By Dr. Norette L. Undewood
February is Pet Dental Month!
Is Cleaning Your dog’s teeth Really Necessary?
The importance of cleaning dogs’ teeth is become more apparent as veterinary medicine advances. It started with pet owners complaining about their dogs’ bad breath and wanting solutions. After veterinary investigation, a disturbing recognition came to light: at least 80% of dogs and cats, over 2 years of age suffer from some level of pet dental disease. Pets that develop periodontal disease struggle with excruciating dental pain that they can’t communicate to their owners. They develop loss of appetite because it is too painful to chew. Their health may deteriorate from bacterial infections that can invade the bloodstream and go to the heart, lungs, kidneys and liver. Yes regular dental cleaning is one of the secrets to your pet living a long healthy life.
Symptoms of Pet Dental Disease
Your pet may be one of the 80% in need of pet dental care if he or she:
• Has bad breath
• Drools excessively
• Has red, swollen and/or bleeding gums
• Has loose or missing teeth
• Has crusty, yellow or brown buildup on the teeth
• Has chew toys stained with blood
• Seems in pain when eating or drinking (or is reluctant to do either of those activities)
• Has any cysts, lumps or tumors on or under the tongue or on the gums
• Has never had a pet dental checkup
If you notice one or more of these signs consult your veterinarian to see if they need a professional dental cleaning. But keep in mind: many pets hide their dental pain well; so even if no signs are readily apparent, there may still be a problem. So schedule an appointment as soon as possible whether symptoms are apparent or not.
The Importance of Cleaning Dogs Teeth
There are two critical aspects to pet dental health:
1. Professional veterinary dental cleanings (as recommended by your veterinarian)
Keep in mind that a regularly-scheduled dog dental cleaning costs far less than having to treat organ and tissue damage caused by unchecked dental disease. Your veterinarian will thoroughly examine your pet’s teeth while under anesthesia. The anesthesia is important because your pet needs to remain absolutely still during the cleaning process; the dental tools are sharp and a nervous flinch from even the calmest pet can lead to injury. This will also enable your veterinarian to give the most thorough cleaning and check for any other problems. If your pet’s dental problems are severe, your veterinarian can also perform extractions or other oral surgery.
2. A daily dental hygiene routine at home:
Daily brushing will give your pet a longer, healthier, less-painful life. Without regular brushing, plaque builds up and becomes cement-like tartar. This becomes a breeding ground for harmful bacteria that can damage gums, facial bones, teeth and internal organs.
Your veterinarian and their Hospital team can give you advice, instructions and even outfit you with the appropriate toothbrushes and toothpastes that will work for your pet. (NOTE: Do not use human toothpastes for your pet. They are not meant to be swallowed. They can cause stomach upset. Animal-formulated pet toothpastes come in yummy flavors like chicken, tuna and peanut butter; flavors more enjoyable for your pet!)
If you have questions about pet dental care contact Dr. Norette L. Underwood of the Trumann Animal Clinic and Best Friends Vet Mobile Service at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 870-483-6275.