Having the conversation with pet owners that are dubious that their pets need dental care is a repetitive part but essential part of being a veterinarian. It is true that periodontal disease is by far the most common disease I see in dogs or cats older than a mere two or three years of age, and while more and more pet owners are recognizing that they pets can get toothaches like they can, there are still a large number of pet owners that ignore the fact that pets need dental care too.
Bad dog breath is not normal. It usually signals periodontal disease, which leads to tooth decay, oral abscesses, bleeding gums, tooth loss, and systemic infections that affect the kidneys, liver, and heart. And that doesn’t even mention the pain associated with periodontal disease.
So how often should you brush your pet’s teeth? Daily. This is one of those do as I say and not as I do. I am guilty of not brushing our pet’s teeth daily. I understand how difficult it is, and am not passing judgment. But if you strive for daily and perhaps reach every other day, I can vouch in the difference it will make.
Luckily, most general practice vets are trained in dental cleanings. While the procedure does require anesthesia as we are poking in the backs of their mouths with tickly instruments and headlamps, it is not a reason to shy away from the procedure. I would seek out a vet that includes pre-anesthetic blood-work (including both a complete blood cell count and a serum biochemistry panel) as part of the package deal. If your veterinarian has the blood work itemized separately and as an option, they really don’t have your pet’s best interest at heart and it is a red flag warning that they are willing to cut corners and risk your pet’s health.
After getting a clean and squeaky smile to move forward with, you can ask a vet to demonstrate how to effectively brush your pet’s teeth. It may take some practice (okay, guaranteed it will), but give it time. Also, make sure to use a toothpaste specifically for dogs or cats. Since they don’t rinse and spit, if they swallow our toothpaste it can be dangerous for them.
We are nearing the end of Pet Dental Month. How many times have you brushed your dog or cat’s teeth this month? Make the last few days count if you’ve forgotten! What are your best tips for fellow pet owners?
Check out some related blog posts...
- Ask a vet for advice on choosing a pet
Part 2, by Online Vet Dr. Laci
Trying to answer the question, "What breed is best for my home and family?"
Okay, you've decided if you are going to go dog or cat, but the the next decision is a bit more difficult. Whether it is important to you to ...
- Online vet advice to keep your pet safe at Easter
Easter is a very fun time of your for children and adults alike, but there are some dangers that the pastel holiday poses to our pets. Ask a vet and they are certain to agree that the following items are off limits.
Chocolate is toxic for dogs and c...
- Pet Nutrition: Pet Food Label Tips from your Online Vet
Part 2: Ask a Vet
As we reviewed last week in part one of pet nutrition, AAFCO stands for Association of American Feed Control Officials. This organization sets the nutritional standards for pet foods sold in the United States.
Easy things first-...
- Beat the heat with vet tips for a safe summer
July is here, and along with it the official dog days of summer. Keep your pets safe during this heated season with these easy tips.
Dogs and cats can become dehydrated quickly, so give your pets plenty of water when they are o...
Tags: cats, dogs, health, How To, Informative Pet Posts