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January 2018


By Nutrition No Comments


By-products provide valuable nutrients for your pet:

  • AAFCO* defines by-products as suitable for animal food; they are the clean internal organs including liver, lungs, heart, as well as cartilage, bone, and muscle tissues
  • By-products are a valuable source of energy, vitamins, and minerals for your pet
  • Quality by-products are safe and used by pet food companies that follow strict guidelines and standards

Grains provide valuable nutrients for your pet:

  • Grains such as corn and wheat are excellent sources of quality protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber
  • Many grains are more digestible sources of protein than meat
  • There is no evidence to support claims that grains cause health problems excluding the rare dog with a true allergy [1]
  • Many “grain free” diets substitute with potato or tapioca (for the grains), which contribute fewer nutrients than grains [1]

Wheat gluten provides a valuable source of protein for your pet:

  • Wheat gluten is more than 80% protein, 99% digestible, and has an amino acid profile similar to other proteins (meat)

Chicken meal is an excellent source of protein for your pet:

  • Chicken meal is dehydrated and defatted chicken and provides a very digestible source of concentrated protein

Flax does NOT contain Omega-3 fatty acids for your pet:

  • Most veterinary research supporting benefits of omega-3 fatty acids; including benefits in dermatitis, arthritis pain, kidney inflammation, and heart disease [2], have been done evaluating EPA and DHA (found only in certain marine plants and fish)
  • Flax requires conversion by your pet to achieve EPA and DHA, a conversion which is “uniformly poor” [1]

Food allergies – not all pet foods are created equally:

  • Food elimination trials are the only way to diagnose food allergies in dogs
  • One recent study showed that none of the over the counter (venison) diets tested were suitable for an elimination trial since they all were tainted with common pet food proteins[3]
  • Your veterinarian is the most reliable source for accurate information and management of your pet’s health


  • Is a description of process (under which plants/animals are grown/raised) and does not refer to quality of the raw material
  • No official rules govern labeling of organic pet foods but they must comply with USDA National Organic Program regulations
  • There is no scientific data to back up the “claim” that organic is healthier for pets
  • Organic diets frequently use flax seed as a source of fatty acids. Flax seed does NOT contain EPA/DHA


  • FDA does not advocate a raw meat, poultry, or seafood diet for pets
  • There are no published, peer-reviewed articles supporting health “claims” for raw diets
  • Published reports exist of gastroenteritis and death in animals eating contaminated raw meat foods


  • Solely from plant, animal, or mined sources not having produced by or subject to, a chemically synthetic process; exceptions include: artificially synthesized vitamins, minerals, or other trace nutrients
  • All Royal Canin diets contain ingredients (meat, cereals, fats) of natural origin

Human-grade & Holistic

  • Not defined by AFFCO and therefore cannot be accurately used to describe pet food




*American Association of Feed Control Officials establishes ingredient definitions and uniform guidelines as to what is appropriate for animal feeds.
[1] Heinze, C.R., Pet Food 102: Myths and Misconceptions. Central Veterinary Conference, 2011
[2] Kirk, Claudia, NAVC Proceedings, The Use of Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, January 2011, www.ivis.orgKirk, Claudia, NAVC Proceedings, The Use of Long Chain Omega-3 Fatty Acids in Inflammatory Bowel Disease, January 2011, Heinze, C.R., Pet Food 102: Myths and Misconceptions. Central Veterinary Conference, 2011
[3] Raditic, D, 2011 ELISA Testing for Common Food Antigens in Dry Dog Foods Used in Dietary Elimination Trial, MSPCA Angell Animal Medical Center, Boston, MA. Association of American Feed Control Officials. In: Noel RJ ed. Official Publication, 2011. Stone GG, et al. Application of polymerase chain reaction for the correlation of Salmonella serovars recovered from greyhound feces with their diet. Journal of Veterinary Diagnostics and Investigation 5:378-385, 1993. Shaw M, et al. Streptococcus zooepidemicus in small carnivorous mammals fed uncooked horsemeat. Journal of Zoo Animal Medicine 15:161-164, 1984
©ROYAL CANIN SAS 2011. All Rights Reserved


By Uncategorized No Comments

Spotlight On Dentistry: Can’t you just scrape that off his teeth?
February is Pet Dental Health Month and at Veterinary General we feel dental health is crucial to the overall health of your pet. Volumes of books can and have been written on dentistry but in this entry we are going to look at each step in the cleaning process and explain why they are important. Since advanced periodontal disease and treatment is beyond the scope of this article we will only look at the cleaning details of a patient undergoing a “Stage 1” (see Initial Evaluation below) dental cleaning.
Dental care is quickly evolving in veterinary medicine and old recommendations are being discarded in light of research. It is not uncommon to get questions about dental radiographs, pre-anesthetic blood work, home care, and why those items are even important in a younger dog with mild tartar. Cost is another concern, and we often have clients compare costs from previous pets or other practices. Through education we hope to share the value of the complete dental prophylaxis and show how it is not just simply “cleaning the teeth.”

