Dental care for pets is just as important for pets as it is for their owners. Daily brushing, dental exams and cleanings should be part of your pet’s routine care just as vaccines and tick and flea protection are.
Why is dental health important for pets?
Oral disease is the most commonly diagnosed problem in small animal patients. Studies show that as many as 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop signs of periodontal disease or gingivitis before they reach three years old. Without regular cleaning, both at home and professionally, bacteria and plaque can build up on the teeth and gums causing bad breath and gingivitis. If that wasn't bad enough, those bacteria can get into your pet's bloodstream and cause damage to the heart, lungs, liver and kidneys. If those pearly whites seem more yellow than white and the gums are swollen ore inflamed, you're looking at a plaque and tartar buildup. Are the gums red or bleeding? That can be gingivitis, or the beginnings of more severe periodontal diseases. Left without treatment, this can lead to oral pain or tooth loss, and that can keep your pet from wanting to eat. Loss of appetite, excessive drooling, reduced appetite or refusal to chew are all signs that dental disease may be affecting your pet. At your next visit, please ask us for a hands-on lesson in providing good home dental care for your pet.
My veterinarian says my pet needs a dental cleaning and I worry about anesthesia.
When you see your dentist, you try not to bite down on his hand when he hits a sensitive spot. A pet has no idea why someone new has their hands in his mouth. Pets will only sit still for a short time and when strange people are putting even stranger objects in their mouths; they get very nervous. You have to admit, when the dentist hits a sensitive spot you do your best not to move – pets don’t have that ability. A light level of anesthesia will allow a thorough examination of the mouth and tooth cleaning since there should be very little discomfort. Under light anesthesia a pet can still twitch and tell us if there is a painful tooth so deeper anesthesia or stronger analgesia can be given as needed so we can fix the problem teeth without pain.
Brushing daily is impossible, my pet won’t let me near his mouth!
While brushing is the gold standard, there are other options for daily dental cleaning. We have several options for dental care that includes chews or rinses. MaxiGuard Gel, is a gel that is applied to the gum line daily and has enzymes that work with the saliva to break down tartar. Dental Chlorhexidine Rinse is a mouthwash that can be used 2 ways, either squirt the rinse directly into the mouth and rinse away any loose debris or apply the rinse to a soft cloth and use it to wipe the teeth clean. There is also a variety of dental chews and treats for both cats and dogs. We carry Greenies Flavor Fusion dental treats for cats, a crunchy treat that scrapes tartar from teeth. For dogs we have Pet Hygenics Enzy-Chews (an enzyme-coated rawhide chew) and VeggieDent chews (a semi-firm, vegetable-based chew that helps scrape the tartar and plaque from the teeth. Two prescription dental diets are available for both cats and dogs. Hill’s T/D and Purina DH are both larger size kibble to help clean the tooth surface. We generally recommend using them as a treat but they are formulated to be a healthy diet for pets.
Ok, dental cleaning, brushing but radiographs (x-rays)!?
While radiographs are recommended, they are not always necessary. When recommended the doctor wants to see what is going on under the gumline. What are they looking for? Broken teeth below the gumline, pockets of infection, the condition of the tooth sockets, jaw, and tumors among other things.
It is not too late to start. A full dental cleaning can bring your pet’s teeth back to a point where, with at home care, your pet’s dental health can be improved. With improving their oral health, you help improve their all over health.
February is Dental Health Month! Schedule a full dental cleaning in the months of February or March and receive $25 off.
Visit our website at www.towneandcountryveterinaryhospital.com for our most up to date offers and rebates.
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