Ask the Vet?

Got a question about your pet? Experts from NorthStar VETS 24-hour emergency veterinary center in Robbinsville are ready to answer readers’ questions. Send your questions to

Q: My dog’s eyes are suddenly cloudy. Should I be concerned?
A: Nuclear sclerosis, or hardening of the lens as a dog ages, is a normal aging change in any dog over the age of six. Eyes appear slightly “milky” in the area of the pupil. This gradual change does not affect vision. If the increase in cloudiness is associated with redness, discharge, squinting or a change in vision, a veterinarian should evaluate
him as soon as possible. Many conditions can increase cloudiness in the eyes: normal aging change, glaucoma, cataract, corneal disease, intraocular inflammation, dry eye. Some can cause permanent vision change, discomfort or even loss of the eye. It is important to determine the cause of the cloudiness and what area of the eye it is affecting. More benign conditions, such as allergic conjunctivitis, can cause redness or some mild discharge, but are not associated with increased cloudiness. Your family veterinarian can advise if your pet should be evaluated or referred for examination by a ophthalmologist.

Kristina Vygantas, DVM, DACVO

–Kristina Vygantas, DVM, Diplomate,
of Amercian College of Veterinary Opthalmologists

Q: I am a pet sitter and I have a client whose cat recently started defecating outside of the litter box—on the couch,rug, and worse her bed. He is on behavioral meds but it does not seem to help. Any suggestions or reasons as to why he is doing this?
A: While inappropriate defecation can be a behavioral problem, it can also be a sign ofunderlying illness. The best thing to do is to discuss this with a family veterinarian, have a complete physical exam, complete blood work and then do radiographs or abdominal ultrasound if indicated. If an underlying disease has been ruled out, consultation with a behaviorist may be considered. There may be management strategies at home you can try in addition to the medication she is on that would help.

Kimberly Hammer, VMD, DACVIM

–Kimberly Hammer, VMD, DACVIM

Q: How can I make sure my dog has healthy teeth and gums?
A. Start early. Brushing is the single most important thing you can do to prevent tooth loss due to periodontal disease. If your pet is reluctant to brush, contact your local veterinary dentist, veterinarian or veterinary technician
to get some tips and tricks to ensure success.

While wearing disposable gloves, gently massage your pet’s lips, face and gums at a young age to allow him or her to become comfortable with daily oral home care. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush soaked in warm water in a circular motion at the gum line to brush off plaque, which is a combination of saliva, food particles and bacteria. Mineralization of plaque requires only about 24 hours, so brushing should really be done daily. Mineralized plaque (tartar) cannot be brushed off. Since tartar is an irregular surface, it encourages additional plaque accumulation, and the result is inflammation
of the gums and within the sulcus (the normal trough around each tooth). Inflammation caused by plaque results in loss of attachment and formation of periodontal pockets and bone loss. Eventually, teeth become mobile or infected beyond the point of salvage. There are other options if brushing just won’t work for you. See the Veterinary Oral Health Council website ( for a list of foods, treats and water additives that have been proven to prevent plaque and/or calculus accumulation. Dry kibble is a better option than canned food, which adheres to the teeth and increases plaque buildup.
Brushing and other plaque-preventing tools will help to minimize the number of professional dental cleanings that your pet will need, but the time will come when a subgingival (under the gumline) cleaning is necessary. Maintaining a healthy mouth not only helps prevent dental pain, but recent studies suggest oral care may help prevent problems at distant sites of the body. A healthy mouth means a healthy pet!

John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC

–John Lewis, VMD, FAVD, DAVDC

NorthStar VETS is a veterinary specialty and referral hospital located at 315 Robbinsville-Allentown Rd., Robbinsville. To learn more about NorthStar VETS’ full range of specialty veterinary expertise, call (609) 259-8300 or visit

This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *