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Summer Newsletter 2019

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It has been a fantastic summer here in Northern Colorado! There have been a lot of questions regarding rabies, blue-green algae, grain free diets, ticks, other parasitic diseases and plague so we thought we would give everyone a brief update on these topics as they pertain to us locally. Our goal is to keep your furry family happy, healthy, and safe!

 

Rabies is in Larimer County

This month a cat tested positive for rabies in the general vicinity of the corner of Mathews Street and East Laurel Street just east of the CSU campus in Fort Collins. There also was one llama found to be positive for rabies in Larimer county this August.  In addition to the cat and llama there have been 8 bats, 39 skunks, and 1 cow that have tested positive in Larimer County so far this year. These rabid animals can be anywhere including people’s homes and garages. Click here to see a current map of positive cases in Larimer county.  Click here for more information on rabies.  Rabies is a fatal, zoonotic (can be transferred from animals to humans) disease that can only be tested after the animal has died. It is extremely important to keep your cats and dogs (indoor and outdoor) current with their rabies vaccine to not only protect them but people as well.

 

Blue-Green algae in Colorado

 

There has also been a lot of talk and some cases of blue-green algae showing up around different parts of Colorado, some of which is toxic and if ingested can be fatal. Make sure you are aware of where you and your pet are walking and swimming. Scan the water for signs of blue-green algae before allowing your pet to play in it. If you are out and about and see some questionable lake or pond water contact the local officials so they can look into it and take proper actions. When in doubt- stay out! Even normal looking water can be contaminated if algae is forming below the surface. Keep your pet from drinking water from lakes and ponds- be sure to carry water with you to keep them hydrated.

 

https://www.coloradoan.com/story/news/2019/07/23/harmful-algae-bloom-shuts-down-popular-colorado-reservoir/1811294001/

https://www.outtherecolorado.com/dog-killing-algae-to-keep-colorado-lake-closed-indefinitely/

 

Grain Free Diets

 

Grain free diets have also been in the news a lot lately. These diets have been linked to heart disease called Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM). Experts are still researching the exact cause but are advising against feeding diets that are “grain free”. Please visit the FDA website  and a veterinarian’s article for more information. If your pet is on a grain free diet please give us a call about transitioning them to a diet that is not grain free.

Along the same line of diets- it is always good to make sure you are current with pet food recalls. Our website contains a link under Pet Health to food recalls that is always accessible. Please click here to be taken to the recall site now.

 

 

Parasites

Pets can pick up and transmit intestinal parasites not only to other pets but also to people. We recommend picking up your pet’s waste when you are out walking them or playing with them in different areas. With BBQs and other outdoor activities more prevalent in the summer it’s extra important to be more vigilant cleaning up the yard also. We have been seeing pets that are positive for roundworms, giardia, hookworms, coccidia, and whipworms. Routine yearly parasite screening is highly recommended as well as testing when your pet has diarrhea. We also recommend year-round heartworm prevention- not only does Heartgard Plus protect your pet against heartworm disease but also is a monthly dewormer against some of the more common intestinal parasites. We have treated 3 heartworm positive dogs already this year. This is an easily preventable disease that is costly and uncomfortable for the pet to treat.

Ticks are another parasite to be aware of in the warmer spring through fall weather. Ticks can carry many diseases. Our recommended yearly heartworm testing is a great time to screen for these tick-borne diseases.  This year we have had several dogs that have tested positive to being exposed to Ehrlichia, Anaplasmosis, and Lyme disease. We recommend using a product like Nexgard, it can be used in addition to the Heartgard Plus to protect against fleas and ticks. There are many different effective products that are available for heartworm, flea and tick prevention. We tailor all medications to each individual patient based on the patient’s lifestyle, breed and history. 

Check out this interactive map to see different parasites in Larimer county.

