February 1st kicks off the start of National Pet Dental Health Month. We believe dental health is important for each and every patient. With so many different ways for owners to address dental health for their pets, there is sure to be something that can fit every lifestyle and pet personality. And for those dogs and cats who will benefit from a thorough dental cleaning under anesthesia, Lawndale Veterinary Hospital is offering 20% off dental cleanings all month long.
Home Dental Care:
As a pet owner in charge of providing home dental care for your pet, you have many different options! Daily tooth brushing is a great way to remove plaque before hard dental calculus can develop. It will also give you a regular look inside the mouth to help identify concerns early. But what if your pet is not crazy about having his or her teeth brushed? Well, just like any new skill or behavior you are trying to teach your pet – start slowly and gradually increase the expectations. For example, maybe you spend a few days just lifting your dog’s lip and brushing one area. Then as the days progress, you increase the number of teeth you try and cover. Flavored pet toothpaste can make the experience more enjoyable for your pet (and human toothpaste should not be used because it is toxic!). Visit our Paws to Protect: Dental Health tab to view a video on how to brush teeth.
Many animals can benefit from a prescription dental diet. Diets such as Hill’s Prescription Diet t/d (for dogs and cats) have been clinically proven to reduce plaque, stain, and tartar buildup. Oral hygiene rinses or gels that contain chlorhexidine can decrease the accumulation of bacteria that create plaque. A stroll down the pet treat aisle in a pet store quickly reveals there are a plethora of treats formulated for dental care. When choosing dental treats, first check for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval. This means the treat has actually been shown to have some effect against plaque and tartar accumulation. Next, be sure to keep tabs on how many calories your pet is getting with the new treats. We don’t want the good efforts toward dental health to create an overweight pet. Of course, you should also make sure the dental treat is safe for your individual pet. Always supervise your pet with dental chews, and be sure he or she is chewing the treat down to a safe size for swallowing. If your dog likes to chew, don’t forget that appropriate-strength chew toys can also assist in plaque removal. Visit our Paws to Protect: Dental Health to learn more about home dental care.
Consequences of Dental Disease:
Dental disease can encompass a range of changes in the oral cavity – from mild plaque and tartar accumulation all the way to periodontal disease. Periodontal disease means that an inflammatory process has set in that can impact the soft tissue structures and bone that hold the teeth in place. As periodontal disease progresses through different stages of severity, your pet can develop symptoms such as gingivitis, mouth pain, oral bleeding, tooth root infections, bad breath, decreased appetite, changes in chewing ability, or behavioral changes. Dental disease has also been shown to potentially impact other areas in the body such as the heart and kidneys. With all these potential complications, it should be easy to see why Lawndale Veterinary Hospital feels dental health is so important for each pet. Learn more about the consequences of dental disease.
If you have noted changes in your pet related to dental disease, it may be time for a dental cleaning under anesthesia. This will give our doctors the opportunity to examine the entire oral cavity thoroughly. We will scale and polish the teeth and check for any areas of dental disease. Dental radiography can be used to assess the health of the teeth under the gums whenever there is an area of concern. Sometimes we find that the best course of action is to extract a diseased tooth. If your pet might be in a need of a dental cleaning, we encourage you to schedule a time to discuss things further with one of our doctors. And don’t forget – throughout February the dental cleaning is 20% off!
So how much do you really know about pet dental health? Take the AVMAs quiz here and test your knowledge. If you have any questions about your pet’s dental health options, talk to our staff today!
Author: Dr. C. Noureddine, DVM, MS