Archive for the ‘Breaking News’ Category

What’s Wrong With My Cat’s Mouth?

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Feline premolars 2 resorbtion 352 264Today, I visited my dentist for my six- month check up and cleaning.  It got me thinking about our pets and cats inparticular.  Many cat owners look at the grace, athleticism and beauty of their pets and think that they have the “perfect” animal.  Unfortunately, many of these same cats will have a very “imperfect” mouth, due to a serious and very painful condition that causes teeth to resorb, dissolve and even break!   Here’s what we know about Tooth Resorption in cats.

Ask any cat owner about how they care for their feline’s teeth and most will reply that “he eats dry food” or, more commonly “I really don’t clean her teeth”.  While most veterinarians will acknowledge that brushing a cat’s teeth is a challenge for many owners, they will stress the importance of routine oral assessment of your cat’s mouth.  These exams help find preventable problems and even some very concerning issues.  One of those concerns we are seeing more frequently is called Feline Tooth Resorption.

Tooth Resorption, or “TR” as it is commonly called, is a condition seen in a growing percentage of cats over the age of six years. The same strange condition is also seen in dogs and in people, but it is not nearly as common.

In the past, this disease has been called “neck lesions”, “cervical line lesions” and even the cumbersome “Feline Odontoclastic Resorptive Lesions (FORLs)”.  Whatever the name, we know that this condition is seen in cats who often appear normal.  The process will continue to develop, causing extreme pain because of the exposure of the root canal.  This can even lead to behavior changes and lack of normal appetite.

Dr. Brett Beckman, a noted board-certified veterinary dentist, says that an exact cause for TR has not been determined yet.  Theories about exposure to certain viruses, breed prevalence and chronic inflammation of the mouth and gums have all been proposed as root causes.  According to Beckman, a single study suggests that high levels of Vitamin D in cat foods could be linked to resorptive disease, but that research is still ongoing.  Interestingly, there has even been evidence of TR in cat skeletons that are 800 years old!

Clinically, most cats will appear normal, but observant owners may note that their cat prefers to chew food on just one side or that the cat stops grooming.  They may “toss” dry food into the back of their mouth.   As TR progresses, some pets will even develop sullen or aggressive attitudes, as if they are mad at the world!

Eventually, your veterinarian may point out how some of your cat’s cheek teeth are showing lines of inflamed, fleshy material right near the base of the tooth.  At this point, the erosion has exposed the tooth to the bacteria of the mouth and this is when affected cats become extremely painful.  Even under a general anesthetic, a slight touch of these teeth will cause a cat to “chatter” their jaw, indicating very serious pain!

Dental x-rays are the only way to diagnose TR.  When the radiographs are taken, if TR is present, your veterinarian can see changes in the density of the roots and crowns of the teeth.  All teeth can be affected, but the major “signal” tooth is the first one in the lower jaw.  Some teeth can be partially affected, while others may have completely dissolved away leaving a “ghost image”.

Unfortunately, there is no effective treatment that can save the pet’s teeth.  A normal cleaning and polishing will not work!  Veterinary dentists have even tried root canal therapies (endodonics), but they fail, as this resorption occurs on a microsopic basis.  A tooth that is showing any signs of resorption needs to be extracted.  Some cats will need full mouth extractions.  All cats with a known history of TR should be x-rayed every six months to a year. It is likely other teeth are affected and they must be monitored.

The good news in all of this is that once your veterinarian knows about the disease, several things can be done to keep your cat comfortable.  Experience has shown that cats who were once not eating well or even aggressive will often have a positive behavior change in just a matter of weeks.  It is surprising how the removal of these painful teeth can often bring back your affectionate feline friend.

Owners are often unaware that their pets are experiencing such discomfort.  But, regular visits to your veterinarian can help identify the issue and start work that will make your cat feel better.  Contact your veterinarian to have a comprehensive oral examination for your pet, including dental x-rays and regular dental cleanings.

The GACC Addresses the Recent Parvovirus Outbreak

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Recently there has been a reported and confirmed outbreak of parvovirus in the Fitchburg area.  The announcement indicates the outbreak is affecting northern Berkshire and Worcester County.  The MVMA (Massachusetts Veterinary Medical Association) confirmed this outbreak and indicated their findings and recommendations in the following press release issued June 18, 2013 at 2:09 p.m. to all Massachusetts veterinarians.

PLEASE DO NOT PANIC.  As the release below indicates, if your dog is up-to-date on his/her parvovirus vaccination, there is need for awareness but no need for panic. If your dog has been vaccinated for distemper at GACC, our “distemper” vaccine includes immunization against parvovirus.  Most veterinarians vaccinate with a vaccine containing immunization against parvovirus, but please contact your veterinarian with any questions or concerns.  While no vaccine is guaranteed 100% effective, keeping your pet currently vaccinated and choosing the proper places to socialize or frequent with your pet greatly lowers your pet’s risk of contracting the virus.