Plague

There have been multiple cases of plague that are popping up around Colorado as well. Please be sure to keep your pets away from prairie dogs, rabbits and rodents as well as their homes. Since plague is transmitted by fleas, it is important to keep your pets protected from fleas to decrease transmission. Below are some articles about recent cases.

https://www.myvetcandy.com/newsblog/2019/8/19/county-officials-issue-warning-after-plague-confirmed-in-colorado-prairie-dog-colony

https://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/plague-results-in-mass-die-offs-in-weld-county-prairie-dog-colony

 

 

Microchipping

Pets tend to spend more time outside and family members are in and out of the house more often as well. We also take our pets on more outings including vacations, camping, and hiking. With these changes the risk of a pet getting away from you or out of the house and yard increases. Be sure that your pet has been microchipped and that the information is kept updated. Sometimes collars or tags fall off- so the best way to ensure your furry family member makes it back home is to have a microchip implanted. If a microchip was implanted at Mulnix Animal Clinic you can go to the HomeAgain website  to login and update your information at any time. If you are unsure of what company the microchip is registered with you can visit the AAHA microchip lookup site to enter the microchip number. It will give you information on who the chip is enrolled with and their contact information.

 

 

 

We, at Mulnix Animal Clinic, are always wanting the best for you and your pet. Please give us a call with any questions you may have.

Thank you for allowing us to care for your beloved pet(s)!

Home Dental Care For Your Pet

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Does your pet have bad breath? Discolored teeth?  Visible tartar or plaque on the surface of his/her teeth?  Drooling?  Pain? Gingival bleeding?  Note that most dogs and cats have no clinical signs of dental disease.  However chronic dental disease can result in bacteria from the mouth entering the blood stream.  This can result in liver, heart, lung, kidney, and other organ damage.  As much as 80% of dogs and cats over 2 years of age have some form of dental disease. 

Dental disease begins as soft plaque containing bacteria builds up on enamel and between teeth resulting in gingival inflammation.  This also occurs in humans especially after we eat and is why we brush our teeth regularly.  The plaque calcifies to tartar, causing an irregular surface on normally smooth enamel, creating an environment for more plaque to build up and this becomes a vicious cycle.  The buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria reaches under the gumline to the connective tissues (ligament and bone holding the tooth in place) and causes periodontal disease.  This leads to gingivitis, abscesses, tooth loss, and bad breath. 

Good news- this is a preventable disease!  The most effective method involves brushing your pets’ teeth daily.  This will significantly slow the progression of the buildup of tartar, plaque, bacteria and ultimately periodontal disease.  You will need a tooth brush (human soft), a finger brush, or something with a slightly abrasive surface such as a washcloth or gauze square and an enzymatic pet toothpaste.  Most are flavored and can be safely swallowed.  Do not use human toothpastes, most contain foaming agents that should not be swallowed.  Start by using the paste as a treat and getting your pet comfortable with your finger in his/her mouth.  Over time add a brush for 10-30 seconds.  Then brush with the toothpaste and increase time to 30-60 seconds focusing on the outside of the teeth.  It is not necessary to brush the occlusal or inner surface of the teeth, less plaque and tartar build up there.  Offer praise and treats after the brushing.  If a fun routine can be established most pets look forward to brushing and the taste of the paste and the reward after.  Brushing however, does not replace a thorough oral exam under anesthesia to allow subgingival cleaning and pocket charting.  It may however decrease the frequency of these procedures and help maintain a healthy mouth for the life of your beloved furry family friend.  In addition to brushing there are multiple dental treats, toys, supplements, and foods that have been proven to help prevent dental disease.  Please visit the veterinary oral health counsel website (VOHC.org) for approved products and recommendations.  We encourage all pet owners to take an active role in their pet’s dental health. 

 

Leptospirosis: Invading our Water and Soil

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Leptospirosis is a bacterium that is shed from the urine of wildlife mammals. Here in Colorado, we have found dogs becoming exposed more commonly.  These now common bacteria can be deadly to our animals and can be transmitted to humans. Harboring in the soil and water in the environment, it can be contracted directly through the skin, ingestion, or inhalation.

 

General hygiene is the BEST way to keep you, your family, and your animals safe. These bacteria are very sensitive to cleaning products and are easily eradicated with normal hygiene. Leptospirosis can lead to severe kidney and liver failure and can be irreversible in severe cases. The Bacteria can affect animals in two phases. These phases can be seen at different times and do not always happen in the same fashion in every pet. This makes diagnosing leptospirosis difficult. Signs of leptospirosis can be seen as general lethargy, fever, urinating more often, drinking more frequently, as well as other presenting complaints due to organ malfunction. If your pet is exhibiting any of those signs and are often in any outdoor environment, please contact your veterinary office.

