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"Of all possessions, a friend is the most precious."

- Heradotus

how to brush dog’s teeth, dog dental care, dog dentist, raleigh animal hospital

Brushing your dog’s teeth is an important step in maintaining whole body health for your dog. It’s no secret that the bacteria that build up in your pet’s mouth over time cause more than just bad breath, tartar, gingivitis, and damaged teeth. It is also proven to contribute to heart, liver, and kidney problems over time. All of these potential problems are why the best thing that you can do for your dog to prevent these issues is to learn how to brush your dog’s teeth, and do it often.

When brushing your dog’s teeth, there are a few things to keep in mind to make the experience easier for both of you. The first is to be patient. Most dogs find the experience odd to begin with but will get used to the routine over time as long as you keep the conditions calm and pleasant. Think in terms of positive reinforcement. You want to reward cooperation (or even just mild tolerance!). Do not punish a dog who’s wiggling around and just doesn’t get what’s going on. This can end up creating a negative association. Praise them during brushing, and reward them with a healthy treat after you’re done!

This leads us to the second thing to consider: doggy toothpaste. Many dog toothpastes come in a variety of flavors like beef or peanut butter so that your dog enjoys the toothpaste itself! This can be really beneficial when creating a positive association with a new routine. Unlike human toothpastes, they are safe for your pet to swallow. Never substitute human toothpaste for dog toothpaste. Many human toothpastes include the sweetener xylitol, which is highly toxic to pets.

Next, consider your toothbrush options. We recommend starting out with a finger brush to get both you and the dog used to brushing. A finger brush fits over your index finger and has soft, short bristles on it that you will use to gently brush the teeth and gums. You can also find handled brushes that are similar to what humans use but longer and angled. They can take a little more getting used to for most dogs, though.

How to do the actual brushing? Pull back your dog’s lips so you can see the teeth and gums, and gently brush, working your way around to the other side of the mouth. Pay attention to the crevices between teeth, and don’t forget the teeth at the back of the mouth. Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re able to do a thorough job initially. Any brushing is better than no brushing! This also gives you a good opportunity to keep a check on the condition of your dog’s teeth and gums.

Now that you’re brushing your dog’s teeth, how often should you do it? Well, ideally, daily. You’d be amazed at what a difference your veterinarian is able to tell over time with patients who get their teeth brushed daily. However, if you aren’t able to do it every day, you can still be very beneficial to your dog’s health by just keeping a regular, frequent schedule.

What Happens If You Don’t Brush Your Dog’s Teeth?

how to brush dog’s teeth, dog dental care, dog dentist, raleigh animal hospitalThe ugly truth is that while most dogs need a professional, veterinary dental cleaning at some point in their lives (these require general anesthesia), dogs who never had their teeth brushed are far more likely to need multiple cleanings, to have infections in the mouth, to require tooth extractions, or to develop major organ diseases because of the damage done by bacteria over time.

If you think your pet may already have symptoms of some of these problems, contact your vet for an exam. Also, check out the AVMA’s list of periodontal disease symptoms.

The good news is that it’s never too late to start!

What About Cats?

Cats have the same dental problems that dogs have. Brushing a cat’s teeth can be more challenging, though, as most cat people would rightly guess. Some will tolerate it, others won’t. Feel free to reach out for some tips on keeping your feline’s teeth fresh and clean! We’re cat lovers, too!

Fall allergies feeling like the bane of your existence right now? If dogs and cats could speak English, they’d probably concur. Many pets are just as susceptible to the dreaded pollens and molds of the seasons as we are. They just experience different symptoms, and in some ways, they have it worse than we do. Your eyes may be watery, nose may be runny, and sneezes profuse, but at least you don’t feel the need to chew your toes in public and have ears that smell like a pungent sourdough bread starter to everyone within a certain radius.

The Allergy Culprits: Pollen & Mold

Seasonal allergies are most often associated with pollens and molds that we and our pets are exposed to naturally in our environments. In the fall, these are often different, or just in varying amounts, from the spring. Ragweed is perhaps the top cause of fall allergies because late summer through October is when it is pollinated. And here in North Carolina, where it’s humid most of the time, mold is just a fact of life, especially coming out of the super humid summers and into fall. Pollens and molds are unavoidable to a large extent, but when we know what and when our pets’ triggers are, we can work to reduce exposure to minimize symptoms and treat them when needed to prevent them from becoming serious.

