Monday, November 17, 2014

Pain in the Teeth Part 2

Now it was Finnegan’s turn and at first I thought maybe his teeth were not as bad as hers. How wrong I was! Of course he was much worse to bring into the vet, even for just an exam. He screamed bloody murder in the car, and he’s the one with the soft meow! He hissed at the vet and tech panted heavily and wandered the room continuously. He was a good boy for the exam though which showed he had some significant problems. We did the blood work, rabies shot and came home so we could go through this again in a month. Unfortunately, he had a bad reaction to his rabies shot and stopped eating completely. A couple of days later we were back at the vet (NOT FUN) and he had to get a Benadryl and famotadine (Pepcid A/C) shot. This took care of it and as much as I protested, unfortunately we’ll have to go through this again in the future. But this time we have it in his records and he’ll be getting the Benadryl and famotadine BEFORE the vaccine from now on. 

A month later we were back for the dental and thankfully due to his stress level, they were wonderful about making the same accommodations for him as they did for Lacey. All went well but he had two teeth that were already broken and needed to come out, and one lower canine that was rotting from the root that needed extraction. No wonder he was also not behaving as himself.

But we had another problem. When I got him home and gave him his pain medication (buprenex) he began acting terrified of me. Beyond anything I’d ever seen him or any of my pets ever do. He was shaking like crazy, hiding his face in the corner of the room, not eating, etc. It was horrible. I only gave him two doses and felt this was more than the anesthesia after effects. I called the vet the next morning and she told me to stop it immediately which I had. Buprenex is a good pain medication and as I said earlier, Lacey did well on it and so did my late kitty Alex. But it’s also an opiate and in some cases it can cause a pet to hallucinate and that’s what was happening here.

So in the meantime I had to syringe feed him some baby food (no onions or garlic) and my instructions directly from the vet were to give him a one-time only dose of baby aspirin (81 mgs). Aspirin can be toxic to cats so I asked a lot of questions and she assured me this ONE TIME dose would be okay. It did him wonders and within two hours he started eating on his own. It took a full 24 hours for the effects of the pain medication to wear off but he began to come around and was fine. It was an unfortunate incident but there was no way for my vet or myself to know he’d have this reaction. I am the one who prefers Buprenex over Metacam and asked for it but from now on, any procedures he has, he will have to use another pain medication. And again, NEVER give aspirin to your cat without specific instructions from the vet first, EVER. 

As with Lacey, since his dental procedure I am seeing a brand new cat. Playful, loving beyond anything I’ve seen in a long time and doing very, very well. In fact he had been vomiting hair up quite frequently for awhile before his dental. I had them give him a lion cut (shaved him) during the dental since he was already out cold and this has helped tremendously with that issue. But I also suspect that his vomiting had a lot to do with his bad teeth causing him gastrointestinal distress. Inflammation in the teeth and gums can cause stomach upset, which makes perfect sense because inflammation travels elsewhere in the system.  

Here is some more information on dental disease, the cleaning and dental procedures and what to look for:
Although my cats did not have tooth resorption, this is a common condition and very painful. Another good reason to have their teeth checked annually:

The vet wanted me to start brushing their teeth and gave me some CET toothpaste with a tiny finger toothbrush. Unfortunately the CET gave them both diarrhea. I looked up the product and it contains 50% sorbitol which is a gastric irritant. This is why I go on and on about even tiny amounts of certain things. If this can happen to my healthy cats...imagine what ingredients like this can do to a kitty that already has IBD or gastric issues.

There is no reason to put 30-50% sorbitol in a cat product, especially when it clearly can and has caused my cats to get soft poops/near diarrhea and tummy aches. It states right on their product pdf: Sorbitol: Reports of adverse reactions to sorbitol are largely due to its action as an osmotic laxative when ingested orally, which may be exploited therapeutically. I also found this on another site: The only significant concern with sorbitol is that it can promote Irritable Bowel Syndrome or lead to problems in the gastrointestinal system.

That's the last thing I need is another cat with IBD. And although IBS and IBD are two different things, we don’t know the effects it has on a cat’s body versus a human’s body. Either way, it made them both sick. And I tried to find one but I don’t think they make a pet toothpaste without sorbitol in it. I thought about what to do because I am going to have to continue brushing their teeth. So I decided to make my own toothpaste, and this is what I came up with. It may not be the best but to me it’s the safest and works just fine.