We urge all puppy owners whose puppies have not yet completed their distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza, parvovirus, and leptospirosis vaccination series, do not visit areas that potential unvaccinated dogs may frequent until the puppy has received his/her full recommended amount of boosters in the series.

If your pet has been vaccinated for distemper at the GACC, and you are unsure of your pet’s vaccine history, please call us and we will be happy to update you on your pet(s) vaccine status.  If you have further questions about parvovirus after reading this blog or following the links provided, please do not hesitate to call our office or contact Dr. Brian Hurley directly at

Our distemper vaccination is produced by Merck and provides 5 components of protection:  Canine Distemper, (Adenovirus Type 2) Hepatitis, Parvovirus, Parainfluenza and we include Leptospirosis for the 5 way protection.  For more information about Merck’s Parvovirus vaccinate:


(Copied and Pasted Directly from the MVMA Press Release Dated 6/18/13)

For immediate release

BOSTON – Friday, June 14, 2013 – Officials from the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources’ Division of Animal Health would like to alert dog owners of two significant Canine Parvovirus outbreaks affecting northern Berkshire County and Worcester County. Dozens of dogs have been affected in these two areas, and several have died or had to be euthanized due to severe illness caused by the virus. There are effective vaccines available. Puppies generally require a series of vaccinations while adult dogs may need a yearly booster. All of the dogs that have been infected during these outbreaks had either never been vaccinated, or had only received one vaccine. Animal Health Officials are urging dog owners to check with their veterinarian to confirm that their pets are protected.

Parvovirus primarily infects puppies, but any unvaccinated dog remains susceptible. Dogs usually exhibit symptoms of gastrointestinal illness, including vomiting and diarrhea. Although dogs can recover from the disease if it is detected early and treated aggressively, it can be fatal. The virus is typically spread directly from dog to dog, but it can persist in the environment for several months. Dogs that have been infected and recover can remain infectious for several months. Canine Parvovirus does not affect humans and other domestic animals.

DAR’s mission is to ensure the long-term viability of agriculture in Massachusetts. Through its four divisions – Agricultural Conservation & Technical Assistance, Agricultural Markets, Animal Health, and Crop and Pest Services – DAR strives to support, regulate and enhance the rich diversity of the Commonwealth’s agricultural community to promote economically and environmentally sound food safety and animal health measures, and fulfill agriculture’s role in energy conservation and production. For more information, visit DAR’s website at , and/or follow us at and



For Further Information Please Visit: (type “parvovirus” into the search box and click search)

Killer Whale Incident at SeaWorld in Orlando, FL

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

Yesterday, news channels aired the story concerning the unfortunate and tragic event at Sea World in Orlando, FL.  A 40 year old, female trainer was killed by a bull killer whale during a performance.  She was apparently taken off her platform by the whale and shaken to death.  This particular whale has been linked to other deaths according to reports.  There was a student who slipped and fell in the pool with the whale and there was a gatecrasher who tried to swim with the whale, both resulting in death.

In the hours after the trainer’s death, animal rights groups are already blaming organizations like SeaWorld for keeping animals in pools and requiring them to perform.  These killer whales are obviously huge animals, and cannot be forced to perform.  They perform because of the reinforcement they receive for doing so.  Although animal rights groups disapprove of shows like the ones at SeaWorld, there is no doubt that these magnificent animals have helped educate millions of people.  They have even helped to promote a greater concern for their wild cousins.

Dr. Scott Weber at UC Davis shared the following information about killer whales.  The whales are the largest members of the dolphin animals with adult males nearly 6-10 meters in length and weighing up to 10 tons.  The females are slightly smaller averaging 5-7 meters and can weigh over 7 tons.  Their life spans can be similar to humans in the wild.  They are toothed whales which have a wide variety of prey items that may include fish (schooling species, sharks, and rays), invertebrates, sea birds, and other marine mammals including other whales, walrus, sea lions, seals, and sea otters, making them one of the most formidable predators of the sea next to humans.


MSNBC 2010 Report: When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

MSNBC Report:  “When Vets Make Mistakes, Pets Pay the Price.”

Veterinarians are caring, professional people who have dedicated their lives and careers to relieving animal suffering.  As pet owners, we truly understand the power of the human-animal bond.  As you can imagine, I was surprised to read a recent report at that paints a very unflattering picture of veterinary medicine as a whole by depicting a few cases where medical mistakes caused distress to pets and their owners.

While I could spend time dictating statistics and numbers, I realize if the medical mistake occurs in your pet, the statistics are meaningless and your grief understandable.  As veterinarians, we understand the deep grief and pain felt when we our pet is injured or even lost.  We also can empathize with the anger, shock and frustration felt by pet owners.


Insulin Alert Troubles Owners with Diabetic Pets

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

InsulinSocial media exploded when fewer than a dozen pets contracted the novel H1N1 virus.  But, this sensationalism overshadowed a pet health issue with bigger implications.  Concern about a specific insulin product’s effectiveness and a general lack of trusted media information has brought back harsh memories of the pet food recall for thousands of pet owners. 

