Welcome to Dr. Michelle’s Corner. This month, Dr. Michelle Rudd of Crofton Veterinary Center discusses dental health for your pet.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Does your canine or feline companion have smelly breath? This might be a sign of a more serious problem with your pet’s teeth. One of the most common problems veterinarians see is dental disease in our companion animals. Tarter and hard plaque build up on our animals’ teeth is from bacteria, which if left untreated can cause serious health problems with the liver, kidneys and heart. Preventative home care and routine dental cleanings by your veterinarian are the most efficient and cost effective ways to keep your pets healthy, pain free and living as long as possible.
Teeth brushing is still the gold standard of preventative care and if introduced gradually can be performed in many dogs and even occasionally cats. There are several different types of tooth brushes available for animals and toothpastes with flavoring to make brushing an easier task. While brushing your pet’s teeth daily is ideal, a minimum of three times a week will help to prevent tarter build up. If brushing is not something you can do there are several other options to help with prevention of tarter. Feeding your pet a prescription dental diet is helpful in removing tater. The texture of these diets provides a mechanical cleansing action in addition to being a complete and balance diet. Several types of dental treats are also available to help clean animals teeth. Lastly there are several kinds of topical antibacterial products and water supplements available from your veterinarian.
At some point in the life of your pet, your veterinarian will recommend a dental cleaning also known as a prophy. This is a full ultrasonic cleaning of your animal’s teeth performed by the veterinary team while your pet is under general anesthesia. The prophy involves a removal of the tarter and plaque, cleaning under the gum line and polishing of the teeth. The general anesthesia allows your veterinarian to fully examine your pet’s mouth and inspect all teeth for problems such as decay and root exposure. Sometimes it is necessary for your veterinarian to remove teeth if they are badly diseased but often this can be avoided with good dental hygiene at home and cleanings at the time they are recommended. While anesthesia is always a concern, many safe short acting anesthetics are available now in veterinary medicine. Please discuss any concerns you might have with your veterinarian.
Dental health is important to your animal year round! While it is almost the end of February it is never too late to have your pets teeth checked out by your veterinarian and to work with your veterinarian to get good dental hygiene part of your pets every day lifestyle. Remember pets need dental care too!
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