Full Dental Services
MetroPet has always been dedicated to keeping your pets’ teeth at their best, but we added new equipment in 2013 to make these services even better! Our standard dental cleaning is on par with standard human dentistry (except that it’s done under general anesthesia).
- Digital Dental X-ray: Dental X-ray has helped us diagnose problems with the tooth root problems that we can not see with a normal exam or even visually during a dental cleaning. Prompt removal of these teeth means that your pet gets a more thorough treatment, and their fresh breath will last longer!
- Ultrasonic scaling: A high pitched frequency blasts off the tartar and plaque from your pets’ teeth, allowing us to clean them quickly and efficiently.
- Abrasive Polishing: A spinning cup and abrasive paste polishes the surface of your pets’ teeth and removes some stains and remaining plaque and tartar.
Senior Pet Care
The old rule that one human year is equal to 7 dog years is not exactly true. It’s not a bad rule of thumb, but the actual equivalent age tends to change through the pet’s life. If you take the 1=7 rule at it’s face value, not taking your pet to the vet every year is like you not taking a child to the doctor for 7-10 years. As pets age, they need different care, just like with humans. The best way to keep them healthy for a long life is to have them seen at least every year until they are 6, and then twice a year from 7 on. This ensures that they are examined and screened for any disease that could come up in their lives. Catching a disease early means more options for care, less expense, and most importantly, longer and higher quality life.
Below is a series of Frequently Asked Questions that Vets get from owners about their aging pets.
The following content is made available from the AVMA
A: It varies, but cats and small dogs are generally considered geriatric at the age of 7. Larger breed dogs tend to have shorter life spans and are considered geriatric when they are approximately 6 years of age. Owners tend to want to think of their pet’s age in human terms. While it is not as simple as “1 human year = X cat/dog years”, there are calculations that can help put a pet’s age in human terms:
|Cat Years||Human Years|
|Dog Years||Human Years|
|Large-Very Large: 50-56|
|10||Small-Medium: 56-60||Large-Very Large: 66-78||15||Small-Medium: 76-83||Large-Very Large: 93-115||20||Small-Medium: 96-105||Large-Very Large: 120|
*Small: 0-20 lbs; Medium: 21-50 lbs; Large: 51-90 lbs; Very large: >90 lbs
The oldest recorded age of a cat is 34 years. The oldest recorded age of a dog is 29 years.
A: Geriatric pets can develop many of the same problems seen in older people, such as:
- heart disease
- kidney/urinary tract disease
- liver disease
- joint or bone disease
A: Talk to your veterinarian about how to care for your older pet and be prepared for possible age-related health issues. Senior pets require increased attention, including more frequent visits to the veterinarian, possible changes in diet, and in some cases alterations to their home environment. Here are some basic considerations when caring for older pets:
Older Pet Care Considerations
|Area of Concern||Description|
|Increased veterinary care||Geriatric pets should have semi-annual veterinary visits instead of annual visits so signs of illness or other problems can be detected early and treated. Senior pet exams are similar to those for younger pets, but are more in depth, and may include dental care, possible blood work, and specific checks for physical signs of diseases that are more likely in older pets.|
|Diet and nutrition||Geriatric pets often need foods that are more readily digested, and have different calorie levels and ingredients, and anti-aging nutrients.|
|Weight control||Weight gain in geriatric dogs increases the risk of health problems, whereas weight loss is a bigger concern for geriatric cats.|
|Parasite control||Older pets’ immune systems are not as healthy as those of younger animals; as a result, they can’t fight off diseases or heal as fast as younger pets.|
|Maintaining mobility||As with older people, keeping older pets mobile through appropriate exercise helps keep them healthier and more mobile.|
|Vaccination||Your pet’s vaccination needs may change with age. Talk to your veterinarian about a vaccination program for your geriatric pet.|
|Mental health||Pets can show signs of senility. Stimulating them through interactions can help keep them mentally active. If any changes in your pet’s behavior are noticed, please consult your veterinarian.|
|Environmental considerations||Older pets may need changes in their lifestyle, such as sleeping areas to avoid stairs, more time indoors, etc. Disabled pets have special needs which can be discussed with your veterinarian.|
|Reproductive diseases||Non-neutered/non-spayed geriatric pets are at higher risk of mammary, testicular, and prostate cancers.|
A: Before any medical signs become apparent, behavioral changes can serve as important indicators that something is changing in an older pet, which may be due to medical or other reasons. As your pet’s owner, you serve a critical role in detecting early signs of disease because you interact and care for your pet on a daily basis and are familiar with your pet’s behavior and routines. If your pet is showing any change in behavior or other warning signs of disease, contact your veterinarian and provide them with a list of the changes you have observed in your pet. Sometimes, the changes may seem contradictory – such as an older pet that has symptoms of hearing loss but also seems more sensitive to strange sounds.
