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Tooth or Consequences- Dental care for your pet

You put a lot of thought into keeping your dog healthy: quality food, routine checkups, exercise, and attention. But what about their teeth?  Oral hygiene is an often overlooked but important factor in your dog's overall health.

Dental disease (also known as periodontal disease) is the most common clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats. The good news? All of the problems associated with dental disease are 100% preventable.  By the time they reach three years of age, most dogs and cats have some evidence of periodontal disease.

Signs of oral and dental diseases in dogs and cats:

·         Bad breath.

·         Discolored, loose or fractured teeth

·         Drooling or dropping food from the mouth.

·         Bleeding gums, teeth with dental tartar.

·         Decreased appetite or weight loss.

·         Reluctance to play with toys/chews.

What can you do?

Planning our approach with your pet should begin with a through oral exam. Some pets will require a dental cleaning prior to beginning any preventative care measures. This dental cleaning will resolve potential sources of discomfort due to gingivitis or diseased teeth.  If your pet is not in need of a dental cleaning at this point, then preventative measures will help to keep the teeth clean, gums healthy, and extend the amount of time between dental cleanings.  Dental maintenance does not PREVENT the need for dental cleanings, but simply slows down the accumulation of plaque/tartar accumulation, decreases the severity of periodontal disease, and increases the time frame between dental cleanings.

FIGHT DASTARDLY DENTAL DISEASE AT HOME!  Armed with dental supplies, used alone or in combination you can keep your pets’ teeth and breath fresh and clean.

STEP 1: BRUSHING & TOOTH-PASTES: Brushing your dog’s teeth is the single most effective means to maintain oral health between professional dental care. Plaque is a film of bacteria, food particles, and skin that adheres to the base of the teeth and causes periodontal disease. This film is easily disrupted by the simple mechanical effect of brushing the teeth.  Almost all dogs will eventually accept brushing. The key to success is to be patient and gradual in your approach, brushing mainly the outsides of the “cheek teeth” located under the upper lip. Most experts agree that daily brushing is ideal, but if that's unrealistic, aim for three to four times per week. Don't be an overachiever: If your pup's patience only lasts for you to brush half their teeth today and the other half tomorrow, that's fine. Just remember which half you did each day! Always use pet specific tooth paste, they come in flavors that dogs accept, such as poultry and seafood. Avoid human toothpastes as they contain fluoride, abrasives and high-foaming detergents that should not be swallowed or inhaled by dogs.

STEP 2: CHLORHEXIDINE ORAL RINSE/ ORAVET DENTAL GEL: Chlorhexidine an effective anti-plaque antiseptic. Chlorhexidine binds to the oral tissues and tooth surfaces, and is gradually released into the oral cavity. Some dogs may object to the taste of products containing chlorhexidine while others accept it with no difficulty. The rinse/gel is applied by squirting a small amount inside the cheek on each side of the mouth. The tongue and lips will spread the rinse or gel around the mouth.   OraVet dental gel is applied by our technicians immediately after a dental cleaning, and creates a barrier against bacteria, plaque and tartar accumulation. This lasts for 2 weeks, and is then re-applied weekly along the tooth and gum line for maintenance.

STEP 3: DIETS & CHEWS:  Several “dental diets” have been shown to be of benefit in decreasing dental disease. Some employ a specific kibble design and others include a chemical anti-tartar ingredient. Rawhide products and chew treats can be helpful if chewed daily, and some rawhide chews and biscuits contain an anti-tartar ingredient. Palatability is important – chewing every day is the ideal. We recommend OraVet Dental Hygiene Chews, these chews contain delmopinol, an active ingredient similar to chlorhexidine that works to coat the teeth, tongue and gingiva, this coating functions as a protective barrier against the bacteria that cause bad breath. and they also work to combat plaque formation with mechanical action.  They are safe to use daily, and the palatability is excellent!

- Dr. Mitchell

My Itchy Dog!

I am one of those geeks that loved biochemistry.  To learn about how life operates on a molecular level is nothing short of fascinating to me.  While obviously complicated, what allows us to function and dysfunction can be quite simple when taken down to basic chemical interactions. 

But back to the itch part.  Houston dogs suffer more than most when it comes to itch.  Allergies are not only a human problem.  Ours dogs can also be allergic to, well, anything - pollens, weeds, grasses, molds, dust mites, down feathers, food, you name it.  And then we add our huge flea burden and a host of secondary infections that complicate everything.  To make it worse, allergies are not cured.  No wonder allergies can be so frustrating for the pet and the owner!  That is why we use a multi-treatment approach to manage the symptoms and keep your dog’s coat healthy and comfortable.  Diagnosis can be time intensive and expensive, but once complicating factors are addressed and underlying causes treated, a plan can be put in place to bring long term relief.

Thankfully, the medications available to us have advanced greatly in the last few years.  We are all grateful for oral flea prevention to start, but our options for bringing relief to our itchy canines are ever improving.  So why the biochemistry introduction?  We have been very happy with CADI (Canine Atopic Dermatitis Immunotherapeutic) or CYTOPOINT as part of our therapy regimen.  CYTOPOINT is a new antibody therapy designed to interfere with the itch cycle in dogs (don’t stop reading...!).  The CYTOPOINT antibodies bind to the molecules in the body that are the cause of itching (IL-31).  It literally tricks the body by “plugging in” on the IL-31 molecules, neutralizing them, and prohibiting them from binding to the nerve receptors that lead to itch.  The result?  Partial to complete itch relief in most dogs.  How cool is that?


A few facts:

  • CYTOPOINT is only for dogs (sorry kitties, we are working on it!).
  • CYTOPOINT is for subcutaneous (under the skin) injection here in the office.
  • CYTOPOINT takes effect in 24 hours and usually lasts 4 weeks (variability between dogs).
  • CYTOPOINT can be used safely and combined with other medications.  Reported side effects are minimal.

As stated earlier, allergies are complicated.  Relief is usually achieved through a combination of multiple treatments combined to work together. CYTOPOINT is most appropriate as part of a larger protocol to help control allergies and itch.  It is ideal for dogs with short seasonal allergies or when controlled allergies flare up.  In most cases, we are able to figure out the combination that works best for your dog to maximize comfort, minimize skin flare ups, and stop that itch!  Just ask our office manager, Clayton, about Pixie.  He drank the CYTOPOINT Kool-Aid, for sure.

-Dr. Reid


ALERT: Canine Influenza Now Affecting Texas

This spring, a new strain of Influenza virus was identified in dogs in Chicago and parts of the Midwest. Very recently, the strain was identified in a dog located in the Houston area that came to Texas from Chicago.

This new strain was determined to be an H3N2, different from the canine Influenza strain H3N8, which has been circulating in North America since 2004. This new strain (H3N2) is essentially identical to Asian strains in wide circulation since 2006 within dog populations throughout southern China and South Korea. There is no evidence to date that either of these canine strains can be transmitted to humans.

Classical Influenza symptoms associated with both of the canine Influenza strains are high fever, loss of appetite, coughing, nasal discharge and lethargy. Some dogs may show no symptoms while others may exhibit more severe symptoms with this new strain. Most infected dogs display a mild form with the most common clinical sign being a persistent cough lasting 10-21 days despite treatment with antibiotics and cough suppressants.

There is a vaccine available for the H3N8 strain; however, it is currently unknown if the vaccine will provide protection from the new H3N2 strain. Preventative advice remains the same for the H3N2 (2004) strain: in areas where the virus is active (e.g. Chicago), avoid places where dogs congregate such as dog parks, grooming salons, kennels and daycares.

Incubation of the virus is typically 2-5 days from exposure to the onset of clinical signs. Samples collected as early in the disease process as possible are best for virus detection. Nasal and/or nasopharyngeal swabs should be collected within the first four days of illness and tested for the presence of the virus by molecular methods (PCR). Swabs should be submitted in viral transport media or a sterile container such as a red-top tube either dry or with a drop of saline and shipped overnight with a cold pack. Bacterial culture swabs (i.e. culturette) are not recommended due to inhibitors in the media.

TVMDL offers a broad target Influenza A matrix polymerase chain reaction assay (qPCR), which can detect this new strain as well as the old strain.


  • TESTInfluenza A Matrix (IAV) (qPCR)
  • SPECIMEN: One or more of the following: respiratory swabs (tracheal), 1.0g fresh tissue (trachea, lung), 1-2mL tracheal wash.
  • PRICE: $24 for in-state clients; $36 for out-of-state clients
  • TURNAROUND: Performed in the Amarillo lab Monday through Fridayand the College Station lab Tuesday-Friday, with results in a minimum of 1 day but no more than 4 days.


