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  • Pet Dental Care is Important

    Pet Dental Care is Important

    Meat Toothpaste: Dental care can add as much as five years to your pet’s life.
    Chloe, a five-year-old cocker spaniel, has a happy smile—but it wasn’t always that way. When her owner, Brenda, noticed Chloe’s lack of energy and an odor coming from her mouth, she took her to see Dr. Kandra Jones at Mandarin Veterinary Clinic in Jacksonville, Florida. Dr. Jones discovered a severe case of tartar buildup which, through a series of events, turned into a gum infection. The gum infection led to a bone infection, which resulted in tumor-like swelling. Through a combination of laser and traditional surgery, Dr. Jones was able to remove the infected cells, and with a regimen of antibiotics, ensured the infection did not return. Chloe’s mouth has been pronounced healthy and clean, and Brenda agrees. “Chloe’s teeth are in great shape, now. She’s really just a different dog. She has so much energy.” But the surgeries could have been avoided with just a little dental care.

    Dental care is a little known yet absolutely necessary component of caring for your pets. By the age of three, some 80 percent of all dogs and 70 percent of all cats show signs of dental disease, which can lead to the more serious problems of heart, lung, and kidney disease. Fido’s dog breath and Tabby’s tuna breath aren’t something to be ignored—they are probably indicative of an oral problem, and the sooner you have it treated by your veterinarian (and learn to care for it yourself), the sooner you and your pet can smile proudly.

    The stages and faces of oral disease
    Periodontal disease—an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth—takes hold in progressive stages. Plaque and tartar form naturally when food remains in the cracks and crevices of the teeth, especially at the gum line. (Because canned food tends to stick more easily to the surfaces of the teeth, it is somewhat more likely to cause plaque than dry food. But any food will cause problems if the teeth are never cleaned.) At this stage the plaque is still soft, and brushing or chewing hard food and toys can dislodge it. If left to spread, plaque can lead to gingivitis—an inflammation of the gums—causing them to become red and swollen and to bleed easily.

    Plaque soon hardens into tartar that forms a wedge separating the tooth from the gum. At this point plaque can grow below the gum line, causing more damage, and professional cleaning is needed to help manage it. If the plaque and tartar buildup continue unchecked, pus can form at the root of the tooth and the tooth becomes impacted. In the final stages of periodontal disease, the tissues surrounding the tooth are killed, the bony socket holding the tooth in erodes, and the tooth falls out. This is a very painful process for your four-legged friend, but the problems can be averted before they even start.

    Put my fingers where?
    Your veterinarian should perform a dental exam along with a puppy or kitten’s routine booster vaccines at two, three, and four months old, and annually thereafter. In between exams, you are responsible for maintaining your pet’s dental health—but the process is not as scary as it may seem. By starting slowly and gradually introducing your pet to the concept of teeth cleaning, the two of you can even learn to enjoy your sessions together.

    The first step is to determine your pet’s current state of mouth cleanliness (see “Identifying dental disease”). A healthy mouth will have clean, smooth, white teeth surrounded by firm, pink gum tissue. Can’t stand the smell to get close enough to look? You may want to take Tabby to your veterinarian for a thorough cleaning—starting with a clean slate, so to speak, can make your daily cleanings a bit easier.

    Brush-a, brush-a, brush-a
    Try to clean your pet’s teeth and gums once a day, if possible, and preferably after he eats. The most important area to focus on is the gum line, where bacteria and food mix to form plaque. To customize a fearful Fido or timid Tabby to the idea of dental care, start slowly and gradually. Dip a finger into beef bouillon (for Fido) or tuna water (for Tabby), and gently rub along the gums and teeth. Focusing on the gum line, start at the front of the mouth, then move to the back upper and lower teeth and gum areas. Once your pet is okay with a little bit of touching, gradually introduce gauze over your finger, and rub the teeth and gums in a circular fashion.

    When your four-legged friend can handle that, try it with a toothbrush specially designed for pets, or a very soft, ultra-sensitive toothbrush designed for people. Gradually add special dog/cat toothpaste (flavored with meat or fish), but never use people toothpaste or baking soda, as both will upset your pet’s stomach. The entire process should only take a minute or two. If Fido or Tabby continue to resist, try gently wrapping them in a large bath towel with only the head out. Above all, avoid overstraining and keep sessions short and positive. With plenty of praise and reassurance, your dental sessions can bring the two of you closer—a closeness that won’t be marred by the perils of dog breath.

