What’s the deal with dentals?

February is considered National Pet Dental Health month!

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Everyone loves doggy kisses and kitty nuzzles, but not when they have bad breath. Not all bad breath is a sign of dental disease, however when you find stinky breath, that is the first place the veterinarians will look. Having a yearly exam with your veterinarian is recommended not only for vaccinations and testing, but a thorough physical exam can help detect issues with your pet that can be treated before they cause major health problems.

One of my first things I do on a physical exam is do an oral exam. Dental disease can be treated early before causing gingivitis, gingival recession, and eventual tooth root infections that cause your animal a tremendous amount of pain and can lead to other health issues.

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Dental disease has been linked to heart and kidney diseases in small pets. There are a number of home remedies to help prevent dental disease such as drinking water additives that help keep pet breath breath (google it, there TONS of them like Emmy’s Best Premium Pet Water Additive, Zymox Oratene Drinking Water Additives), denti sticks and greenies, rawhide chews and oral health toys.

While these can certainly help keep tartar from forming on the teeth, the only 100% way to keep your pet’s teeth healthy and clean, is by having regular dentals. Some animals need dentals more frequently than others, but your veterinarian will be able to create a plan that works best for you and your pet. 

Spay Neuter Charlotte is invested in dental health and we believe that regular dental cleanings are part of keeping your pet healthy. Please call us to schedule a dental visit today! You will meet one of our experienced staff veterinarians who will examine your pet thoroughly and devise the best course of action for their overall health, including their dental health.

-Dr. Welch, SNC Medical Director

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Why you should fix your female cat

Spay Neuter Charlotte opened in 2011 with the express purpose of ending the needless euthanasia of healthy, adoptable animals in the Charlotte area. We believe that providing affordable spay neuter services over the last five and a half years has had a significant impact on this issue.  Since opening we have spayed over 15,000 female cats. But according to the recent statistics there are still significant numbers of cats being euthanized annually at the local shelter.  Why?   Because there are too many unwanted litters and not enough adoption.

Think about this.  On average, a female cat goes into heat by 4-6 months of age. From that point on, if she is left unfixed, she can have a litter every 3 months from spring until autumn producing 3 – 5 kittens in each litter.  This season is commonly referred to in the rescue world as “kitten season” because of the number of cat litters born during this time.  Using a conservative estimate that means that one unfixed female cat can produce 2,097,152 kittens in 10 years.  Yes, you read that right: one unfixed female cat can lead to over 2 million cats.  No small wonder that so many cats end up being euthanized at the shelter – it just isn’t possible to keep up with the numbers being produced.  

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Spaying your cat can help reduce the pet overpopulation problem that America and Charlotte experience.

If knowing that by fixing your female cat you can prevent the needless suffering of homeless cats isn’t enough of a reason – spaying your cat also has significant health and behavioral benefits as well. Fixing your female cat reduces her risk of mammary and uterine cancers and life threatening infections called pyometras. If you’ve ever lived with a cat in heat – you know it isn’t fun. Cats in heat will yowl and roam at all hours of the night – with no regard for your sleep schedule – and sometimes will take up “marking.” Marking refers to when a cat will spray urine on objects to leave their smell behind for a potential mate. The reason they do this is because their urine contains pheromones and hormones which can alert other cats that they are in heat.  

The spay procedure is a relatively quick procedure performed in our facilityBefore the spay we shave your cat’s belly to provide a clearer view of the surgical site, and remove all hair and debris that can cause an infection.  This is called a sterile surgical prep. On average it takes one of our experienced spay neuter veterinarians 5-7 minutes to fix a female cat. At Spay Neuter Charlotte we spay cats when they are in heat because we joke if we didn’t, it would be hard to fix any cats at all! We give the cats a mix of drugs called Kitty Magic, to make them sleepy as well as anesthetize and provide long acting pain relief throughout the surgery and post operatively.  The surgery is pretty straightforward: we remove all of the cat’s reproductive organs including the two ovaries, the uterine horns and the uterine body. At the incision site we insert a pain blocker that numbs the surgical site and eliminates most of the post-operative pain immediately following surgery, up to 6 hours. To provide further comfort we also give our feline patients oral post operative pain medication to go home.

