The Important, Almighty Teeth!

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Time and again in the exam room we are asked if a particular teeth cleaning chew is appropriate for dogs.  Clients describe anything from bones, to particular products marketed exclusively for teeth to other chew toys commonly found in pet stores.  There are too many products out there to be familiar with all, but we can offer some helpful hints in order to choose safe options for your pets.  Careful selection of appropriate chews is very important to your pet’s oral health, not just for the purpose of cleaning their teeth, but to not cause damage to your pet’s teeth as well.  When dog’s chew a chew toy, they do so with great strength using the large 4th premolar, also known as the Carnassial tooth.  It is the largest tooth in their mouths and is the main tooth used for chewing and grinding up food.  Dogs that chew hard chews may fracture the exterior part of the tooth.  This is called a slab fracture.  This type of fracture exposes the sensitive “pulp chamber” inside the tooth which contains the blood vessel and nerve.  It is a painful lesion and places the tooth at high risk for abscess/infection.
slab fx
X rays of the tooth are required to determine if the pulp chamber is exposed, giving bacteria access to the root and other sensitive structures of the tooth and to ensure that surrounding teeth have not been damaged as well.  Treatment options include a root canal if the tooth meets criteria or surgical extraction of the tooth.  This tooth contains 3 roots which extend deeply into the jaw bone.  It is a painful lesion and requires extraction.  Dental fractures caused by hard chews are one of the most common reasons for extractions in dogs.
Obviously we want to try to avoid these injuries and extractions at all costs.  Although most people feel hard chews will help clean their pets teeth, they will likely fracture them as well. The Veterinary Oral Health Care Specialists (VOHC) is a group of board certified veterinary dental specialists.  They have a “kneecap” rule.  If you wouldn’t want to be hit in the kneecap by a chew you are contemplating giving your dog, then it is too hard and should not be given to them, as it can fracture their teeth.  Bones, antlers and other synthetic hard chews are good examples of this. CET chews are a good example of a safe chew.  You can look for the VOHC seal on any dental product to see if they have approved it as a safe and effective part of your pets health care routine.
If you have any questions regarding safe chew toys or fractured teeth please call or make an appointment to speak to one of our veterinarians or veterinary technicians.  Happy chewing!

What is The Farley Foundation?

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The Farley Foundation was established in 2001 by the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OVMA) to help low income pet owners by subsidizing the cost of urgent veterinary care. The foundation relies on donations to provide funding for those in need.

Donations to the Farley Foundation are made by the veterinary community and generous pet owners. The OVMA and veterinary clinics team together to educate and promote awareness to pet owners on the Farley Foundation and how their involvement can help owners in need. Funding from the Farley Foundation is only distributed in Ontario, but sees donations from all over North America.

The Farley Foundation reviews their eligibility criteria annually and to be able to provide the most funding available to the greatest number of people in need.

The Farley Foundation has helped over 7200 pet owners and pets since its funding was available in 2002. They have helped a variety of pets from cats and dog to ferrets and guinea pigs. Helping with diagnostics, surgery, hospitalization and necessary medications.

With the OVMA heading up this foundation and corporate sponsors supporting fundraising, they are able to keep costs very low allowing the majority of the donations to be used towards pets and pet owners in need. Over 75% of donations have been allocated to be used towards veterinary care for pets.

You can help support the Farley Foundation by donating anytime through the Farley Foundation website, or by participating in any of their ongoing fundraising event.  October is Fundraise for Farley Month, you can come in and support Farley by donating to the registered charity and have paw prints displayed with your support. In October of 2015 Farley raised over $260,000 with dedicated partnerships between veterinary health care teams and support of their corporate partner Royal Canin.

For the entire month of October we will be accepting donations towards Farley. We will be holding a bake sale October 29th and 30th, and for a donation your pet can take part in Halloween photo shoot on October 30th ! All proceeds will go to the Farley Foundation.

Come join us in our efforts to help support low income pet owners and pets with urgent medical care needs!