If a doctor is suspicious of leptospirosis, there are 3 main ways of testing and diagnosing the bacteria. Serology (blood testing which the serum component of whole blood is used for a reaction with live leptospirosis bacteria), Pathology (testing the direct kidney or liver tissue and looking at them under the microscope), and with a PCR (polymerases change reactions; which is testing the urine and a blood sample together to rule out new or old infections).

If an animal tests positive for having leptospirosis in the blood stream, Antibiotic therapy as well as general supportive care. We want to keep their organs comfortable with IV fluids, GI supplements, or hepatic support so they are not losing nutrients, and the antibiotic to kill the bacteria.

 

http://www.higginsanimalclinic.com/site/epage/100532_332.htm

Puppy Parenting 101: With great power comes great responsibility

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While the addition of a new furry friend to the family is undoubtedly an exciting and momentous occasion, it can also be a bit stressful.  Unfortunately, new puppies do not come with a user manual. However, your local veterinarian can help to provide you with the knowledge to make the right decisions for your family.

Vaccinations:

If you adopted your puppy through an adoption agency or breeder, they may have already started vaccinations on an every other week schedule. But when your puppy arrives at their forever home and is no longer in contact with many other dogs, a different vaccination schedule may be started.

A conventional vaccine booster timeline looks something like this:

8 week appointment – Distemper vaccine, bordetella vaccine

12 week appointment – Distemper vaccine, lepto vaccine

16 week appointment – Distemper vaccine, lepto vaccine, rabies vaccine

Puppies receive antibodies from their mother through her milk. These antibodies do not allow the vaccines to cause the immune response of their own antibody production, so vaccines given at 6-15 weeks of age only last a limited amount of time. At 16 weeks of age, there are no maternal antibodies left in the bloodstream, so vaccines given at this age provide immunity for 1 year. Please discuss the best vaccine booster schedule for your puppy with your veterinarian.

Deworming:

Intestinal parasites such as whipworms, hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms can be tested for in a fecal sample, then specific deworming medications will be given if the sample tests positive. Your puppy will most likely have been given a broad spectrum dewormer at 2-6 weeks of age. At 8 weeks it is a good idea to start on heartworm prevention, some of which are paired with a broad spectrum dewormer. These are typically monthly oral or topical treatments.

Cognitive Dysfunction

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Can you teach an old dog new tricks?

We love it when our dogs live long healthy lives, in fact the worst part of having a dog is that they don’t live forever!  Many changes can happen though as our fur babies approach their senior years.  Some start as subtle behavior changes that eventually become obvious to owners as a significant decline in health and emotional wellbeing.  Cognitive Dysfunction affects most dogs as seniors and is much like Dementia in people. This typically occurs in dogs eight years of age and older, but remember, some giant breed dogs are considered elderly at age five.

Confusion, affected social relationships, changes in activity level, apathy, increased anxiety, compulsive behaviors, restlessness, fear of familiar objects and people, aggression, confusion or disorientation and changes in sleep-wake cycle as well as house soiling and excessive vocalizations are all symptoms of cognitive dysfunction.  Keep in mind some of these things can be related to a medical problem, and should be evaluated by a veterinarian before assuming they are related to Cognitive Dysfunction.

DISHAA is an aide to help owners and veterinarians evaluate the mental sharpness of a dog and breaks up symptoms into categories that owners can place a score next to detailed descriptors. Disorientation, social interactions, sleep/wake cycles, house soiling/learning and memory, activity, and anxiety are the big categories that each have related detailed descriptions.  To use this form to evaluate your dog, access it here.

Treatment includes encouraging these dogs to play during the day, walking them, stimulating their minds, keeping them active (within the limits of what their bodies can handle if arthritis is present), and diet.  Some medications may also be helpful, and can be discussed with your veterinarian. Purina has a special NeuroCare diet that is rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and medium chained triglycerides that help support brain health. So teach those old dogs tricks and engage them in their golden years and maybe you’ll actually gain a few years!