Fall Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms for fall allergies are primarily seen as dermatologic issues in both cats and dogs. Less commonly, we also see watery eyes. Dogs are most likely to suffer from seasonal allergies, but both can experience:

  • itchy skin
  • watery eyes
  • gunky, yeasty ears that may become infected
  • hair loss
  • skin infections
  • itchy, yeasty, or tender paws
  • sores on skin

Treatment Options

dog seasonal allergies, fall allergies, ragweedSome pets have more severe allergies than others, so treatments vary. Some pets will struggle with allergies during the whole season, while others only struggle with the duration of one particular pollen for a shorter period of time. Some may have relatively mild symptoms while others have chronic infections that require antibiotics and a more aggressive strategy. This is why it’s always a good idea to have your pet examined by a veterinarian, then develop a good plan to get through the season.

Each pet is an individual, so their treatments might need to be, too. Antihistamines might be a good choice for many pets to help them get through the season with their allergies well-managed while others need extra help. Particular shampoos can help calm inflamed skin, antibiotics might be required to quickly deal with a painful ear or skin infection. It’s even common for dogs to get yeasty, raw skin between the pads of their feet which might need to be treated with medicated wipes.

Overall, there are several options for your pet’s treatment, and it’s our job to determine the best course of action for good, and safe, results.

Let Us Help!

While we wish that no one had to deal with seasonal allergies, we do feel happy to be able to treat your pets and help them feel better. We enjoy dermatology: the process, the “before and after”, the wags, and the purrs. Call us!

A word of caution:
Please, always consult with your veterinarian before giving your pets any antihistamines. Not all of them are safe for pets, and dosages need to be managed carefully.


Many dog owners know the importance of giving their canine companions heartworm prevention, but relatively few cat owners follow suit. It is a common misconception that cats, especially those that live outdoors, are not at risk for heartworm disease. However, heartworms have been detected in cats in all 50 states.

How Do Cats Get Infected?

In a study done in North Carolina, 28% of the heartworm positive cats were indoor only. It is the mosquito that serves to spread the disease from an infected host, and these tiny insects can easily get indoors. The infected mosquito bites a cat, injecting the heartworm larvae into the skin. From there, the larvae migrate through the muscle to the blood vessels and organs, particularly the lungs. The cat’s immune system reacts to these invaders and may be able to keep the larvae from developing into adults. Even if successful, this immune response in and of itself can result in inflammation of the lung tissue, airways and associated blood vessels. Additionally, even the immature larvae can cause physical blockage of smaller vessels, resulting in damage and dysfunction.

Consequently, any signs of heartworm disease that are noticeable in cats tend to be respiratory in nature, thus the term Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD). Fragments of dying worms can also cause blockage of vessels in any area of the body. Aberrant migration of worms to the brain, eye, or spinal cord may manifest in neurological signs.

How Can I Tell if My Cat is Infected?

Symptoms Associated with HARD include the following:

  • Coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Blindness
  • Collapse
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden death

Can I Get My Cat Tested for HARD?

Due to the immune response of the cat, there may be only one or two larvae that manage to develop into adult worms. This makes it difficult to detect their presence, as commonly available tests work by identifying heartworm antigens in the blood sample. These antigens are proteins produced by the adult female worms. A cat could potentially host multiple adult male worms and would still test negative for heartworms.

There are also antibody tests available, which would detect exposure to heartworms, but they do not determine if there are heartworms currently present in the cat. For instance, a cat that was infected but whose immune system was able to prevent all the larvae from developing would have antibodies present, but no active infection.

How Can I Treat My Cat For Heartworms?

Not only are heartworms in a cat difficult to detect, there is currently no treatment available. The drug that is used to treat heartworms in dogs can be fatal to cats. This makes prevention essential to our feline friends’ health.


So remember: Heartworms in cats cause damage, are difficult to detect, and can be deadly! Please protect your pets with prevention!