After the spay has been completed we put a small green tattoo on the cat’s belly near their surgical site. The fur will grow back making this tiny green tattoo virtually invisible to your eye

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All animals we fix at SNC receive a small, green tattoo as easy, visible proof they’ve been fixed.

Why a tattoo?  It is one of the best ways to prevent an unnecessary surgery. Without the tattoo if your cat gets lost one of the first steps an animal shelter or a responsible pet owner will do is take is to schedule a spay procedure. The green tattoo is a quick way for a veterinarian to tell that the cat is already fixed and does not need to undergo a spay procedure. We have seen a number of cats at Spay Neuter Charlotte that were scheduled for a spay procedure, only for our veterinary surgeons to find that they had a tattoo or a faint spay scar.  Unfortunately, cat spayed at an early age may not have a visible scar, which means on occasion, we have opened up a cat only to discover that the uterus and ovaries was not there.  A tattoo in these cases would have been beneficial and saved the cat from undergoing a needless procedure. 

 

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We recommend that cats that have been fixed spend the night in our clinic to allow the anesthesia to wear off and keep them calm and stress free. By allowing them to stay overnight they get the chance to recover safely supervised by a trained medical staff member which can administer the pain medication, which comes in a syringe, with as little stress as possible. 

When pet owners pick up their female cat the morning after the surgery we will send them home with two more doses of pain medicine  They will have already received a dose the previous night and a dose prior to discharge, administered by our medical staff. By that time your kitty should be walking and acting normally. In case they aren’t, we provide you with an email address – doctor@spayneutercharlotte.org – which puts you in touch with one of our experienced doctors who can answer your questions and provide follow up care. 

It takes 7-10 days for female cats to recover fully. One of the best ways to make sure that her recovery goes smoothly is by putting an e-collar on your cat.

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Your cat won’t love her e-collar but it helps keep her heal after the spay and prevents most post-operative problems!

 

We know that she hates it. We don’t blame her. But it prevents post-op licking which is the leading causes of post-op problems. Just like in humans, when the incision site begins to heal and the skin knits back together, it can itch. The best way that cats know how to deal with this itch, is by licking. While an e-collar isn’t fun, it does make sure that your cat doesn’t have to deal with even worse problems, like an open and infected incision.

Spaying your cat is an easy way to improve the health of your pet, make her easier to live with in your home and reduce cat overpopulation problem.

If you have a friend who isn’t sure whether or not they should get their kitty fixed – share this blog with them!

-Dr. Welch, Medical Director

Spay Neuter Charlotte Annual Update

It has been another hugely successful year for Spay Neuter Charlotte. In 2016 we accomplished 11,752 surgeries, a new clinic record and are edging closer every day to a grant total of 50,000. We touched over 14,000 patients with our weekly wellness services, provided 300 dogs and cats with free pet food and did over 500 free surgeries for Charlotte Mecklenburg Animal Care and Control. Our success is in large part due to the incredible administrative and medical teams in our NoDa and Pineville offices. These are the folks who represent our commitment to exemplary customer and patient care every day. As you might well imagine these aren’t the most glamorous jobs but there isn’t a more qualified and dedicated group in the region. Please note, that I said “the region” and I would go so far as to say, “anywhere.” They are a remarkable collective who I am so proud to call friends and colleagues.

2017 is shaping up to be a transformational year for Spay Neuter Charlotte. We are two weeks away from opening our third clinic in Lake Norman (325 Rolling Hill Road) and I don’t know who is more tickled pink about this expansion – us or the pet owners in the area. We can’t wait to open the door and become trusted friends and partners with the community.

As we prepare to open the Lake Norman Clinic, the renovations are well underway on 32nd Street, which will be the new home of our NoDa clinic. The interior of the building has been gutted and just this week they are beginning the reconstruction process. Our plan is to transform 9,700 square feet into a larger space for spay neuter and for a non-profit veterinary practice to better meet the needs of pet owners in the community.