TVMDL also offers a Canine Respiratory Disease Panel qPCR, which, in addition to detecting Influenza, also detects Canine Adenovirus 2, Canine Coronavirus, Canine Herpesvirus 1, Canine Parainfluenza virus, Canine Distemper, and Bordetella bronchiseptica.

Currently there are no serologic assays available for antibody detection of this new strain (H3N2). According to the Animal Health Diagnostic Center at Cornell University, such assays are under development and should be available soon. 

For more information on canine Influenza virus, visit

View the NBC affiliate story on the Texas CIV case



American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian

Congratulations to our own Dr. Lucy Faulkner, nominated for the 2015 American Humane Association Hero Veterinarian!  

The Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician Awards honor the outstanding doctors and technicians across the country who dedicate their lives to caring for our nation’s animals.

We are currently in the first round of voting by our blue ribbon panel of judges to determine the top five semi-finalists in the Hero Veterinarian and Hero Veterinary Technician categories. The public voting to determine the 2015 American Hero Veterinarian and American Hero Veterinary Technician opens on Wednesday, April 29th at noon Eastern Time and will remain open until noon Eastern Time on July 13th.

With your help we are able to recognize and pay tribute to the heroic doctors who work every day to keep America’s animals healthy and happy!

Robin R. Ganzert, PhD
President and CEO
American Humane Association
16th Street, NW Suite 360
Washington D.C. 20036, USA

For more information about the competition and to vote once the polls open, visit and learn more.

Annual Vet Visits.... What's the Point??

First of all, we like you.  And we really like your dogs and cats.  We want the amazing relationship you have with your pets to be maximized by good health and optimal comfort.  Just as humans require routine doctor visits, so do our pets.  Routine comprehensive exams are the key to preventive health, early diagnosis and treatment.  We are proud of our thorough attention to your pet and our ability to extend quality and quantity of life.  Here are the highlights of an annual exam:

  • History: Listening to you is an important part of the visit.  We want to know your concerns, note pattern changes, pick up on signals and red flags and help keep your relationship as healthy and positive as possible.  We dedicate a minimum of 30 minutes to each exam to ensure we have quality time with you and your pet.
  • Vaccine updates:  We ensure that your pet is up to date on vaccines to prevent contagious and potentially deadly disease.  We follow the most recent research and recommendations on core and non-core vaccines to optimize health without over-vaccinating.
  • Parasite check: By checking fecal and heartworm blood samples, we can diagnose parasites that may not be obvious.  Many of these parasites are zoonotic (contagious to people) and easily transmissible between dogs and cats.  With our population density and shared common areas, this is especially important.  Infections can occur despite routine preventions.
  • Dental Assessment: Evaluation for routine dental home care and need for dental cleanings is important for overall comfort, wellness and longevity.  Even the most dedicated owners tend to avoid brushing their pet’s teeth.  Imagine your mouth without twice daily brushing, flossing and dental cleanings every 6 months!  Bad breath is just one indicator of an underlying problem.
  • Nutrition and Exercise: Obesity is an epidemic in our dog and cat population.  Analyzing body condition scores, assessing weight and muscle mass can help prevent big (no pun intended) problems later and avoid preventable disease.  We will also assess for signs of pain and arthritis that are often overlooked.
  • Skin, Ears & Eyes:  Dogs and cats often have skin, ear and eye disease that can easily go undetected until quite severe.  Using specialized equipment we can see where you cannot (ears and eyes) and pick up on early signs of disease through evaluation of skin and coat health.  This leads to early diagnosis and treatment of disease and development of maintenance protocols to prevent disease.
  • Behavior: Are you happy with your pet’s manners? Bathroom habits?  Are they nice to each other and your friends?  We can help sort out minor frustrations and involve help when needed.
  • Diets, Prescriptions & Preventions:  We cannot safely prescribe these things without a current (within one year) client and patient relationship.  This is logical, in your pets’ best interest, and it’s the law.
  • Lab work:  We like to see normal for all ages, but lab work is especially important for our aging population (over 7 years old).  A minimum of once yearly bloodwork and urinalysis is vital to detecting disease early.  It is much easier and usually less expensive to treat disease early in the process rather than later.  Monitoring of lab work is often a key barometer for long term disease management.

We are blessed with clients that take wonderful care of their pets and consider them an important part of our extended family.  We take our commitment to you and your pets very seriously, and, we do love seeing you!


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