Believe it or not, humans aren’t the only species that get stressed out: dogs have anxiety too! But unlike their two-legged companions, they can’t tell a therapist about it. However, their behavior can speak a thousand words if you know how to listen! In this article, a Raleigh, NC vet discusses how to spot separation anxiety in your dog and what you can do about it.


What is Separation Anxiety?

Throughout the day you may have several places to be at once: going to work, running errands, picking the kids up from school, just to name a few. But to your furry friend, you walking out the door means one thing: for an indefinite amount of time, their best friend is gone and that scares them. This is separation anxiety in a nutshell: the distress your dog experiences because you’re not around.

Dog Health Pet Anxiety Raleigh NC

Why Is My Dog Anxious When I’m Gone?

Canines are fundamentally social creatures: in the wild they live in packs, meaning they are rarely alone. So it’s no wonder that even the most domesticated dog will seek out similar companionship. You, your family, and your other pets are your dog’s foster-pack, so it makes sense that being isolated would stress him out!


How Can I Tell If My Dog is Anxious?

As we mentioned earlier, your dog can’t tell you he’s anxious with words. Instead, dogs will often demonstrate their anxiety by acting out while you’re away and, oftentimes, these actions are misinterpreted as bad behavior. Some examples of this could include using the bathroom where he shouldn’t, destroying furniture, or clawing/ biting your personal belongings. He may get into the trash and scatter it around the house. He could finally defeat his arch nemesis–that pretty pillow you just got–strew it’s fluffy innards all over the couch. And if you have a doggy camera setup, you may notice him pacing around, waiting at the door, barking or howling, or even trying to escape.


How Do I Treat Separation Anxiety?

As always, the best place to start with anxiety treatment is to consult a professional– in this case, your local NC vet! They’ll be able to give you advice depending on how (and to what severity) your canine is acting out. Besides consulting your doggy doctor, there are a few simple dos and don’ts for treating anxiety on your own:

Give him plenty to do while you’re gone: boredom may be contributing to his restlessness!

Take him to the bathroom before you leave: maybe he’s anxiously awaiting your return because he needs to “go”!

Don’t talk to him as you walk out the door: you may be alerting him to your impending absence!

Be patient with your pup: it can take some time to “unlearn” his anxious habits!

And lastly, don’t get upset if he acts up: dogs don’t understand that their behavior is bad, so punishing them for it will probably confuse them. Instead, rewarding your dog for being good is the better route to behavior modification.


If you suspect that your pup has separation anxiety, or you simply want to learn more about it, contact us –your Raleigh, NC vet–today!

Many pet owners are not aware that their pets need regular dental care just like people do. They may just consider bad breath to be part of living with a pet. It may be assumed that a normal part of the aging process is for their pet to lose teeth. When you consider that people brush their teeth daily and go to the dentist for cleanings twice a year but dogs and cats may never have any dental care whatsoever, it’s no wonder that they develop bad breath and dental disease. However, it doesn’t have to be this way! In fact, dental care is an important part of a pet’s preventative health care (as well as treatment in cases of dental disease).

The Importance of Pet Dental Hygiene

And while fresh breath and pearly white teeth are pleasant, there are also more important aspects of dental care. Tartar buildup and gingivitis can lead to painful infections of the gums and teeth. This can lead to abscesses and damaged teeth which require extraction. Gum recession can cause otherwise healthy teeth to become loose and fall out.

In addition to affecting the structures of the mouth, dental disease can also lead to infection of internal organs including the heart, liver and kidneys and cause major problems over time. This occurs when infection in the mouth enters the bloodstream and is then spread throughout the body.

Bad Cat Breath kitty dental hygeine

Professional Care vs. At-Home Solutions

Consult A Vet Dentist

So now that you know the importance of dental care for your pet, you may be wondering just what you can do to help. First, let us emphasize that the only way to get rid of tartar build-up is to have your pet come in for a professional cleaning. Attempting to scrape tartar off at home leaves a roughened surface on the enamel of the tooth which actually creates an even better opportunity for more plaque and tartar to form. This scraping also does NOT clean under the gum line (as does the ultrasonic scaler used during a professional cleaning). Not to mention the risk of injuring your pet’s gums if they wiggle or jump at just the wrong time. This is one of those things that you really shouldn’t try at home! However, there are products for home use that can be used as a preventative measure.