- Possible Behavior Changes in Older Pets
- Increased reaction to sounds
- Increased vocalization
- Decreased interaction w/humans
- Increased irritability
- Decreased response to commands
- Increased aggressive/protective behavior
- Increased anxiety
- House soiling
- Decreased self-hygiene/grooming
- Repetitive activity
- Increased wandering
- Change in sleep cycles
A: Possibly. Once any underlying or other disease causes have been ruled out, there is a chance your pet may be experiencing cognitive dysfunction. Studies conducted in the early 1990s were the first to identify brain changes in older dogs that were similar to brain changes seen in humans with Alzheimer’s disease (ie, β-amyloid deposits). Laboratory tests were also developed in the 1990s to detect learning and memory deficits in older dogs. Recently these studies have started on younger dogs in order to fully understand the effect of aging on the canine brain. Similar studies in young and older cats are also ongoing.
While researchers are still not able to identify any genetic cause of why certain animals develop cognitive dysfunction, there are drugs and specific diets available that can help manage cognitive dysfunction in dogs. If you think your pet is becoming senile, discuss it with your veterinarian.
A: The signs you might see will vary with the disease or problem affecting your pet, and some signs can be seen with more than one problem. As the pet’s owner, you can provide your veterinarian with valuable information that can help them determine what is going on with your pet.
Common Warning Signs of Disease in Older Pets
|Kidney disease||Urinary tract disease||Heart disease|
|Decreased appetite||Increased urination/spotting or “accidents” in the house||Coughing||Increased thirst||Straining to urinate||Difficulty breathing|
|Increased urination||Blood in urine||Decreased tolerance of exercise|
|Decreased or no urination>/td>||Weakness||–|
|Poor hair coat||–||Decreased appetite|
A: In pets, the rate of cancer increases with age. Cancer is responsible for approximately half the deaths of pets over 10 years of age. Dogs get cancer at roughly the same rate as humans, while cats tend to have lower rates of cancer. Some cancers, such as breast or testicular cancer, are largely preventable by spaying and neutering. A diagnosis of cancer may be based on x-rays, blood tests, physical appearance of tumors, and other physical signs. The ultimate test for cancer is through confirmation via a biopsy. You can read more in the AVMA’s What you should know about cancer in animals.
Top 10 Common Signs of Cancer in Pets
- Abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow
- Sores that do not heal
- Weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Bleeding or discharge from any body opening
- Offensive mouth odor
- Difficulty eating/swallowing
- Hesitation to exercise/loss of stamina
- Persistent lameness/stiffness
- Difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating
A: First, talk to your veterinarian and have them examine your pet. Your pet might have arthritis. Older pets, especially large dogs, are vulnerable to arthritis and other joint diseases, and the signs you see can vary. This chart provides the basic signs you might see if your pet has arthritis; you might see one or more of these signs in your pet.
Signs of Arthritis in Pets
- Favoring a limb
- Difficulty sitting or standing
- Sleeping more
- Seeming to have stiff or sore joints
- Hesitancy to jump, run or climb stairs
- Weight gain
- Decreased activity or interest in play
- Attitude or behavior changes (including increased irritability)
- Being less alert
Signs of arthritis often are similar to signs of normal aging, so if your pet seems to have any of these symptoms for more than two weeks, the best thing to do is to have your veterinarian examine them, and then advise you as to what treatment plan would be best to help your pet deal with the pain. Arthritis treatments for pets are similar to those for humans, and may include:
- Healthy diet and exercise to help maintain proper weight.
- Working with your veterinarian to find a drug treatment that helps relieve the pain.
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS): the most common treatment for arthritis in dogs. These drugs are similar to ibuprofen, aspirin, and other human pain relievers.
- Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
- Over-the-counter pet treatments, such as pills or food containing either glucosamine and chondroitin sulfate or Omega fatty acids. Both have shown to help relieve the symptoms of arthritis in dogs.
- A veterinarian-prescribed NSAID and an over-the-counter treatment that together may help decrease pain and disease progression.
- Diets with special supplements may also help decrease the discomfort and increase the joint mobility
Do not give human pain medications to your pet without first consulting your veterinarian. Some human products, including over-the-counter medications, can be fatal for pets.
Changes in the home environment may also help you deal with an older pet who is experiencing stiffness and/or pain. Orthopedic beds, stair steps to help an animal up to higher places (so they don’t have to jump), raised feeding platforms, etc. can help make your arthritic pet’s life more comfortable.