Of course I would be remiss if I didn’t express my gratitude to our remarkable clients and patients. You are the reason that we do this incredibly gratifying work. We have had 260 individuals make a donation to the “brick by brick” campaign for a total of more than $4,000. You will make it possible for us to purchase a new piece of equipment from our wish list. Thank you!! Stay tuned as we finalize the plans for the permanent wall of paws!!!

-Cary Bernstein, Founder & Executive Director

Here are a few of our favorite photos from the year!

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Rockstar vet assistant Warren posing with a patient!
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We celebrated our 5th birthday in August! 
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Greer Walker employees volunteered their time at the clinic. One thing they helped us with was inserting pins on a map of the Charlotte region so we know where our clients come from.
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Spay Neuter Charlotte founder and executive director poses with a puppy who came in to the clinic to get fixed. Don’t they kind of look like twins? 
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Here is a rendering of what our new NoDa Clinic located on 32nd Street will look like!

Safety Tips for Pets During the Holidays

The holidays can be a very exciting time for families, filled with fun decorations and delicious food. Your pet will love all the smells wafting from the kitchen, as well, but it’s important to remember that much of what is served during the holidays can be harmful to our pets. Most people know about the dangers of their leftover Halloween candy, but did you know that onions and garlic are poisonous to dogs and cats? Another danger found in your kitchen would be turkey bones which dogs are inclined to chew on, but don’t know not to swallow them!

Aside from the food being served, there are some other things you should look out for around the holidays. We love to hang up decorations, such as Christmas trees, tinsel, poinsettias, etc. Poinsettias are actually poisonous to animals, and cats are seen every year at primary vets to remove tinsel from their digestive tracts! It’s something so simple, most people don’t think about it, but it’s important to remember that your pets should be monitored around any new additions to the house!

One last note to remember during the holidays, is no matter how excited you are to host your holiday party, or have your in-laws in town for several days, your house is ultimately your pet’s home as well. They may not be comfortable with the guests you have over, so it’s important to give your pet access to a quiet, calm space to get away from the crowd.

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Make sure your pet feels safe and calm in your home. Their favorite toys can help them feel more at ease with lots of people over.

We hope everyone enjoys their holidays, and keeps their beloved pets in mind, as well!

-Kelly, Pineville Clinic Manager

6 things you must do if a new pet is on your child’s wish list

*Originally featured on MomsCharlotte on Dec 6.

Dr. Elizabeth Welch, Medical Director for Spay Neuter Charlotte, knows that when taken care of properly, a new pet can be great addition to the family during the holidays. But to make the transition easy on parents, children and the pets themselves, she has a few suggestions for anyone with a new puppy, kitten, dog or cat on their list.

1. Have the animal examined by a veterinarian on before giving the children the animal. This ensures the animal is healthy from infectious diseases and free of parasites (intestinal and external) that can be passed on to children.

2. Be sure your new pet is beginning his vaccinations and is on heartworm and flea prevention. New pets should begin their vaccinations as soon as six to eight weeks of age. They should get their regular vaccines at 14-16 weeks of age.

3. If you adopt a dog, set up for obedience training to help them with their behavior.

4. You want them on a well-balanced diet. Your veterinarian can make suggestions as to which food to buy.

5. Always have plenty of toys for your new pet to play with so they leave the socks and shoes of kids alone. These things can become objects that dogs eat and then they get stuck and have to have surgically removed. In addition, during the holiday season be sure to keep up all poinsettias, chocolate, turkey and chicken bones away from dogs and cats, as these are toxic and can cause major illnesses.

6. Have your pet spay or neutered as soon as it’s time. This is best not only to prevent unwanted litters of animals but it’s also beneficial for the long-term health of your pet. Spay Neuter Charlotte recommends pets have their spay/neuter surgery at three pounds or three months. Dr. Welch highly recommends your pet be fixed before six months of age. The earlier the better for the lifetime health of your pet.

Spay Neuter Charlotte has two locations, with the new NoDa clinic opening at the end of December. Their third location, in Lake Norman, is scheduled to open in January 2017. They are currently running a holiday special: $65 for dogs and $35 for cats.

For more information, visit www.spayneutercharlotte.org or call 704.970.2711.

-Dr. Welch, Medical Director