Is Pet Insurance All it’s Cracked Up to Be?

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Many clients come in with their new puppy and kittens asking us, what’s the deal with pet insurance?

Insurance for your pets is not a new concept, just the same as your car insurance or your own personal critical illness insurance. It is not a scam and can be very beneficial. We encourage everyone to do their research to find what works best for them.

There are a handful of pet insurance companies and they offer similar plans with deductibles and monthly premiums. Your monthly premium depends on what kind of coverage you choose, breed of your pet, area that you are in and any pre-existing conditions your pet may have. You can adjust your premiums and deductible to balance how you would like to pay. A low monthly premium and have a high deductible, vice-versa or somewhere in the middle.

I encourage pet owners to get insurance while their pet is young, before any pre-existing issues occur. This way the entire pet is covered without exclusions. You may be offered a free trial, take it! If your pet does not get sick in this time you don’t get the opportunity to try it out but it does give you 4-6 weeks of free insurance in case something does happen. This time can be used to research companies and have peace of mind you are covered.

There are countless stories of clients who have taken their free trial and their pet did unfortunately get very ill in that time of the trial. The insurance company they had the trial with paid for those bills no questions asked, no money out of the client’s pocket. We have seen upwards of tens of thousands of dollars paid for by an insurance company that the client has not even paid yet. That to me is a pretty good deal!

What if I just save the money I would pay for my premium with? This is an alternative, however, if your premium is $50 dollars a month, which is only $600 dollars a year. Should your pet have an emergency or unexpected illness you could expect to pay hundreds or thousands. As an example, if your pet were to develop vomiting and diarrhea it could be anywhere from $200-$400 or break their leg jumping off the bed, it could cost anywhere from $2000 to $4000. Having pet insurance may alleviate the stress of the vet bills. If your pet was insured you may only need to pay your deductible, saving you money and stress.

Not everything is covered under every insurance policy, preventative care and pre-existing conditions can be excluded. You’ll pay for the annual visit and vaccines but you are covered if your pet acquired an illness. Talking to the insurance companies and getting an understanding of what you are paying for, when do you need to pay your deductible and what they would be paying for is an important part of your research.

Pet insurance is not for everyone and some people choose to go other routes. When faced with an emergency, it is nice to not have to make the all too common decision between money and your pet.

Who and What is AAHA?

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The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) is the only organization in the United States and Canada that accredits companion animal hospitals based on standards that meet or exceed state and provincial regulations. Only 5% of all Canadian practices are AAHA Accredited. Established in 1993, the Association is well known among veterinarians for its leadership in the profession, high standards for veterinary practices and pet health care, and most importantly, its accreditation of campion animal practices.

Did you know that accreditation for animal hospitals is voluntary? Surprising, isn’t it? Nearly 60 percent of pet owners believe that their pet’s veterinary hospital is accredited when it is not. In actuality, only 5% of Canadian animal hospitals have gone through the accreditation evaluation process by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA). We are proud to call ourselves an AAHA-accredited hospital.

Accreditation by AAHA means that an animal hospital has been evaluated on approximately 900 standards of veterinary excellence. To maintain their accreditation, hospitals undergo a rigorous review by veterinary experts every three years. State and provincial regulations can vary widely – in fact, some states don’t routinely inspect hospitals, only going in for an inspection when a complaint is filed by a pet owner. AAHA accreditation is considered the standard for veterinary excellence, and does not vary between states or provinces (AAHA accredits hospitals in both the U.S. and Canada).

We are an AAHA-accredited veterinary hospital. That means we hold ourselves to a higher standard. Pets are our passion. And keeping them healthy is our #1 priority. Here, we strive to deliver excellent care for pets. Because your pets deserve nothing less.

July 22 is AAHA Accredited Hospital Day. A day where we can celebrate holding ourselves to a higher standard!

Learn more about AAHA accreditation and why our accreditation is important to you and your pet. Visit aaha.org/petowner.