A: This can be an incredibly difficult question for both the owner and the veterinarian, and is often a very tough decision to make. Sometimes, euthanasia is obviously the best thing to do for your pet. At other times, however, it can be less clear. An open discussion with your veterinarian, including an honest evaluation of your pet’s quality of life, should help you make the decision.
One way to determine if your aging pet is still enjoying life and can remain with us a little longer is by using a “Quality of Life” scale to determine if the animal’s basic needs are being met. This scale can be very helpful for the veterinarian and pet owner when deciding what is best for your pet. In this scale, pets are scored on a scale of 1 through 10 in each category, with 10 being the highest score for quality of life. Again, only an honest evaluation of each category will help with the decision.
Quality of Life (HHHHHMM Scale)
|0-10||HURT: Adequate pain control (including breathing ability)|
|0-10||HUNGER: Is the pet eating enough? Does the pet require hand-feeding or a feeding tube?|
|0-10||HYDRATION: Is the pet dehydrated? Does it need subcutaneous fluids?|
|0-10||HYGIENE: Pet needs to be brushed and clean, especially after elimination|
|0-10||HAPPINESS: Does the pet express joy/interest? Does it respond to its environment? Does the pet show signs of boredom/loneliness/anxiety/fear?|
|0-10||MOBILITY: Can the pet get up without assistance does the pet want to go for a walk? Is the pet experiencing seizures/stumbling?|
|0-10||MORE GOOD THAN BAD: When bad days start to outnumber good days, the quality of life becomes compromised and euthanasia needs to be considered|
|Total||A total of 35 points is considered acceptable for a quality of life score.|
Digital Full Body X-Ray
In 2013, MetroPet added digital X-ray as well as dental X-ray to our services, and it has brought faster, more accurate diagnostics to our patients.
In addition to faster images and fewer retakes (meaning less exposure for your pets and our staff), the digital X-ray system gives us more diagnostic images with more resolution (meaning we can see more). The result is better medicine for your pet!
We also work with Vet-Rad, a teleradiology service where we can call on board certified radiologists to look at your pets’ X-rays and give us a second opinion within hours rather than mailing films or another trip for you enabling us to treat your pet faster.
Spaying and Neutering
Many pet owners opt to spay or neuter their pets, and spaying and neutering are important for reducing pet overpopulation.
Spay and neuter options
If you decide to spay or neuter your pet, you have options. Discuss the options with your veterinarian so you can make a decision that’s right for you, your family and your pet.
During surgical sterilization, a veterinarian removes certain reproductive organs.
- Ovariohysterectomy, or the typical “spay”: the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus are removed from a female dog. This makes her unable to reproduce and eliminates her heat cycle.
- Hysterectomy: the uterus and part of the fallopian tubes are removed from a female dog. This makes her unable to reproduce, but her ovaries remain and will produce hormones.
- Orchiectomy, or the typical “neuter”: the testes are removed from a male dog. This makes him unable to reproduce and reduces or eliminates male breeding behaviors.
- Vasectomy: only the vas deferens, which conducts sperm from the testes, are removed. This procedure makes the dog unable to reproduce, but his testes remain and will produce hormones.
Why spay or neuter?
Every year, millions of unwanted dogs and cats, including puppies and kittens, are euthanized. The good news is that responsible pet owners can make a difference. By having your dog or cat sterilized, you will do your part to prevent the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens. Spaying and neutering prevent unwanted litters and may reduce many of the behavioral problems associated with the mating instinct.
Spaying eliminates heat cycles and generally reduces the unwanted behaviors that may lead to owner frustration. Neutering male dogs and cats reduces the breeding instinct and can have a calming effect, making them less inclined to roam and more content to stay at home.
Early spaying of female dogs and cats can help protect them from some serious health problems later in life such as uterine infections and breast cancer. Neutering your male pet can also lessen its risk of developing benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate gland) and testicular cancer.
The procedure has no effect on a pet’s intelligence or ability to learn, play, work or hunt. Most pets tend to be better behaved following surgical removal of their ovaries or testes, making them more desirable companions.
Risks of spaying and neutering
While both spaying and neutering are major surgical procedures, they are also the most common surgeries performed by veterinarians on cats and dogs. Like any surgical procedure, sterilization is associated with some anesthetic and surgical risk, but the overall incidence of complications is very low.
Although reproductive hormones cause mating behaviors that may be undesirable for many pet owners, these hormones also affect your pet’s overall health. Removing your pet’s ovaries or testes removes these hormones and can result in increased risk of health problems such as incontinence and obesity.
Before the procedure, your pet is given a thorough physical examination to ensure that it is in good health. General anesthesia is administered to perform the surgery and medications are given to minimize pain. You will be asked to keep your pet calm and quiet for a few days after surgery as the incision begins to heal.
