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February 2009

Pet First Aid Class in New Milford, CT

The 8 hour pet saver program will be held on Sunday, May 17th in New Milford, CT. Topics include restraining and muzzling,primary pet assessment, rescue breathing and CPR, bleeding and shock, fractures, insect bites and stings, snakebite, heat and cold injuries, pet vitals, poisoning and poisonous substances, choking, pet first aid kits and emergency prepardness kits, snout to tail assessments, dental care and healthy living.

The cost is $135pp and includes lunch, handbook and supplemental handouts. To register for this class, contact me at

Pet First Aid Class in Danbury, Ct

The 8 hour pet saver program will be held on Sunday, April 26th in Danbury, Ct. Topics covered will be restraining and muzzling, primary pet assessment, rescue breathing and CPR, bleeding and shock, fractures, insect bites and stings, snakebite, seizures, heat and cold injuries, pet vitals. poisoning and poisonous substances. choking. snout to tail assessments, first aid kits and emergency prepardness kits, dental care and healthy living.

The cost is $135pp and includes lunch, handbook and supplemental handouts. To register for this class, contact me at

Periodontal Disease 101 by Beth Cristiano


Do you want to increase your pet’s lifespan by up to 30%? You can, just by spending 2-3 minutes a day on an oral hygiene regimen you may possibly add years to your pet’s life.  The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates by age three 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop oral disease; because they do not have an oral care program. Imagine if you did not brush your teeth until your 20’s.  Ewwwww!!  Research shows a strong connection between poor oral health and organic disease. When teeth and gums are not cared for bacteria can enter the bloodstream through the gums. The bacteria may then infect vital organs causing illness, disease and ultimately death. A comprehensive oral care program will improve the quality and quantity of pet’s lives.                                        

Pet’s teeth like ours have three layers.

1.      Enamel is the hard, protective outermost layer on which plaque and later calculus form.

2.      Dentin is a bone-like substance that makes up most of the structure the tooth.

3.      Pulp is the core of the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels.Toothdiagram

Periodontal disease does not happen overnight but it may occur quicker than you’d imagine. It all begins with plaque, the milky white substance that forms on teeth and gums. Plaque is made up of food remains, bacteria and enzymes. If plaque is not removed it combines with minerals in saliva to form calculus (or tartar) which adheres like cement to enamel. Plaque starts to mineralize in just 3-5 days. The mineralization process is similar to candle dipping where one layer forms on top of the other. If the calculus is not removed it builds along and eventually under the gum-line. Tartar erodes the gums and forms pockets which allow more bacterial growth. There are four stages of periodontal disease. Each stage has the same signs as the previous with increasing severity.

Stage 1 Minimal plaque and calculus build up and redness at the gum line.

Stage 2 Swelling at the gum line and bleeding upon probing.

Stage 3 Receding gums.

Stage 4 Pyorrhea, a discharge of pus, deep pockets in the gums and loose or missing teeth.

The treatments associated with each stage are as follow:

Stage 1 Manual scaling, polish and irrigation, the mouth has an excellent prognosis.

Stage 2 Ultrasonic scaling, polish and irrigation, good prognosis.

Stage 3 Ultrasonic scaling, polish, irrigate and curettage, removal of diseased tissue, guarded prognosis.

Stage 4 Ultrasonic scaling, polish, irrigate, curettage and possible extractions, guarded prognosis

As you can see there are two types of scaling which are used to remove calculus buildup. Manual scaling uses hand-held tools, it is time-consuming and is best suited for mild cases. Ultrasonic or mechanical scaling uses instruments powered by compressed air which is the safest and most effective technique to remove buildup below the gum line.  Both methods require polishing and irrigation. The enamel of the teeth must be polished because the scaling process causes microscopic scratches which are ideal for plaque and tartar to re-adhere and flourish. The purpose of polishing is to smooth the scratches. Irrigation, the final step is essential because it flushes away loose debris that could cause infection. The veterinarian will decide the degree/severity of disease and which course of action is required. Veterinarian’s and certified technicians are the only people suited to perform these delicate tasks. If an ultrasonic scaling is needed the pet must be anesthetized and therefore the procedure MUST be done in the vet’s office. Most pets require pre-procedure blood work and those with special considerations such as, geriatric or immune-suppressed patients may require prophylactic antibiotics.  Symptoms that can accompany periodontal disease are

* Bad or foul breath

* Loose or missing teeth

* Red swollen gums

* Difficulty or pain when eating

* Excessive salivation beyond breed norm

* Extra time eating

* Bleeding gums

* Loss of appetite

* Yellow-brown tartar deposits

* Begging more


                   Severe Periodontal Disease  Dentalbefore   


                   After Cleaning                      Dentalafter

Now we will move on to prevention and maintenance. With the exception of youngsters, most pets begin their oral hygiene routine with a professional cleaning. Once you have established a clean fresh mouth; teeth should be brushed regularly, daily is best. They need appropriate toys and treats to strengthen periodontal ligaments which hold the teeth in the jaw. Lastly, great consideration should be put into making dietary selections for your pet; some choices can exacerbate oral disease. Periodontal disease and related health problems are preventable with annual oral exams and a home hygiene regimen.