Things You Can Try at Home

Regular use of preventative care products will slow the development of dental disease and extend the length of time between needed professional dental procedures. Some of these products include pet toothpaste, CET chews, rinses and Aquadent water additive.


When using toothpaste it is important to use one that is made specifically for pets. Human toothpaste is not meant to be swallowed and I’ve yet to see the dog that has been taught to rinse and spit. It is also most beneficial to select one that is enzymatic, meaning it works without having to physically scrub your pet’s teeth with a brush. All that is needed is to place a small amount on your fingertip and smear it along your pet’s gum line. It helps kill the bacteria that allows plaque formation and causes gingivitis.

Dental Chews

CET chews are coated with the same sort of enzyme as the toothpaste and work in the same manner, except it is your pet’s chewing which gets the product into his mouth where it is needed. Chews for dogs look like rawhides, while chews for cats are small and round and come in fish and poultry flavors. It is important to note that particularly for cats, other “dental “ or “tartar control” treats that rely on the cat chewing a hard, dry kibble may not be as effective. This is because cats have teeth that are designed to hold and tear their food, not to grind, so they often will eat such treats whole or shatter the treat with one crunch.

Mouth Rinses

There are also rinses available that are made to be gently squirted along the gum line and are formulated to cling to your pet’s teeth where the product kills bacteria and keeps plaque from forming.
Another easy option is the Aquadent water additive. You simply add a small amount of concentrate to your pet’s drinking water once a day. As your pet drinks, this acts like a mouthwash and can be particularly good for keeping the gums healthy.

All these products are conveniently available at our office. Our staff will be happy to assist you in selecting the best products to use for your pet and also with any dental health questions you may have. Schedule an appointment today!

As your dog ages, he may need some extra special care to keep him comfortable. After all, he’ll still be your same furry friend, he’s just ready for a little R&R! Besides being a good way to pamper your pup, these solutions also serve a more practical purpose: to make daily routines easier and alleviate the pain that might accompany them. In this article, a Raleigh, NC vet discusses ways you can spoil your canine friend!


Tips for Caring for Your Senior Dog1 | Pet-Conscious Home Improvement

First thing’s first: who doesn’t love a good bed? There are few better ways to make your dog feel instantly more comfortable than upgrading his favorite snoozing spot. And thanks to the enormous variety of beds available on the internet, you and your dog are certainly spoiled for choice!

Speaking of comfort, we’ve all experienced how unpleasant a crick in the neck can be. Neck straining is another issue that you dog may have as he ages, but thankfully, this can be easily remedied by getting him an elevated dish!

Once he’s well into his golden years, you dog may also need help reaching the same places he used you. For example, if climbing onto the bed or couch is giving him trouble, consider investing in a pet ramp! Ramps can eliminate unnecessary muscle and joint strain by providing an gradually inclined path for your pup!


2 | Work Those Muscles

While getting proper, comfortable rest is critical for a senior dog, exercise is just as important. Your canine may not have the same youthful energy he did as a puppy, but even a leisurely walk can do wonders for his health. Please ask your local Raleigh vet for exercise recommendations.


3 | Spa Visits

After a jaunt around the neighborhood, a dog massage might be just what the doctor ordered! Not only are massages relaxing, they can also improve blood flow and alleviate muscle soreness.

If you suspect that your dog has persistently achy muscles or joints, be sure that you are consistently trimming your pet’s nails. Long nails could be affecting his stride and putting unfamiliar strain on this frame. In general, keeping up with your dog’s grooming–including coat treatments and teeth cleaning–is crucial to your canine’s health.


4 | Regular Check-Ups

In addition to grooming needs, make sure that your dog is up-to-date on all vaccinations and is routinely checked for parasites. Regularly scheduled exams will ensure your veterinarian can check in on your pet’s health, as well as provide preventative care.


5 | Love Your Dog

Finally, your dog’s tail may wag a little slower than it used to, but he’s still your furry companion. Be sure to praise him when he’s good, give him his favorite treats, and–as always– shower him with love!

