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NEWS | Feb. 16, 2011

Veterinary care provided on Joint Base Charleston

By Army Capt. Andrew Schrader, officer in charge Joint Base Charleston Veterinarian Treatment Facility

Dental Health Month isn't just for humans. February is also National Pet Dental Health Month.

Dental disease is one of the most frequent reasons for a visit to the veterinarian and an estimated 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats will be diagnosed with dental disease by three years of age. Pet dental care is more than just keeping Fido's teeth pearly white; significant dental disease can lead to kidney and liver problems and can also result in cardiovascular disease.

Pet owners can take simple steps to maintain the health of their pet's mouth by daily to weekly teeth brushing. There are several products available at the veterinarian's office, but a simple dry tooth brush with a little garlic powder for flavor often works as well. Look inside the pet's mouth for signs of damaged teeth and gingivitis, a disease of the gums which often looks red and inflamed. With moderate to significant dental disease, a thorough dental cleaning performed at the veterinarian's office is often needed to return the mouth to good health.

In addition to pet dental care, general pet health is vitally important. Some animal diseases are more prevalent in South Carolina than in other parts of the country including heartworms. Heartworms are easily prevented with a once-a-month pill; however, one missed treatment can result in a costly procedure to kill the adult heartworms. All pets should be tested for heartworm disease once a year.

Distemper is another disease relatively more prevalent in South Carolina and can cause pneumonia and gastrointestinal disease that is often fatal in dogs.

Cats are also vulnerable to disease if not properly vaccinated. Cats can fall victim to Feline Leukemia virus, a devastating disease. Keeping your pets' vaccines current is the easiest way to prevent these and many other diseases.

The Veterinary Treatment Facility provides the same high quality veterinary care that is expected from civilian clinics and the price is often lower for many services such as spays, neuters, dental cleanings and mass removals. These procedures are treated on an outpatient basis. Spaying and neutering your pet not only decreases the number of unwanted animals, but also lowers or eliminates the risk of many forms of cancer.

Additionally, the VTF has a brand new X-ray machine and other diagnostic equipment such as ultrasound testing, ocular and skin disease tests, EKG and blood pressure testing equipment and the ability to run full blood work panels.

The VTF located at Joint Base Charleston - Air Base (behind the Outdoor Recreation Center) is available to see eligible cats and dogs for their annual wellness exam and vaccinations. Active duty and retired personnel are eligible for service at the VTF. Services are offered by appointment only from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. To schedule an appointment, call 963-1838.