Use Amco spoons for measurement:

250 mgs opened capsule of lactoferrin

500 mgs opened capsule of taurine

One scoop of Viralys L-Lysine powder or 500 mgs opened capsule of L-lysine

Largest spoon dose of Petkins Invisible Formula Liquid Oral care solution

2 largest spoon doses of George’s 100% Aloe vera liquid

Teaspoon Beechnut baby food (meat and broth only)
Sprinkles of fresh catnip for taste and mint flavor
Stays fresh in refrigerator for 6-7 days
After brushing give a freeze dried all meat treat as a reward

Unfortunately to buy the tiny toothbrush you’ll need, you have to buy the CET product. But this is the sample paste so it’s not expensive. I personally wouldn’t use the toothpaste but that’s my preference. I wash the little toothbrush with clear dish liquid, no dyes or perfumes. This brush works better than any other, is softer and fits in their mouth perfectly,

For brushing, I sit down on the floor with one of them in between my legs, wrap a towel around the front of them and quickly but gently open their mouth with my fingers. Slide in the toothbrush and very gently scrubbed. It’s hard to get the back teeth, no ways around that. But if you can, those are the worst. Do it quickly for the first week, no need to get the back ones yet. After every brushing, give them a freeze dried, all meat treat. Let them know it’s not all bad.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pain in the Teeth; Part 1

None of my pets have ever needed a dental before; at least not that I know of. But I see now how incredibly important it is to check my pet’s teeth and keep them clean. It all started with what I thought was a cute picture of Lacey yawning. I never took enough pictures of Alex and now she’s gone. So when I adopted Lacey and Finnegan I bought a good camera and have taken probably thousands by now. As you can see her teeth are covered in plaque and tartar and her gums are incredibly red and inflamed.

I knew Lacey’s teeth probably bad, her breath was horrendous. Like something crawled up in there and died. But when I saw this picture on the computer I literally cried. I realized she had to be in a lot of pain and I needed to take care of this for several reasons. Yes, pain is number one. Your pet should never be in pain and because cats hide it so well, it’s your job to know their behaviors. I noticed Lacey slowing down a lot although she was eating fine. I thought it was just her age, but couldn’t understand that as she’s only seven. Two weeks before her dental, I also noticed she didn’t groom as much as she normally did. She did not experience all of these other symptoms but bad teeth and gums can also cause them to paw at their mouths, chew on one side more over the other, bleed from the gums, over groom themselves, become lethargic and develop an infection.

Eventually your pet’s teeth will indeed cause so much pain they will probably stop eating and that’s not something you ever want to happen. A cat can develop hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease) within 48 hours of starvation. I know because my Alex had it and needed to be hospitalized, on an IV drip with antibiotics and fluids to flush out the toxins in her liver. It CAN be fatal so never let your cat get to that point. If your cat has not eaten on its own, or barely picks at their food, looks lethargic, tired, etc. please call the vet immediately and take them in as soon as possible.

There are other very important reasons to make sure they have healthy teeth and gums. Dental disease is just as hard on their health as it is on ours. Toxins can enter the blood stream through the gums and cause problems to vital organs like the heart and kidneys. I take excellent care of my pets and I want them to live a very long, happy and healthy life. This is no different than any other health issue and no less important.

Because I’d never gone through this before, I needed to do some research. So I called around to different animal hospitals and asked a lot of questions. You should know that it IS very expensive. They need to do a full check-up beforehand to make sure your pet has nothing else going on and that they are healthy enough to be put under anesthesia. Pre-op blood work is essential for this and can tell them if their organs are functioning properly, if there is any underlying conditions, infections, etc. They also check for heart disease which is again essential to know before putting them under anesthesia.

If you’re wondering why a pet needs to be put under for a dental cleaning, the answer is simple; a pet is not a human. They are already beyond terrified just going for a vet visit. There’s no way on this earth they’d lie still for someone to go poking inside their mouth and possibly even extracting teeth (which is painful). Under anesthesia the pet can have thorough dental x-rays, a complete scaling and cleaning and again, teeth pulled if necessary. Anesthesia free dental cleaning is growing in popularity but in my opinion is not nearly thorough enough and has some dangers associated with it. Here is an excellent article on why anesthetizing them is necessary:

The procedure itself doesn’t take long; usually no more than 30 to 45 minutes, but the pet must be prepped with sedation and pain medication before surgery. The time it takes for each pet to wake up is different. Lacey woke up very quickly and was tired when she came home but not at all wobbly or in a stupor. Finnegan was a different story. He woke up quickly but took a long time to come out of it once home.

What I did was call around to several veterinary hospitals, including my old vet, to see what they used specifically for anesthesia, pain meds, antibiotics, etc. I asked if they would honor my requests that certain medications not be used, what the entire dental exam and cleaning entailed and I asked for a quote. Since there are four stages of dental disease categorized it’s difficult to give a quote. But usually they will give you a range and quote on the high side the day of the procedure in order to prepare you in case they find extensive tooth and gum disease.

