Pet dental care is vital to your dog or cat’s overall health and quality of life. Without preventive dental care, pets can experience tooth and bone loss, gum inflammation, infection and pain which may go unnoticed because they cannot tell us when something is wrong.
According to recent studies, the most common aliment veterinarians diagnose is dental disease. The sad news is that over 65% of cats and 75% of dogs over the age of three have some level of periodontal disease. A 2010 study conducted by Purdue University looked at the health records of 120,000 dogs. The study results demonstrated that dogs affected by dental disease had higher rates of heart disease.
Good pet dental care is no different for our pets than it is for us: brush teeth daily and see a veterinary professional for exams and cleanings.
One without the other does not guarantee a problem-free mouth. No matter how stellar our daily dental hygiene routine is, cavities happen and tartar scraping at the gum line is necessary! Professional exams, dental x-rays and cleanings on dogs and cats must be performed by a veterinarian.
“It’s understandable how pet owners might think that 3 years old is young for a dog or cat to have dental disease, so it’s important to look at it in human terms. Imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth until you were over 30. That’s how old your cat is in human years by the time it reaches three,” said Dr. Laura Weis, who owns Doylestown Veterinary Hospital and Holiday House Pet Resort with her husband Dr. Randy Weis.
Brushing every day is best, but even a couple times a week is better than not brushing at all. Here are simple steps for brushing your pet’s teeth:
Begin when your pet is calm and quiet, gently lifting up her lips and rubbing your finger tip along the outside surface of her gums.
Use gentle praise and offer a reward of a tiny dollop of pet toothpaste for calm acceptance, but don’t treat brushing as a game.
Spend only a few seconds in the mouth, gradually increasing the time to a minute or more.
Move to using your finger wrapped in a thin washcloth or a soft veterinary toothbrush and pet toothpaste which comes in a variety of flavors like chicken, liver and tuna. Never use human toothpaste!
Angle your finger or the brush at 45 degrees to the teeth and gently massage from the tip of the tooth to the crown in circular motions.
“Focusing on pet oral health is at the forefront of improving the quality of life for dogs and cats. As veterinarians we are advocates for our patients. Keeping a pet’s mouth healthy involves an active partnership between the home care each pet receives and professional cleaning and treatment,” added Dr. Laura Weis.
The Client Experience: A Comprehensive Oral Health Assessment and Treatment
In the exam & consultation room with you and your pet after checking in:
Thorough patient history and review of diet and home dental health
General physical examination of your pet
Pre-procedure diagnostics (such as blood work, urine testing and a cardiac evaluation—as indicated by age and health issues)
Awake oral examination
Discussion of known and suspected dental problems and development of a treatment plan
In the surgical suite:
Removal of heavy plaque and tartar
Measuring depths around teeth and recording on a dental chart
Examination of tooth crowns for wear, fractures, discoloration
Revision of treatment plan
Scaling of all teeth above and below the gum line
Oral surgical procedures as needed (such as extractions, endodontics and biopsies)
Polishing of all teeth above and below the gum line
Rinsing and flushing of mouth followed by fluoride treatment
The check-out process:
Review of detailed discharge instructions and guidance for diet and home dental care
10-14 day follow-up to assess healing and answer questions
It’s never too late to begin a preventive dental program.
Taking preventive steps over the lifetime of your pet may reduce the impact of bad oral health and the costs associated with managing acute dental disease. Dental wellness is an important aspect of your pet’s care. At Doylestown Veterinary Hospital, annual exams include inspection of your pet’s mouth; this is a great time to review daily care and brushing technique, and discuss the benefits of a professional dental cleaning. If you notice a change in the odor of your pet’s breath, a cracked or loose tooth, or a change in behavior or eating habits, call your veterinary professional to schedule an exam. Grooming services at Holiday House Pet Resort also offers teeth brushing.