 

Lilies, cats, and renal failure, oh my…..

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Lilies are extremely toxic to cats!  Cats sometimes eat grass, household plants, mice, strings, and many other potentially dangerous things.  Lilies are very common household and landscaping plants.  Maybe you recognize the pictures below as Asiatic lilies (common landscape), day lilies, peace lilies and lily of the valley (actually causes cardiac failure).  They are often found in floral arrangements also.  Most people don’t realize how toxic lilies can be to their beloved cat.  Ingestion of any part of the plant can lead to renal failure and death.  Dogs seem to be fairly resilient to the toxicity of lilies.  Clinical signs include lethargy, hypersalivation, vomit, diarrhea, anorexia, and dehydration.  Prompt treatment can ward off the life threatening problems however.  Treatment includes hospitalization, IV fluid therapy, and other supportive care measures to help control pain, nausea, and appetite stimulation.  Lab work will be run to monitor for other organ changes, electrolytes, and renal function parameters.  Dialysis may also be necessary if greater than 18-24 hours has passed after ingestion, the damage is severe, or IV fluid therapy is not successful.  However, dialysis requires special equipment and is quite expensive.  If you are suspicious of your cat having any exposure to lilies seek immediate veterinary care.  Don’t wait for clinical signs to develop, it just may be too late by then. 

My Cat has a dental cavity (resorptive lesion)?  What now?

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Many cats are prone to dental resorption lesions that may look similar to human cavities.  Unlike humans who develop cavities due to bacteria and acid eating away the enamel, the cause of these resorptive lesions in cats are unknown.  Many cats do not show any clinical signs with early resorptive lesions.  They do progress however, some at a faster rate than others.  As these lesions progress you may note salivation, mouth pain, gingival redness, tooth fractures, deformities or even missing teeth.  Some cats will ‘chatter’ when eating or the area of the lesion is even gently touched.  Monitoring early superficial lesions is acceptable as long as pain is not present with a thorough oral exam, dental cleaning, and radiographs to visualize the depth and extent of the lesion and the root.  Fluoride and restoration/fillings, like what is commonly used in humans, have been unsuccessful in preventing progression of these lesions.  The treatment of choice is extraction of the effected tooth.  Based on the radiographic appearance of the roots (sometimes they will also resorb or become part of the jaw) an extraction is planned.  If the roots are also resorbing, a crown amputation may be the preferred treatment.  This is when only the visible portion of the tooth is removed allowing preservation of the jaw structure.  If only the crown of the tooth is involved and the roots appear intact, a full extraction is recommended.  Your cat’s mouth will be much healthier and less painful in the long run with either a crown amputation or extraction when resorptive lesions are present.  Cats adapt very well to missing teeth and most continue to eat dry kibble with no problems.  Your cat’s mouth is healthier and much less painful when these resorptive lesions are managed appropriately with regular monitoring (physical exams), brushing of the teeth, professional cleanings, and extraction when necessary. 

OUCH – a tooth fracture?  Now what? 

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Even though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, tooth fractures are all too common in dogs and cats.  They may not show any obvious signs of pain or infection and most continue to eat normally.  However, if left untreated they can result in chronic pain, infection, facial swelling/abscess, and tooth loss.  Dogs are more likely to fracture a carnassial tooth (upper fourth premolar or largest tooth in mouth) and cats a carnassial or a canine tooth but any tooth is susceptible.  Chewing on bones, rocks, plastic toys, or cage bars, and direct trauma from fighting, a fall, being hit by a car, and catching objects like frisbees are the most common causes of tooth fractures.  Uncomplicated fractures involve only the enamel and the tooth may or may not become diseased.  Complicated fractures occur when the pulp is exposed to the oral cavity.  This leads to pain and infection.  The exposed pulp chamber is a direct pathway for bacteria to gain access to the bone holding the tooth in place.