The hospital I ended up choosing was one that a friend had recommended to me some time ago. For all my questions and concerns I had, the vet tech stayed on the phone with me for over 30 minutes and was completely willing to answer anything and everything. They explained everything to me in great detail and because my kitties were new patients (or potential new patients) they offered me a free tour of the entire facility; the exam rooms, surgical area, in house lab, feline recovery area (which was kept in the opposite part of the building from the recovery area for dogs), etc. During the tour they again went over every aspect of the procedure and if I had any questions I could easily ask. I beat them over the head with questions to be honest and it didn’t faze them one bit, they were courteous and extremely helpful.

It just so happened that both my cats needed their rabies vaccinations and as it’s the strict law here in my state I had to make the choice, even though they are indoor only. If they were to bite anyone there, including the vet, the law requires them to be quarantined for 10 days in the pound if they are not vaccinated and I cannot put my cats or myself through that hell. During Lacey’s exam they did her blood work and rabies vaccine (rabies only, nothing else) and examined her teeth. She was surprisingly good about it. But since she’d just had her rabies vaccine that day, we had to schedule her dental for a month out to give her immune system time to rest and recoup. If your pet gets a vaccination of any kind, surgery or any kind of invasive procedure should not be done for at least a month out for that reason.

It also happened that her blood work results showed her liver enzymes were up slightly, which can be a sign of infection. She seemed to be fighting it off on her own so we did not give antibiotics at that time. We kept the schedule and decided to do blood work in house right before the dental and I would wait for the results to make sure they’d gone down. A month went by and the morning of the procedure was a disaster as the waiting room was filled dogs barking loudly and nervously. The good news from her blood work was that her liver enzymes were normal, however she spiked a fever. At the urging of the vet, I left her there for several hours to see if her fever would come down on its own. But it fluctuated. The vet felt it was due to the stress of the dogs and told me to bring her home and see how she does. We had to reschedule the dental for the next week. I was not at all happy, very stressed out myself and began to wonder if I’d made the right choice.

However, the next morning they called me to say they had made a plan that would accommodate Lacey better. We were to go in at 8 am instead of 7 (when the waiting room was full). We would wait in the car and I’d call when we got there and they would wave us directly into the exam room. They’d check her temperature again, and get her into surgery immediately, no waiting; in and out as quickly as possible to alleviate her stress level. This pleased me tremendously and I felt they really cared about my pets and as the vet had said “the goal is to take care of them but put as little stress on them as possible.” And I do know from being at other vet hospitals in the area, no one has separate waiting areas for dogs and cats. But for sure none of the others would have made these accommodations; I’ve been to some of them so I know this.

The day finally came and everything went smoothly and according to plan. Her temp was still slightly up but they felt it was still due to stress and she needed her teeth done badly, so we went ahead with it. In the end, three teeth were pulled and one canine has to be watched as it showed signs of some “potential” issues. She was sent home with amoxicillin (antibiotic) and Buprenex (for pain). She ate some soft food within the hour of being home and did well with her medications. Within a week and a half after surgery I began to see my little girl coming back to life again. No more tooth pain meant feeling good enough to play, groom and act as silly and loving as she used to. I was instructed on how to brush my cat’s teeth and will be discussing this and Finnegan’s dental experience in part 2.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Safe Cleaning for You and Your Pets

I’m on a mission; not only for my cats’ health but for my own. I’m using as many homemade, safe and non toxic items as I can as opposed to chemicals to clean.

I stopped using sprays like Fantastic or 409 for my counter tops and Windex for my mirrors and windows. I now use a 50/50 solution of white distilled vinegar and water and if I need to disinfect something more than that, I use straight hydrogen peroxide. Because of it's acidic nature, vinegar cannot be used on natural stone counters, floors and tiles. I also don't use any dish detergents with phosphates, dyes or fragrances. But vinegar and baking soda is great to use on baked on pots and pans.

Usually I use a stove top cleaner called, Cerama Bryte cook top cleaner for my ceramic flat top stove. It says its eco friendly and biodegradable and it does not contain phosphates. However its main base is citric acid together with some other oil based liquids. I don’t know what those liquids are and citric acid can burn the skin. Seeing as how I don’t know if my cats jump on top of that surface at night when I’m asleep, (I can only imagine they do), I chose to stop using it and tried simple baking soda and vinegar. 

I sprinkled a little bit of baking soda on my stove top and sprayed it with the vinegar and water solution. I then took the same special scrub sponge I normally use with it, made especially for ceramic stove tops and voila! Clean as a whistle! I had to rinse really well though to make sure I got all the baking soda off just to be sure. But it worked like a charm, there’s no residue and it’s now safer for them. 