Dog Blog Vet Advice

Would you ever wear a fur coat in the middle of summer? Probably not! Our feline friends, however, don’t have much of a choice in the matter. Summertime can be very dangerous for cats, who can be at serious risk of heat stroke on sweltering days. Panting may help kitties cool off a little, but this isn’t very effective for them. Sweating doesn’t help much either, as cats only sweat through their paw pads. Here are some great tips for keeping your furry pal cool in summer.

Cat health and wellness in Raleigh NC - Falls Village Vet Hospital

1 | Fresh Water

First and foremost, always keep Fluffy’s bowl filled with fresh, clean water. On really hot days, you can drop an ice cube into her water to keep it cooler. If Fluffy is often home alone, consider getting her a water bowl with an automatic dispenser.

2 | Brushing

Brushing Kitty’s fur will remove dead hair and tangles, both of which reduce her fur’s natural insulating properties. Give Fluffy quick grooming sessions every day to help keep her from overheating. Some kitties may enjoy being misted with cool water.

3 | Sleeping Spots

Just like people, kitties instinctively seek out cooler spots to lounge in when it’s hot outside. Make sure your feline pal has access to rooms that have fans or air conditioners. An elevated kitty bed will allow for airflow beneath your sleeping furball, which will help keep her cool.

4 | Playtimes

Our feline friends all benefit from regular exercise, but getting your kitty worked up during the hottest hours of the day can be dangerous. Play with Fluffy in the morning or after dusk. If you walk your cat, avoid taking her out during the hottest part of the day. Toss an ice cube onto the floor for your feline pal to bat around. The cool feeling of ice on hot paw pads may result in feline bliss!

Always monitor your cat for signs of heat stroke. Early symptoms include restlessness, panting, sweaty paws, drool, and unusually heavy grooming. This can be followed by a rapid pulse, vomiting, staggering, and lethargy. If your kitty shows any of these symptoms, contact us right away! Your emergency vet may advise you to take immediate steps to bring Fluffy’s temperature down. Wrapping her in a cool, wet towel, or misting her with cool water in front of a fan, are two things that may help.

All dogs deserve love, but it goes without saying that a pup with poor eyesight needs extra care. Vision problems can occur for a number of reasons: untreated or persistent illness, accidental injuries, or simply because it was an inherited trait. Additionally, old age can take a similar toll on a dog’s eyesight.

Perhaps you’re considering adopting a vision-impaired puppy, or maybe your canine friend has developed a vision problem. Providing the best care may require making a few changes to your home and general routine. In this article, a Raleigh, NC vet hospital offers guidance on how to keep your dog happy and healthy.


Safe Home for Pets Raleigh NC1 | Make Your Home a Safe Space

Regardless of whether you’re bringing home a new puppy or caring for a senior dog, your home should be a haven where they can feel safe and secure. One way to achieve this is to block off unsafe areas of your home. For instance, adding a baby gate at the top of your stairs can prevent your canine from taking a dangerous fall. Also consider restricting access to open water sources: backyard pools, ponds, and streams can be very hazardous for a pet with poor vision!

Another way to improve safety for your pup is to keep floors clear by removing tripping hazards, sharp tools, or otherwise dangerous items.

Lastly, refrain from changing room layouts and furniture. Having a predictable floor plan is critical for a dog with poor vision, and this is made exceptionally difficult when things are drastically changed. If you want to move things, do so slowly, one item at a time so your dog can adjust to the gradual change.


2 | Make Your Presence (and the Presence of Others) Known

If your pet can’t see you well, they’re naturally going to rely more heavily on their hearing. Approach them loudly to let them know you’re present: this will prevent startling them when you pet their head or rub their belly. Likewise, be sure to let visitors know that your dog is vision impaired so that they can be mindful as well.

Similarly, they may have a more difficult time detecting when your other pets are around. Adding bells to your other pets’ collars is an excellent way to help your poor vision pup keep track of their furry companions.


3 | Stay Nearby on Outings

There’s a greater risk to your dog’s safety outside your home or other familiar spaces. Be sure to keep your pet on a shorter-than-normal leash to keep them from wandering where they shouldn’t. And if you have a large yard where you let them out, keep an eye on them as they explore in case they need help navigating back home.