 Approximately two thirds of the tooth is under the gumline.  The entire tooth including the root, periodontal ligament, and surrounding bone are evaluated with a dental radiograph (xray).  Based on the findings, treatment options include surgical extraction, pulpotomy (partial root canal with capping) if a fresher lesion, or root canal therapy.  Tooth restoration or fillings are less successful in pets due to their indiscriminate chewing behavior.  The goal is to retain all teeth in the mouth.  Root canal therapy has a 95% success rate when done properly, however sometimes extraction is the best choice.  Extracting a tooth is a surgical procedure and may require splitting multiple roots and placing multiple absorbable sutures.  Most dogs and cats eat normal dry kibble a week or so after an extraction.  It is important to examine your pet’s teeth frequently since they rarely show signs of oral pain.  Any fractured tooth should be examined by your veterinarian, radiographed and treatment options discussed so that chronic pain and infection can be prevented. 

 

Pictures courtesy of DVM360 show fractured canines and carnassial teeth with pulp exposure.

Home dental care for your pet

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Does your pet have bad breath? Discolored teeth?  Visible tartar or plaque on the surface of his/her teeth?  Drooling?  Pain? Gingival bleeding?  Please note that most dogs and cats have no clinical signs of dental disease.  However, chronic dental disease can result in bacteria from the mouth entering the blood stream.  This can result in liver, heart, lung, kidneys, and other organ damage.  As much as 80% of dogs and cats over 2 years of age have some form of dental disease. 

Dental disease begins as soft plaque, that contains bacteria, builds up on enamel and between resulting in gingival inflammation.  This also occurs in humans especially after we eat and is why we brush our teeth regularly.  The plaque calcifies to tartar, causing an irregular surface on a normally smooth enamel, creating an environment for more plaque to build up and this becomes a vicious cycle.  The buildup of plaque, tartar, and bacteria reaches under the gumline to the connective tissues (ligament and bone holding the tooth in place) and causes periodontal disease.  This leads to gingivitis, abscesses, tooth loss, and bad breath. 

This is a preventable disease. The most effective method involves brushing your pet’s teeth daily.  This will significantly slow the progression of the buildup of tartar, plaque, bacteria and ultimately periodontal disease.  You will need a tooth brush (human soft), a finger brush, or something with a slightly abrasive surface such as a washcloth or gauze square and a pet enzymatic pet toothpaste.  Most are flavored and can be safely swallowed.  Do not use human toothpastes, most contain foaming agents that should not be swallowed.  Start by using the paste as a treat and get your pet comfortable with your finger in his/her mouth.  Over time add a brush for 10-30 seconds. Then brush with the toothpaste and increase time to 30-60 seconds focusing on the outside of the teeth.  It is not necessary to brush the occlusal or inner surface of the teeth, generally there is less plaque and tartar build up there.  Offer praise and treats after the brushing.  If a fun routine can be established most pets look forward to brushing and the taste of the paste and the reward after.  Brushing however, does not replace a thorough oral exam under anesthesia to allow subgingival cleaning and pocket charting.  It may however decrease the frequency of these procedures and help maintain a healthy mouth for the life of your beloved furry family member.  In addition to brushing, there are multiple dental treats, toys, supplements, and foods that have been proven to help prevent dental disease.  Please visit the veterinary oral health counsel website (VOHC.com) for approved products and recommendations.  We encourage all pet owners to take an active role in their pet’s dental health. 

Dental Disease in your pet – More common than you think!

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Dental disease is surprisingly common with most pets over 2-3 years of age already having some evidence of periodontal disease.  It starts with soft plaque buildup (brushing teeth helps prevent this step) that hardens to tartar that contains bacteria. The plaque, tartar, and bacteria below the gumline cause significant damage to the jaw bone and structures holding the teeth in place.  This chronic source of inflammation also can damage the kidneys, liver, heart and other organs.  The tartar that is visible can be an indication of the severity of periodontal disease below the gumline.  Periodontal disease is graded on a scale of 0-4:

 Stage 0-  No sign of plaque or calculus

 Normal, healthy teeth. Pink gums and no plaque buildup.  Home dental care is needed to maintain these healthy teeth and gums. Brushing your pet’s teeth regularly is ideal. There are also products available to help make home dental care easier.

CANINE:

Stage 1 Gingivitis

A red line appears at the gum line. While the teeth still appear somewhat healthy, plaque and tartar are beginning to develop and the health of the mouth is beginning to decline. These are reversible changes with home dental care! If no improvement, dental cleaning will be needed to remove current plaque buildup.