    Cleaning the inside surfaces of the teeth

    1. Place hand over the muzzle from the top
    2. Gently squeeze and push the lips on one side between the back teeth (to keep mouth open)
    3. Pull head back gently so mouth opens
    4. Brush teeth on opposite side
    5. Repeat for other side

    Identifying dental disease (without opening the mouth!)
    If pet jerks away or seems to be in pain, consider having your veterinarian perform the exam.

    1. Select a quiet location
    2. Be gentle and patient
    3. For back teeth on the left: place index finger of left hand on top of muzzle and place left thumb below bottom jaw to prevent him from opening his mouth
    4. Use right thumb and index finger to lift the lips
    5. Pay attention to the large teeth in back where tartar and plaque collect
    6. Try pressing on each tooth, if pet permits, to check for looseness
    7. Move hands to front of mouth; separate upper, lower lips with thumbs and index finger—look for red line where gum joins tooth (an indication of infection, gingivitis, or periodontal disease)
    8. Repeat procedure to examine right back teeth

    Signs of periodontal disease

    • Yellow/brownish colored teeth
    • Swollen, red, bleeding gums
    • Persistent bad breath
    • Loose teeth, loss of teeth
    • Pus between gums and teeth
    • Broken teeth
    • Unusual growth in mouth
    • Reluctance to play with chew toys or drink cold water
    • Yellow-brown crust of tartar at gum line
    • Receded/eroded gums
    • Infected teeth
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Exotic Pet Care

  • Here at Animal Care Centers we see all animals great or small! We have certain Doctors who will see pocket pets, reptiles, and even our avian friends. If you have a small pet that needs medical attention please feel free to call us and we can help you set up an appointment.

Parasite Control

  • There is no subtle way to say this. To you, your pet is a family member. To a parasite, your pet is food. Parasites like fleas, ticks and heartworm-carrying mosquitos can carry numerous diseases that can seriously harm your pet. Here at Animal Care Center we offer a top of the line selection to help take care of these parasites and to keep you and your pet safe!

Nutrition Counseling and Premium Pet Diets

  • Here at Animal Care Center we recognize the importance that nutrition plays in the overall health and happiness of our pets. Nutritional evaluations and recommendations are included as a key component of our preventative health care protocols. We strive to be a valuable resource of nutritional information and advice for our clients. We believe that good nutrition is vital to your pet’s health. There are so many facets to nutrition so we understand how overwhelming it can be when you go pet food shopping. We are here to help you understand nutrition and what works best for your pet.

    Here are some nutritional topics that we can discuss with you during an appointment:

    • Understanding the basics of healthy nutrition and feeding practices
    • Reviewing life-stage nutritional recommendations for your pet
    • Determining the daily recommended caloric intake needs of your pet
    • Reading and understanding pet food labels


    If you have ever caught yourself walking up and down pet food aisles and not knowing what in the world is best suited for your pet’s diet, don’t fret you are not alone! We too have become frustrated by the vast number of pet foods, which are often misleading and confusing due to marketing schemes used to confuse owners. Also we are concerned about the number of pet food recalls that have occurred over the past several years. For this reason we are here to help you decide what diet works best for you and your pet. We can provide food lists that we can recommend to you or we also carry veterinarian prescription diets. Our prescription diets are specifically designed to help support the following aspects of our pets’ health:

    • Oral health/Dental Disease
    • Obesity
    • Diabetes
    • Kidney disease
    • Live disease
    • Feline Hyperthyroidism
    • Gastrointestinal disease
    • Urinary tract disease, including urinary stones
    • Joint Disease
    • Food allergies
    • Skin disease
    • Heart disease

Geriatric Care and Wellness Programs

  • We care for your pet that has been in your family’s life! As our pets age they have special health needs that may require more attention and care then younger pets. We do recommend twice-a-year wellness examinations. These are important in order to detect or treat medical problems that may arise. A baseline senior wellness exam should be performed so it can be used as a benchmark for measuring changes in your pet. This exam includes a complete physical exam, oral and rectal examination and recording of body weight and body condition. Our Dr. also examines your pet’s ears, eyes, and various internal organs. Some laboratory work may be done, including a complete blood count, urinalysis, fecal exam, and perhaps endocrine blood tests and other diagnostic tools used to detect health baselines or issues.

Travel Certificates and Health Certificates

  • Domestic and International Health Certificates (USDA accredited) – Traveling with your pet? No problem…We can help! There are a number of travel regulations and requirements that exist and vary according to different airlines and destinations. Always make sure you do the proper research before your appointment to determine what is necessary for your unique travel needs. And if there is something you are not sure of you can always give a call! We are always here to help!

