probably seeing their veterinarian once a year twice a year or at least every couple of years for vaccines and those kind of issues and that’s a good time for the veterinarian to look at. Our teeth and see how they’re doing certainly in dogs that have significant dental problems brushing. Their teeth daily is good for them. You know, when we use a doggy toothpaste a toothbrush and doggy toothpaste because we don’t want them swallowing all the fluoride and everything that is in our toothpaste. So we use those and then cleaning it all depends on the dog. Some dogs might have of their teeth cleaned once or twice in their life other dogs would have their teeth cleaned every six months and end up losing multiple teeth and it certainly can be problematic for them. Let’s see so, you know controversy always is do they have to be put on your anesthesia to have their teeth clean and the answer to that is generally yes, unless the risk of anesthesia is so great that we say. Is the potential benefit from dealing with their teeth does not warrant the risk of anesthesia, but you know, no guarantees with a anesthesia, but nowadays we examine pets before they go under under listen to their hearts. We do blood tests to look at their liver and kidney function. We probably have as many monitors on pets under anesthesia nowadays as they do on On you or I if we were under so we know what their blood oxygen is. We know what their heart rate is. We know what their breathing rate is. We can see their EKG and make sure it is a normal Rhythm, you know in in all these elaborate machines if we did not notice it which we would because we’re watching, have alarm setup. So under certain circumstances if we haven’t addressed something they call our attention to it so in Nutshell, we would say that if a pet really needs their teeth cleaned probably the risk of not addressing that is greater than the risk of anesthesia. And if I may add one more thing, why do we do that? Because when we look at our pets teeth we can see the tartar on their teeth if we look closely but that cosmetic part of that we see on the teeth is unpleasant and may be producing an odor, but the real problem is up. Underneath the gums and that’s like when you and I have our teeth clean in the hygienist is up there kind of getting up underneath the gums and getting that plaque and tartar out of there. That’s the real problem and we will sit there and cooperate with them but certainly dogs find it a bit unpleasant and I think in the vast majority of the cases, it’s hard to do an adequate job without anesthetizing them. Need to evaluate the risk of anesthesia and make a good decision about that. Absolutely. Thank you so much. So Once a day, yeah. Yeah, but you know, that’s kind of standard, you know, and once a day would be best for most pets and it’s one of those things to introduced it to our pets slowly try to make them see it as an enjoyable time to interact with the you know their owners and they’re rewarded for it. And we want to make it a pleasant experience for them not you know an ordeal they have to go through and they have Toothbrushes and flavored toothpaste and all of that and I think in the vast majority of pets if we introduce them to it, they tolerate it then don’t mind there certainly are those where it just is not going to happen. That’s for sure. But most of the time yes, and once a day is the standard frequency we would recommend that’s perfect. I’m going to see what time it is. Do you need to go see if you have more questions? So if you have more questions, we have a bit more time. Yeah. Oh, sure! You know, I think there’s a lot of different things you can do to help Keep keep teeth healthy and certainly one we go back to Nutrition a good diet. Like for everything in our bodies is important. They make these Dental diets for dogs and cats and babies. Basically, they’re just a larger kibble that when the dogs or cats bite into those have enough of abrasive action that they can remove some of that tartar. So that works. Well, you know, and then otherwise, I’m afraid that like most things in life the harder things work better. If we want to take care of our teeth. We have to brush our teeth and floss our teeth. So we have to go that extra step, you know, if the Floors dirty you can sweep it but really scrubbing it is really what gets it clean and the same is true with teeth. I think that Dental brushing is the most important certainly Dental chews work to some degree or rinses work to some degree but like with us, you just have to somehow mechanically get that debris off the teeth and the toothbrush is the best way to do it. Yeah, absolutely. That’s really good. We’re reading a reading a question on the bottom here. It says can you speak about papilloma? And how long till it goes away? Did you see that question pop up, you know, I guess what papilloma. It depends on what exactly were talking about and papilloma is just a benign tumor. And again we’re talking. Dogs here maybe not cats because dogs get a lot of lumps and bumps and most of them are benign cats don’t get many lumps and bumps and a lot of those are more serious. But traditionally we would think about a papilloma as being a benign lump dogs do get what we call viral papillomas on the mouth and tongue and in their oral cavity and often, you know, technically speaking. We always say without a tissue sample and somebody looking at it under the microscope. We can’t say with great confidence exactly what it is, but a lot of times we can look at those and say the chance is very likely that’s a papilloma a lot of these viral papillomas and younger dogs eventually resolve on their own, you know other types of skin growths and those kind of things we tend to watch them. Item instead just stop and think about what is you know, how angry does that Look I mean is I look like a little benign growth or is it getting to look like a growth that we should take more seriously and a growth we take seriously grows rapidly the surface ulcerates. It bleeds it’s painful and we look for those kind of things and those lumps we move in in address much more. Quickly, and then also we can do what’s called cytology. We can put a needle into a lump collect cells from it and often get a good indication of what it is. Okay, that’s good. I don’t know if this could be the last one. I see one last one is talking about long-term anxiety medication and behavioral and environmental adjustments that and that’s We deal with a lot and we back in the very beginning we talked a bit about what is you know, the basic important things for our pets health and a lot of that is socialization. So we like to get pets when they’re young and socialize them. So they’re happy around other pets. They’re happy around, you know, men women children all those kind of things. Things so we want them adjusting to all that we want them to be able to go to the park go to dog beach and behave normally and not find it anxiety-inducing situation. There are any of a number of anti-anxiety medications we use and dogs nowadays and it’s not uncommon in what we kind of call fear free practice like we have here to give dogs or cats medication like trazodone or Gabapentin. And before they come in just to cut down on their anxiety level. So it’s not too much of an ordeal for them. We can look at them and make it as pleasant an experience as possible there certainly are other dogs that have more major anxiety problems and literally some of those dogs end up on Prozac Xanax and much more potent anti-anxiety medications, but what was What about that question is it and we would commonly if a pet have that degree of anxiety, we would send them to a Veterinary behaviorist and we have seen a couple of those here in San Diego and our goal behind that is not to take somebody’s pet and put them on lifelong medication. Our goal is to deal with their immediate discomfort with some type of medication and then introduce some kind of training. All modification protocols or regime so that we can eventually get that pet comfortable in those situations and take them off the medication because nobody wants to be on medication forever. Thank you so so much for today. Thank you for answering our questions. They ca-n call us contact us and it thank you, I think FIDUS is doing a terrific job. It’s a newer idea and working well, and it’s been fun to do this today. Thank you so so much for your help. Alrighty. Thank you. Alright everyone. Thank you so so much for watching. I apologize on my end. If there were some internet issues again. I did have some here at FIDUS today. I don’t know why it seems only happen when I had a another person here. But thank you so much for joining in today today. I was really really looking forward to having a veterinarian here. We had some great questions. Some were prepared But also you guys have really great questions and the vet is here for you guys. If you have any more, please feel free to reach out to them is things Afterwards, my name is Jasmine. I am the general manager here at FIDUS. If you have any other questions that maybe we couldnt address today. I do plan on having him come back or another veterinarian. There are quite a few that we work with and we will make sure to answer those questions. So again, thank you so much for joining in today. I will be back on Friday. We’re going to have another really fun episode of some DIY dog puzzles, and I talked about quite a few times and I hope that everybody learne-d something today and you have any more questions feel free to reach out. Our phone number is 858-925-6152 You can email us at [email protected]. Thank you for joining. I will see you guys on Friday at 1 p.m. Pacific Standard Time with another really fun DIY dog puzzles. Thank you so much for watching. I