On Facebook pages and across numerous Twitter accounts, social media users watched anxiously for the next report of the rare cat or dog diagnosed with H1N1.  Sadly, at the same time, tens of thousands of pet owners may have missed vital information about their diabetic animal and the social networks were strangely quiet.

The makers of Vetsulin®, Intervet, along with the FDA, issued a product alert for their insulin after finding batches that did not meet certain stability specifications.  Since this action did not initiate a general recall of the product, the alert message did not attract the attention of traditional media outlets, such as TV news, or even the “new news kid on the block” social media networks.  Some pet owners only found out about the concerns when visiting their veterinarian for follow up visits with their diabetic pet.  Upon learning of the alert, we notified each pet owner using this product by phone to discuss our plan for their pet.


H1N1 Virus and Our Pets

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Yesterday, the AVMA sent out the following alert to the press:

November 4, 2009  A 13-year old cat in Iowa developed signs of a respiratory infection after several people in the household were ill.  Preliminary testing was positive for 2009 H1N1 on October 29, and the results were confirmed on November 2.  This is the first report of a cat infected with H1N1.  The cat has recovered from its illness.

To date, this is the first cat confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus.  Two ferrets, one in Oregon and one in Nebraska, have also recently been confirmed infected with the 2009 H1N1 virus.  The Nebraska ferret died, but the Oregon ferret has recovered.  To date, there is no evidence that the ferrets or the cat passed the virus to people.

The American Veterinary Medical Association and American Association of Feline Practitioners are reminding pet owners that many viruses can pass between people and animals, so this was not an altogether unexpected event. We are advising pet owners to monitor their pets’ health very closely, no matter what type of animal, and visit a veterinarian if there are any signs of illness.

For more information, view the AVMA’s press release on the Iowa case or visit the AVMA’s H1N1 resources Web page.


Canine Influenza (H3N8)

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

On the CBS News website, Dr. Debbie Turner Bell discusses the highly contagious Canine Influenza.  Not all dogs are at risk and we are currently researching the vaccination and the need to vaccinate pets in our area.  The pets that are considered at risk are those from shelters or that go to boarding facilities, day care facilities, groomers and dog shows.  We have no documented cases at this point but felt this video was important to educate you on the flu in dogs.  Stay tuned for further updates.

Watch CBS News Videos Online

Voluntary IVERHART PLUS Recall

Thursday, August 27th, 2009

The Manufacturer of IVERHART PLUS Flavored Chewable Tablets has voluntarily recalled three lots due to subpotent levels of ivermectin in two lots which may not fully protect pets against heartworms and one lot nearing the lower potency limit for ivermectin. No adverse reactions or illnesses have been reported with these products.

Please check any IVERHART PLUS product in your home to see if it contains one of the following lot numbers. If you have the product with one of these lot numbers, please bring it to our hospital as soon as possible for a replacement six-month package of IVERHART PLUS or if you are not a client, be sure to contact your veterinarian. The lot number is listed on the bottom lid/flap of the box in a white text field and on the “blister foil” of the individual doses.

  • IVERHART PLUS Dogs Small Up to 25 lbs., lot #090073
  • IVERHART PLUS Dogs Large 50 to 100 lbs., lot #090093 and lot #090095

No other lots of IVERHART PLUS are affected by this recall.


Boston’s Channel 5 News Story about Fleas and Ticks

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Last night, Team 5 Investigates did a story about adverse reactions to over the counter (OTC) flea and tick “spot-on” treatments. We hear this scenario all the time in practice. An owner walks into a pet store or other merchandise store looking for a product to help protect their pets from fleas and ticks. The concerned pet owner picks a product off the shelf claiming to help. Unfortunately, there is not an expert there to discuss the active ingredients in the product, the correct directions for use, or the potential side effects. The product is applied to the pet and then a reaction occurs. Thankfully, in the news story, the owner’s pet is doing well. However, there is a lesson to be learned from this story and the story released by the EPA last week.


EPA Warns Pet Owners About Flea and Tick Products

Thursday, May 7th, 2009

Pet owners in Gardner and the surrounding communities are thinking about fleas and ticks. In our on-going war against parasites, “spot-on” medications have vanquished billions of blood thirsty fleas. But, along the way thousands of pets have suffered significant, even deadly, adverse reactions. Is this an acceptable trade-off and risk? Should we take these kinds of chances with our pets health?

For more than a decade, pet owners have relied on flea and tick products that claim safe and effective solutions to a persistent problem. Historically, pesticides to control fleas and ticks were harsh and seemingly caused as many problems to the pets as they did to the parasites. With the advent of new topical or “spot-on” products, pet owners breathed a sigh of relief.

But now the EPA has raised a red flag and is warning pet owners about the serious adverse effects seen with the use of these products. Citing a “sharp spike” in reported incidents, the EPA has increased scrutiny and may consider restricting their use.