Next I switched from using Lysol toilet bowl cleaner to adding some baking soda and pouring a bit of straight white vinegar in the bowl. It fizzes and also works to unclog anything stopped up in the drain. I used my regular toilet brush (no chemicals on it) and it worked great! (No my cats don’t drink out of the toilet bowl but I still want to use safer cleaning items for myself).

I then took that same spray bottle with the vinegar and water solution and cleaned the rest of the toilet. For a great disinfectant fill another spray bottle with pure hydrogen peroxide and spray on the toilet seat and wipe. I also used the vinegar/water and baking soda to clean my sink and again, it worked really well; shiny, now safe for kitties to walk on it, and no toxins for me either. I did the same thing for the shower, used the baking soda and vinegar/water solution. And gone is the Scrubbing Bubbles spray bathroom cleaner.

For cleaning my floors, I use a Bissell Steam Mop but will not use the chemical laced cleaner pads that you can buy to go with them. I should have bought a Shark steam mop instead as it has a washable pad that comes with it but after spending $50 on the steam mop and liking the way it works, I’m keeping it. So instead I use some thick Swiffer dry pads and fill the tank with another 50/50 solution of vinegar and water. Even works well on my laminate hardwood floors. Apparently though vinegar should never be used on natural stone of any kind whether it's the floor, counter tops or bathroom. Here is a great alternative to vinegar:

Next is the furniture. Furniture polish contains petroleum distillates, which are highly flammable and can cause skin and lung cancer. They contain nitrobenzene, which is easily absorbed through the skin and extremely toxic. Since cats absorb everything through their skin very easily and lick it off, this was bothering me a great deal. I researched for days and found something about coconut oil. I tried it but it smears and doesn’t absorb into the wood. Then I found a recipe, non toxic, easy to make and shines like the dickens! I went the extra step and used organic apple cider vinegar and olive oil. Be aware that the organic ACV smells much stronger than regular but the smell does fade. Please do not use any fragrances, natural or not, as things like citrus of any kind and essential oils are toxic to cats. If you can, dust and polish when you’re able to open some windows for a few minutes to air the place out. Otherwise, just wait it out, the smell fades.
Mix 1/4 cup of apple cider vinegar with 2 tsp. of olive oil. The vinegar removes dirt from furniture and the olive oil shines without greasing. This homemade polish is safe for homes with kids and pets, and it's gentle enough to be used on most any surface that needs polishing. As you can see, my wood looks amazing! In fact, it hasn’t shined like this since I bought it years ago.
I no longer have carpets anywhere in my house but I did find these instructions and I know these ingredients are safe. Again, follow only the pet stain formula and don’t use any fragrances or essential oils:
Basic Pet Stain Formula

Try this on stains that have already set. Caution: test first on a hidden area
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
to be sure the peroxide won't change the color of the carpet.
Note: You may be tempted to use a scrub brush for this treatment, but you risk splitting the carpet fibers if you work it too vigorously.

Baking Soda
White Vinegar
Liquid glycerin soap (or dish soap)
Hydrogen Peroxide
Mix equal parts of vinegar and water, and work the mixture well into the stain using a clean white towel. Blot well, and let dry. Once the area is dry, sprinkle baking soda generously over the spot. Mix together 1/4 cup peroxide with 1/2 tsp liquid soap then pour the soap mixture over the baking soda to dissolve it into the nap of the carpet. Work the paste down deep into the fibers. Blot again, and let dry. Vacuum to remove the residue. You may have to repeat this treatment on persistent stains. 
Last year we started using straight white vinegar as bug repellent around the house and yard. I couldn’t believe how well it works. You have to reapply it every so often, maybe once every couple of weeks to a month, but it does the job and you don’t have to worry about fumes or anything. We had these awful red bugs infesting our tree in the yard. They took over and multiplied like nothing I’ve ever seen in my life. One year they were swarming the house and coming in everywhere. They don’t bite or anything but were an awful nuisance. I got desperate and sprayed chemicals on that tree for three straight years but it didn’t work that well and I hated handling that stuff. I decided last year to try the vinegar and I couldn’t believe how well it worked. I just dumped half a gallon jug of straight white vinegar on the tree and they were completely gone, the tree was fine.
I also take a spray bottle and go around the foundation on a nice day to get rid of anything like ants, crickets, etc. trying to get in. You can even spray it indoors as well, especially if you get ants in the kitchen area.
Vinegar is simply amazing and although it's not the greatest smell there is, the smell does wears off fast and I am very pleased with how well it cleans and how safe it is. My advice if you want to go green, get yourself a couple of gallon jugs of white distilled vinegar, apple cider vinegar and olive oil. The uses are endless.