Initial Evaluation
The dental therapy process begins with an oral examination of the pet. The veterinarian or veterinary technician will stage a pet’s teeth based upon amount of tartar and gum irritation visible. This visual inspection allows us to create and plan and estimated cost for the procedure. Pets with more severe periodontal disease require more advance treatments and are discussed on an individual basis.
Dental disease is “staged” from one through four, with four being most severe. Stage one dental disease is marked by halitosis (bad breath), mild calculus (tartar) build up, inflamed and red gum line. In stage two there is more calculus build up, the gum line will appear shiny, and swollen. Stage three is marked by swelling and recession of the gum line that may bleed with gentle probing. Stage four is identified by severe inflammation, pain, gum recession, bleeding, and purulent (pus) discharge. These are simply the visible signs, a more accurate assessment is made when dental radiographs and charting are completed (VetMed Team).

Blood Work and Anesthesia
Pre-anesthetic blood work is required for all patients receiving a dental cleaning. The liver and kidneys are responsible for converting drugs into a form the body can use then removing them from the body. If the liver and kidneys are not functioning properly the anesthetic protocol can be altered or the procedure aborted. Dental disease can cause changes in the rest of the body and blood work will help us identify any potential problems.
During anesthesia the patient is monitored by a licensed veterinary technician at all times. Monitoring includes heart rate, respiratory rate, temperature, percent of oxygen in the blood, and blood pressure. All patients have IV catheters placed, receive IV fluids during the procedure, and have endotracheal tubes placed in their trachea. IV fluids help maintain blood pressure during anesthesia and allow for injections to be given if needed. Endotracheal tubes have a small balloon on the end that can be inflated to prevent fluid from entering the lungs.

Dental Radiographs
The veterinary technician begins the dental process with radiographs. Radiographs are key component between a complete dental prophylaxis and just cleaning the teeth. Cleaning and observing abnormalities above the gum line ignores 60% of the tooth (Iams Partners for Health, 2003). Radiographs allow the veterinarian to evaluate the root of a tooth, bone loss around the root, and pockets (spaces between the gum and tooth root). If caries (cavities in people) is seen on the surface of the tooth a radiograph will allow the veterinarian to assess how far the lesion affects the tooth. After extractions an x-ray is often taking to make sure the entire root of a tooth has been extracted. Radiographs can also reveal roots of baby teeth that did not fall out, and adult teeth that never erupted through the gum line.

The first step with charting is a second oral exam. This allows the veterinary technician to note any abnormalities that were not observable on the patient while awake. Pictures are taken for both the patient’s records and the pet’s owners. The veterinary technician then begins to chart the oral cavity. They insert an instrument, called a probe, gently between the tooth and gums. A small depth is acceptable and requires no treatment however; bigger “pockets” need attention and indicate periodontal disease. The technician will also note any missing, fractured, discolored, or loose teeth.
Charting and dental radiographs are the foundation of the veterinarian’s treatment plan (VetMed Team). A treatment plan will include a diagnosis, recommendations for treatment (including extractions if needed), prognosis, and home care plan.

Dental Cleaning, Polishing, and Fluoride Treatment
Cleaning begins by removing large pieces of tartar by hand scaling both above and below the gum line. Ultrasonic scaling will be used to remove any material that was left behind. Once again the mouth is visibly inspected for any remaining tartar, and a probe is run over the tooth to “feel” for any irregularities caused by tartar left on the tooth (VetMed Team).
After scaling is complete the teeth are then polished. Scaling can create micro abrasions on the tooth’s surface. If these abrasions are not smoothed out, they will provide a foothold for plaque and tartar formation. Finally the mouth is rinsed with water, to flush out any debris, and air dried. A fluoride treatment is applied to the teeth to strengthen the enamel.

Home Care
The true definition of prophylaxis is “the prevention of disease or control of its possible spread (Farlex).” A dental cleaning is a treatment of a disease process, whereas true prophylaxis is done at home. Home therapy is targeted at removing or lowering the amount of bacteria in the mouth. If home care is not instituted by three months after a dental cleaning then gingivitis scores are equivalent to those recorded prior to dental cleaning (Gorrel, 2004).

Brushing teeth is the gold standard for at home dental care; however, there are many options available. Products range from traditional tooth paste and tooth brush, to toys, treats, chews, wipes, and sprays. This allows us to design the home care plan that fits your pet’s needs and your lifestyle as well. Home care is a large subject matter and will be the focus of a later blog.

True dental prophylaxis encompasses both the professional dental cleaning under anesthesia coupled with home care. Dental cleanings that are incomplete or focus on the visible tooth anatomy can regress quickly. To answer my opening question; No, we cannot just simply scrape that off his teeth.

Works Cited
Farlex. (n.d.). The Free Dictionary. Retrieved February 1, 2013, from
Gorrel, C. (2004). Veterinary Denistry for the General Practitioner. Edinburgh, London, NY, Oxford, Philadelphia,St. Louis, Sydney, Toronoto: Saunders.
Iams Partners for Health. (2003). Spotlight on Dentistry: More than meets the eye.
VetMed Team. (n.d.). Companion Animal Denistry 101. Retrieved January 20, 2013, from
VetMed Team. (n.d.). Companion Animal Dentistry 102. Retrieved January 20, 2013, from