4 | Love Your Dog

Losing –or being born without– one’s vision can be a scary process, so be sure to show your dog plenty of affection. Feeling safe and loved will be a tremendous relief to your furry friend.

If you want to learn more about caring for your senior dog, schedule an appointment with your Raleigh, NC vet today!

What is Chronic Kidney Disease?

Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is the most common disease affecting cats over 7 years of age and is a major cause of suffering and death in senior cats (up to 50% of elderly cats are affected). As cats age, their kidneys begin to lose the ability to function as well as they should. This leads to waste products building up in the blood and a lack of ability to conserve water. The cats become dehydrated despite excessive drinking. The kidneys play a key role in maintaining proper blood pressure, so we often see hypertension in these cats as well.


Signs that may be an indication of CKD include:

  • Weight Loss
  • Drinking and urinating more than usual
  • Loss of appetite
  • Dull, matted coat
  • Sleeping more than normal

cat vet raleigh nc

Most often an increase in drinking and urination is the first change noticed, but unfortunately, many of these signs don’t show until the damage has been done. CKD may also be present despite no obvious signs.

If you believe your cat is showing signs of CKD, contact us –your Raleigh, NC vet– for a diagnostic exam!

Why Do I Need to Clip My Dog’s Nails?

When it comes to nail hygiene, you and your canine friend have more in common than you may realize. Just as overgrown nails can become bothersome for humans, unkempt paws are a pain for pets and can make it hard for them to get traction on smooth surfaces. If you’ve ever played fetch on a hardwood floor then you know what we’re talking about: the Scooby-Doo style running in place, followed by a frantic skid across the room. This slipperiness may cause your pup to adjust their gait, which could lead to poor posture and chronic joint trouble. If their new stride goes unchecked, they could even experience hip dysplasia, arthritis, or other painful conditions in their old age.

If you notice these symptoms when your dog is in hot pursuit of their toy, it may be time for a trim! Here are some helpful tips for giving them a salon-quality “pawdicure.”

Dog toe nail trimming

1 | Teach Your Dog to Be Cooperative

Trimming nails is a team effort, so it’s critical that your furry friend is cooperative. If your dog has never had his nails trimmed –or had a bad experience with it– one way to reduce his anxiety is to get him accustomed to having his paws touched. Teaching him to “Shake” can be a fun and effective solution and can even come in handy when it’s time for a manicure. Just be sure you do this trick for fun as well: otherwise your pup may associate “Gimme Paw” strictly with nail time and shy away from your requests.

Getting your dog used to seeing the clippers can be helpful as well! Simply touch his paw with the trimmers and release (and throw in a treat for good measure)! He will gradually become desensitized to the clippers. Speaking of which…

2 | Get the Right Tools

Investing in a good pair of clippers is another way to make manicure time easier for both you and your canine friend. The clippers you choose should be comfortable and easy to use so you can trim your pup’s nails with confidence. Some modern clippers even have sensors, which tell you precisely where to trim!

3 | Prepare For the Trim

When in doubt, research! Read up on the best clipping methods and make a game plan: for instance, you might start out trimming just the nail tip, then make additional cuts once you’re more comfortable.

Choose a well-lit spot in your home to give you a clear, bright view of your pet’s nails. This will help reduce the risk of overcutting and injuring the quick— the nerve ending on each toe.

And remember: you’re only human. Mistakes happen, so why not prepare for them? Another tool to have handy is a styptic pen or powder, which will help stop the bleeding if you do cut into the quick.

4 | Reward Your Pup

Now that the deed is done, be sure to praise your pup and give him his favorite treat! Not only will he enjoy it, over time he may even associate manicures with rewards, making him even more cooperative during the whole process!

5 | Get Help From the Professionals

If you find that nail trimming makes you uncomfortable, ask your local Raleigh vet for a tutorial! They can show you their preferred method and give you pointers on how to replicate the process at home!

Alternatively, you can even bring your pup in for routine nail trims! Schedule your pet’s mani-pedi with a Raleigh, NC animal hospital today!

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