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Periodontal Disease in Pets

Plaque covered teeth, bad breath, bleeding gums and pain on eating hard food are commonly seen in older pets and are signs of periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease involves the buildup of plaque and calculus on teeth, which serves as a breeding ground for zillions of bacteria. The animal mounts an immune response to all these bacteria and the byproduct of this immune response is that the dog starts destroying its own gums, leading to rotting teeth sitting in rotting gums.

Periodontal disease may seem like something to expect and ignore in older pets but that is not the case.  It can cause all sorts of secondary problems; tooth abscesses, jaw bone infections, chronic respiratory infections and has even been implicated in heart and liver disease. Cats especially, stop eating when their teeth are sore, leading to severe loss of weight and secondary liver disease issues.

Ideally one should brush pets’ teeth regularly or apply special oral rinses that inhibit plaque, provide dental chews or dental diets that prevent the proliferation of plaque. However, if you notice a lot of plaque on your pet’s teeth better to treat early by bringing into us for a dental scale and polish; where we break off all the rotten calculus and polish the teeth clean. If the gums have already started to be eaten away and the teeth are loose, we will probably have to pull these teeth out.

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Dont Support Irresponsible Breeding

Responsible breeders will vaccinate their puppies at 6 weeks and they will only be adoptable at 8 or 9 weeks. Irresponsible breeders will try and save costs, and make more money from their puppies by not vaccinating them and sending them off to their new homes as soon as possible (at 6 weeks).

What this means for you as an owner is that you will be buying an unvaccinated puppy, with no defenses against terrible diseases like parvo (katgriep) and distemper virus. Even if you take the puppy to be vaccinated as soon as you take him/her home, it takes a week or two for an immunity to develop after a vaccination, leaving a susceptible ‘window’ period where a puppy can contract disease.

We have seen too many little puppies die of parvovirus because the breeders were too irresponsible to vaccinate them. Please, as an owner don’t fall into this trap.

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High Activity v Low Activity Breeds

People have a perception that the smaller their property the smaller the dog they should have. To a certain extent this is true, one would definitely not recommend that someone living in a small complex should ever get a Rhodesian Ridgeback or a Labrador, however amongst all breeds there are dogs with high activity versus low activity needs.

For example, a Jack Russell Terrier is a small breed that is not suited to live on a very small property, or indoors. Jack Russells have very high activity needs as a breed, and not having enough exercise will result in these dogs developing all sorts of behavioral problems, ranging from destructive behavior to aggression. Other small breeds which are high activity include most of the terriers; Foxies, Parsons and Border Terriers included.

Small dogs with lower activity needs include Yorkies, Maltese Poodles, Bichon Frise, Miniature Daschunds and Pekingnese. Don’t forget that these dogs also need to be walked and exercised but to a lesser extent than their high activity counterparts.

Some of the highest activity breeds regardless of size include; Border Collies, German and English Pointers, Belgian Shephards, Australian Shepherds, Australian Cattle Dogs, Spaniels, Dalmations,  Weimaraners and Airedale Terriers.

It would be a very bad idea to get any of these dogs unless one can put the intensive time and energy into training and exercising them.


high activity v low activity

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Dogs Can Sniff Out Human Diseases

We all know that dogs have an amazing sense of smell, and we have utilized this fact for many years in tracking and drug detection. Dogs smell in parts per trillion, to illustrate this to you, if you put a drop of blood in 3 Olympic-sized swimming pools; a dog would smell this blood.

Recent studies have shown that dogs can be trained to sniff out cancers of the lung, breast, skin, bladder and prostate. In a 2011 study, lung cancer was identified with a sensitivity of 71% and a specificity of 93%.[1]In another study 66 patients referred to a urologist were selected, 33 confirmed with prostatic cancer and 33 controls. Belgian Malinois Shepherd Dogs picked 30 of the 33 positives correctly. [2]

Other amazing medical applications of dogs’ sense of smell include their increasing use as service animals for people with diabetes, where they can detect fluctuations in blood sugar (dangerous for diabetic patients) and alert them even before they feel symptoms.

Apparently dogs have also been documented to detect epileptic seizures 45 minutes before they occur. Scientists still have no idea how this occurs.

1. Ehmann R, Boedeker E, Friedrich U, et al. (August 2011). “Canine scent detection in the diagnosis of lung cancer: Revisiting a puzzling phenomenon”. Eur Respir J 39 (3): 669–76. doi:10.1183/09031936.00051711. PMID 21852337.
2. Cornu JN, Cancel-Tassin G, Ondet V, Giardet C, Cussenot O (2010). Olfactory detection of prostate cancer by dogs sniffing urine: a step forward in early diagnosis. Eur Urol. 2011 Feb;59(2):197-201. doi: 10.1016/j.eururo.2010

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Why We Ask You Not to Feed your Dog Bones (and remove any other dangerous ingestible objects from your pet’s reach)

This afternoon Dr Keri removed a corn cob that was lodged in a very sick dog’s intestines. More common objects we have to remove surgically from dog’s intestines include bones (especially ones that are small enough to swallow; such as vertebrae – skaap en beesnek- and chicken bones) as well as small toys strings, and stones.
The blocked object causes the blood supply in the affected segment of intestine to be compromised, and if not removed, these dogs will die from dehydration and sepsis due to infection and toxin release into the dog’s body from the dying gut wall. If a dog is presented to us showing the symptoms of a foreign body intestinal obstruction, we can sometimes actually feel the object in the abdomen, but often we need to take x-rays to try and visualize the object to differentiate an obstruction from more common causes of vomiting.
A pet insurance company in the US called VPI, received 2000 claims in 2010 of foreign body ingestion in dogs. Most commonly isolated were bones, stones, sticks, towels and rocks but here is a list of more unusual items that vets removed from dog’s intestines during that year. (From
• jellyfish
• glue
• estrogen patch/make-up brush
• tube of denture adhesive
• dead poisoned vole
• bikini
• ink pen
• plastic nose from teddy bear
• magnetic purse clasps
• baseball
• glass Christmas ornament
• hearing aid
• bed sheet
• box of pencils
• popsicle stick
• avocado pit
• dental floss
• coffee filter/coffee grounds
• fishhook
• pain relief tablet/B.B. pellet/highlighter
• tent door
• toy squeaker
• watch
• 16 steel wool pads
• pseudoephedrine/sponge/snail poison/tampon
• 20 cherry pits
• light bulb
• barbecue brush
• Frisbee
• jumper cables
• razor blades
• uncooked rice (1 pound)
• wallpaper paste
• squirrel
• balloon ribbons
• bird (whole)
• butter/sand
• deer antler (partial)
• extension cord
• leash/3 sticks of butter
• pin cushion
• portion of wool rug
• tobacco
• TV remote control
• 10 quarters/one penny/one Canadian coin/three arcade tokens
• foot-long submarine sandwich
• fire log
• wooden toy train
• pine cone
• round chew bone (whole)
• caulk
• eye glasses
• money (paper)
• oil-soaked dirt
• sand
• rosary crucifix
• 25 to 30 soiled diapers
• bath bubble mix
• bathtub cleaner/outdoor plants
• duck bone
Recommended chewable objects for dogs include rawhide chews, Kongs© and strong large bones; such as lamb shank bones, ostrich leg bones and cow leg bones.

Figure 1 A dog called Gordon who ate 16 rocks and underwent a 2 hour surgery.

Figure 1 A dog called Gordon who ate 16 rocks and underwent a 2 hour surgery.


Figure 2 lead catch in dog's intestines

Figure 2 lead catch in dog’s intestines

Figure 3 A corn cob lodged in a dog's small intestine


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