 Periodontal disease does NOT occur without discomfort and or pain. Any pet in pain or being moved into pain can and will bite. Use extreme caution when working in and around an animal’s mouth.

Rub 'em, Scrub 'em, Keep Those Pearlies White

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, by age three 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop dental disease. Clinical research shows a direct correlation between poor oral health and systemic diseases. Bacteria, food debris and saliva cause plaque. It takes three to five days for plaque to become calculus, commonly known as “tartar”. Bacteria enter the bloodstream at the gum line. These bacteria can infect the heart, liver, kidney, lungs and weaken the immune system as it travels throughout the body. Left untreated, periodontal disease will lead to oral pain, tooth loss and systemic problems.

How do you know if your pet has periodontal disease? Signs include:

1.       Your pet has bad breath.

2.       Their gums are inflamed.

3.       The gums bleed while they are eating.

4.       There is tartar build-up on the teeth and gum line. Tartar is the yellowish-brown crusty stuff.

5.       There is a change in eating habits. It now hurts to eat. They are avoiding the hard kibble and begging for your softer food.

6.       Cats can develop resorptive lesions on the gums. These are very painful.

There are many ways for you to care for your pets’ teeth. You can practice a healthy dental lifestyle with ease. If your pets’ teeth are in poor condition, you will want to schedule a visit with your veterinarian first. You may choose to have an ultrasonic scaling done and start with a clean slate. An ultrasonic scaling is usually what veterinarians’ refer to as a dental.

 Dental Toys

What makes a toy a dental toy? The design should include ways to massage the gums, strengthen the chewing muscles, remove tartar build-up and clean between the teeth. These would include toys with raised nubs, rope toys and toys designed for power chewers. Keep in mind that you need to buy appropriate sized toys for your pets. Inappropriate sized toys can become a choking hazard.


Always read the ingredient list. Hidden sugars, such as beet pulp, molasses or high fructose corn syrup defeat the purpose of the treat. Bacteria feed on sugar. The purpose of the treat should either create friction to break down the calculus or contains ingredients that do. Examples include Merricks Flossies or Right Bites. The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) has set a standard. Products that have met their criteria carry their seal of approval. You can find information on their standards and approved products on their website: .


While those $12 triple head brushes are good, a toothbrush from the dollar store will do the trick. If your pet allows you access to his mouth, a finger brush would be less intrusive than a toothbrush. A piece of gauze wrapped around your finger will also work.


You need to use pet toothpaste. Toothpaste made for people contains fluoride and detergents which are harmful to your pet. Introduce it to your pet in a gradual, positive manner. Start with something tasty like peanut butter or tuna water. Begin in the rear of the mouth and work your way out. Your pet may be more accepting of the brush leaving the mouth as opposed to entering it. Brush their teeth in the same manner as you do for yourself. Don’t get discouraged if you cannot finish in one sitting. It may take time and patience on your part for your pet to accept it. You should brush their teeth two to three times a week.

Dental Sprays

These contain ingredients that dissolve plaque and tartar when sprayed directly into your pets’ mouth.

Dental Wipes

The active ingredient is Chlorohexidine. Chlorohexidine kills the bacteria that form plaque. Like the gauze wraps, they are less intrusive than a toothbrush.


Many commercial pet foods contain hidden sugars and a high carbohydrate (fillers) ratio. Bacteria feed on these. Read your labels. Your pets’ diet should include a high quality dry food. Dry kibble creates more friction than eating canned. The friction helps to remove tartar.

Raw Bones

Raw bones are natures’ toothbrush. They are easy to find at any supermarket. To emphasize: RAW BONES. Cooked bones will splinter and cause intestinal damage. When your pets gnaw on the bones, it naturally removes plaque and tartar. The bones also provide a good source of available calcium. The marrow contains enzymes, minerals, protein, essential fatty acids, vitamins and bulk to help your pet stay healthy and regular. This is my choice for the dental care of my pets. Their teeth, over the last year, have improved dramatically. Last year, Reno needed a dental done. This year, he does not.


Your pets’ teeth need to last them a lifetime. There are many options to help you practice a healthy dental lifestyle for your pets. It is never too early or too late to start.