When to spay or neuter
Consult your veterinarian about the most appropriate time to spay or neuter your pet based upon its breed, age and physical condition. Keep in mind that, contrary to popular belief, it may NOT be best to wait until your female dog or cat has gone through its first heat cycle.
The above information was obtained from the AVMA website on 9/27/2014
Declawing and its Alternatives
Declawing has probably become the most controversial of all the elective surgical procedures commonly performed by veterinarians. While it is normal for cats to scratch things (to mark territory as well as to condition their claws) this behavior can destroy the bond between an owner and pet cat. Cats, especially adolescent cats, tend to play rough, scratching their owners or other pets sometimes violently in play. Claws serve to mark territory and assist in communicating territorial messages to other cats though this behavior can be undesirable when it is directed against furniture. The declaw surgery represents a permanent solution to these problems; however, it is popularly held that a number of adverse conditions result from declawing, and that it is a form of mutilation. Pet owners need to sort out the facts from the rumors surrounding this procedure, as well as understanding all of the options involved.
Training: A Non-Surgical way to save the Furniture
Scratching is a natural behavior of cats, which makes it difficult to modify. The usual goal is to transfer the cat’s scratching instinct to a scratching post; it is virtually impossible to control the desire to scratch completely. In general, this kind of training requires a great deal of time at home. Training tips include:
- Cats seem to prefer to scratch upholstery with a vertical drag to the fabric. Furniture can be upholstered in an unacceptable fabric and a scratching post can be swathed in an appropriate fabric (rather than the usual carpet).
- Furniture can be made unacceptable by using plastic or even aluminum foil to cover the target pieces. Spray-on antiperspirants can be sprayed on the furniture as a repellent. Double stick tape can be used on furniture to create an undesirable scratching area.
- Treats or catnip can be used to attract the cat to the scratching post.
- The cat can be punished for furniture scratching attempts but it is important that the cat not connect the punishment with the person administering it (otherwise the cat will simply learn not to scratch while that person is watching). Yelling, spanking, or shaking a can with pennies in it is too directly associated with the person rather than the act of scratching. A water squirt bottle is better but only if the cat does not see where the squirt comes from. Booby traps can be set up using balloons. If mouse traps are used, it is vital that they be turned upside-down so that the cat cannot possibly catch a foot in the trap. Stacked traps can be set up so that they pop upward when tripped, making a surprising noise. In this way, punishment can still be carried out when the owner is not at home.
- The nail caps will wear off but not at the same time. After a couple of weeks some of the nails will be capped and others will not be
- The nail caps must be replaced as the nail grows out
- Some cats are not in the least discouraged from scratching by these caps and are able to simply scratch larger holes in the upholstery
For some cats, simply keeping the nails short is adequate control but many people do not know how to trim their cat’s nails. In fact, the non-pigmented nail of a cat makes it easy to see where not to cut.
This is another popular method of controlling a scratching problem. Blunt acrylic nail caps are glued onto the cat’s claws. The idea is that the blunt nail will not be sharp enough to cause damage. The veterinary staff will place the first set but typically after that the owner has the option of placing the caps at home.
What to Expect / Possible Complications
Myths and Rumors: What People Hear about Declawing
The most important thing in making a claw management decision is making a decision that you are happy with. There are positives and negatives with each procedure.
In 2013, we started noticing that some of our clients have a lot of pets, and not a lot of time to bring them all in. Other clients had trouble getting to MetroPet with their pets, so we decided to bring MetroPet to you!
For a small travel fee, we’ll come to you for regular exams, treatments, laser therapy, blood draws, nail trims, just about anything we can fit in a car!
Dr. Michael Slawienski, DACVS, is a board certified Veterinary Surgical Specialist. He performs our orthopedic surgeries.
Dr. Slawienski is a native of Buffalo, New York. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Science from Cornell University and his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from Iowa State University in 1992. He completed an internship in small animal medicine and surgery at West Los Angeles Animal Hospital and trained as a resident in veterinary surgeon at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. He became a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Surgeons in 1999. Dr. Mike practiced at Associated Veterinary Specialists in St. Louis before moving to Ohio with his family in 2004. He has provided soft tissue, neurologic and orthopedic specialty surgeries for patients of veterinary hospitals in Northeast Ohio and surrounding areas since that time. Dr. Mike is an avid homebrewer and as a BJCP certified judge has judged beer competitions nationally and abroad. Dr. Mike enjoys spending time with his wife and his three wonderful and busy young children. Dr. Slawienski has a sweet one-eyed pug named Boty and a very mischievous cat named Shadow.