Microchip/Pet Identification

  • Microchipping can save your pet’s life. 1 out of 3 pets become lost in their lifetime. According to the humane society, only about 15% of lost dogs and 2% of lost cats ever find their way back home. Almost 4 million pets are euthanized each year! This includes lost pets whose owners were not found in time. Microchips are an easy and inexpensive way to ensure your pet doesn’t become a statistic.

In-House Pharmacy

  • Our full In-House Pharmacy allows us to fill our patients’ prescriptions and quickly handle pet emergency needs.

Endocrinology (hormones)

  • Our doctors are dedicated to diagnosing and treating dogs and cats with a variety of endocrine (hormonal) diseases, such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, Addison’s disease and Cushing’s disease. The endocrine system is an intricate arrangement of many hormones and control mechanisms. This complex system can fail in many places. Endocrine disorders are both multitudinous and often difficult to treat. However, our doctors here have seen numerous cases and have proper diagnostic tools to effectively diagnose and treat these disorders. If your dog or cat has an endocrine problem or you believe may have an issue please do not hesitate to call us.

Dermatology & Allergy Services

  • We provide complete medical care for skin conditions including serum allergy testing (QVC) and a full line of veterinary skin care products and diets. Companion animals can suffer from many of the same skin conditions that we do. Whether it be allergies, parasites, or a skin infection, our doctors are able to identify, diagnose and treat a wide variety of skin conditions.

Ophthalmology & Tonometry

  • This is the examination and treatment of conditions of the eye. (Tonometry defines the use of a specialized instrument to measure intraocular pressure which is vital in the detection of Glaucoma in our pets.) Animal Care Centers recognizes the importance of your pet’s eyesight and takes great measures to provide both care and client education.


  • Getting a diagnosis of cancer for your beloved pet can be a very devastating and stressful time. We understand and are here to help both you and your pet. Our highly skilled and experienced doctors are trained to deliver compassionate care using treatment options to help improve the quality and duration of your pet’s life.


  • Animal Care Centers provides comprehensive treatments for conditions of the heart. Through the use of such diagnostic tools as an electrocardiogram (EKG), echocardiogram (scheduled with our participating mobile specialists) and blood pressure monitoring, we are able to accurately diagnose and successfully treat our patients. We also have an in-house pharmacy for cardiac medications.

Laser Therapy

  • We have class IV Laser Therapy which is used to help relieve chronic pain and accelerates your pets healing and rehabilitation time following surgery. Laser Therapy can also be effectively used for on-going treatment of other chronic joint and muscle pains. We have seen positive results in our senior patients and in those who are challenged by arthritis. Read more about Pet Laser Therapy

Pain Management

  • Before, during, and after is our belief here at Animal Care Centers! We believe advanced medical protocols for the relief of acute and chronic patient pain is vital in our field! Not only do we keep our patients pain free during routine or specialized surgery but we also strive to keep our non-surgical patients who have chronic pain as pain alleviated as possible!

Dental Care & Dental Digital Radiology

  • Here at Animal Care Centers we provide complete dental services for your pet which includes full cleaning, polishing and dental radiographs (x-rays). We also provide before and after pictures to each client.

Anesthesia (including Propofol and Isoflurane)

  • We provide complete anesthetic monitoring which includes pulsoximetry, capnometry, blood pressure, EKG, core body temperature, respiration monitors and ventilator. We also provide warm intravenous fluids during surgery.


  • We can send certain diagnostic procedures via telephone or computer. This is a wonderful tool when needing vital tests done as soon as possible. This includes EKGs and Lab Work.


  • Performed in-hospital by a Board Certified Ultrasonographer. Ultrasound plays a dynamic role in determining treatment plans in special cases.

Digital Radiography

  • We have state-of-the-art Direct Digital Radiography allowing for quick and enhanced-image diagnostics.

Patient Care

  • We provide soft bedding, warm IV fluids and therapeutic warm blankets for surgical and medical patients. We also provide our patients with our undivided attention and tender care.

Critical Care and Emergency Services

  • We provide intensive advanced care and treatments for most critical need patients and emergencies. For extreme cases that require highly specialized treatments we can offer stabilizing care until transferred to a specialist. We also have in hospital oxygen cages that are vital in emergency situations.

Full In-House Lab

  • In our laboratory we can run blood work quickly for emergencies or as a routine measure. Blood work that we can run in house includes: complete blood count (CBC) with manual and LaserCyte hematology testing, chemistry profiles, electrolytes, urinalysis, fecal analysis, cytology, heartworm/erhlichia/anaplasma/lyme disease testing, feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus snap tests, and other in house diagnostic snap tests.