Stage 2 Early Periodontitis

Gum tissue around the teeth is red and swollen. Inflammation can progress to an infection. This can lead to discomfort for the pet, and bad breath may become noticeable.  A professional cleaning is recommended at this point. These are reversible changes with treatment!

Stage 3 Established Periodontitis

Unfavorable bacteria are present. Ulcerations, receding gums, root exposure and plaque buildup may be present. Some tooth loss is probable. This condition may be painful. Bad breath is evident. The teeth must be cleaned and a thorough assessment of the periodontal disease is needed immediately. A calculus control diet and home care are needed afterward to prevent recurrence.

Stage 4 Advanced Periodontitis

The mouth is full of bacteria and disease, and some teeth are likely abscessed. Teeth are falling out and the gums are severely inflamed and infected. The roots are infected and exposed. The condition is probably painful. The Heart, Liver, and Kidneys are being affected by blood borne bacteria. Dental cleaning and assessment of periodontal disease is needed immediately. Some teeth may need extraction. Home dental care will be needed afterwards to stop progression of this disease.

        FELINE:

Stage 1 Gingivitis   

Mild plaque present, mild gingivitis with redline at gum margin, no bone loss, reversible changes with home dental care! If no improvement, dental cleaning will be needed to remove current plaque buildup. Is reversible with treatment.

Stage 2 Early Periodontitis

Moderate plaque, tartar covers less than 50% of tooth, moderate gingivitis, possible swollen gums, odor is noticeable. Less than 25% bone loss. A professional cleaning is recommended at this point. These changes are reversible with treatment.

Stage 3 Established Periodontitis

Moderate tartar, tartar covers 50-80% of the tooth, severe gingivitis, greater than 25% bone loss likely, gingival recession, sore mouth. Gums bleed easily. The teeth must be cleaned and a thorough assessment of the periodontal disease is needed immediately. A calculus control diet and home care are needed afterward to prevent recurrence.

 

Stage 4 Advanced Periodontitis

Severe tartar, tartar covers 80-100% of tooth, Severe gingivitis, greater than 50% bone loss with severe recession, loose teeth, and very painful.  Chronic infection is destroying the gums, teeth and supporting bone. The Heart, Liver and Kidneys are being affected by blood borne bacteria, and bone infection and weight loss can be present.  Dental cleaning and assessment of periodontal disease is needed immediately. Some teeth may need extraction. Home dental care will be needed afterwards to stop progression of this disease.

Because the majority of damage caused by periodontal disease is below the gumline, anesthesia is necessary to do a thorough oral exam and cleaning.   Each individual tooth is evaluated for potential pockets between the gum and the tooth root using a probe.  The mouth and teeth are also evaluated for fractures, infections, abnormal tooth wear, root, pulp, or dentin exposure, damage to enamel, tumors, cysts and ulcers.  An ultrasonic scaler is used to clean above (visible enamel with tartar) and more importantly, below the gumline.  X-rays may be taken to evaluate the health of the part of the tooth that is not visible which can be up to 2/3 of some teeth.  The teeth are then polished, and fluoride is applied. 

If further treatment of a tooth is necessary, such as an extraction or packing of a deep pocket with an antibiotic after cleaning to preserve the health of the tooth below the gumline, it can be accomplished while your pet is under anesthesia in most circumstances.

The American Veterinary Dental College does not recommend ‘anesthesia free’ dental cleanings.  These procedures can cause undo stress, result in injury to the tooth and gums, and be painful.  The surface of the tooth may be cleaned with a hand scaler but the more dangerous condition of periodontal disease below the gumline can not be addressed.  Although anesthesia will always have risks, it is safer now than ever before.  The risks are very low and far outweighed by the benefits of maintaining a healthy mouth.  Most pets are up and ready to go back home within a few hours.  Pets cannot brush their teeth like humans can.  This predisposes them to dental disease.  Mulnix Animal Clinic offers free dental consultations to evaluate the stage of periodontal disease your pet has (0-4) and can create a treatment plan tailored to your pet.  This may include a professional dental cleaning treatment plan and/or home dental care to preserve the health of your pet’s teeth.