So far, this series of blog posts have covered:
#1 – Have a financial plan to cover the costs of veterinary care
#2 – Have a thorough physical examination done every year
#3 – Feed really good food
#4 – Vaccinate only for what is really needed and only as often as necessary
#5 – Don’t let them get fat
#6 – Price-shop medications, supplements, and special needs foods
Our next topic is about a part of our pets that most of us pay little attention to!
#7 – Take Care of Their Teeth!
Dental disease is probably the number one problem we see in adult dogs and cats. From badly aligned teeth and periodontal disease, to loose and broken teeth, not a day goes by that we don’t take care of several pets who are suffering from some problem in their mouth!
Part of the reason for this is that, as pet owners, we tend to believe that bad breath in our dog or cat is normal. Bad breath in our pets is NEVER NORMAL and nearly always a sign of infection that can lead to early failure of major organs! So, the first step in addressing dental problems in our pets is…
“Take a Whiff” – Lift the upper lip of your cat and dog, place your face close in and inhale deeply through your nose! If you smell anything unpleasant, your pet almost surely has dental disease!
Secondly, “Take a Look” – Again, flip the lip and look at the canine (fang) teeth as well as the large premolars and molars that reside in the upper jaw just under your pet’s eyes. Teeth that are brown, yellow, gray or any other color but white are abnormal and gums that are red or bleeding are abnormal too! I often ask clients, “If you looked at your teeth in the mirror and they looked like your pet’s teeth do today, what would you do?” In most cases, we would be off to the dentist that day!
In terms of preventive care for pet teeth, nothing beats home brushing! We can teach you how to do a simple, daily, one-minute tooth brushing for your cat or dog that will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars in dental bills over their lifespan! JUST ASK US HOW TO DO THIS THE NEXT TIME YOU ARE IN WITH YOUR PET! Dental chews like Greenies, water additives, safe chew toys and dental diets (especially in cats!) can also help.
Once tartar and calculus have built up on our pet’s teeth, no amount brushing or chew toys or dental diets will do much good. At this point, what is needed is a thorough cleaning under a general anesthetic! Anesthesia is also needed for dental X-rays, periodontal care, extractions, etc. Because all of these procedures carry with them some risk and a lot of expense, anything you can do to prevent your pet’s teeth from getting bad in the first place will save them a lot of grief and your wallet a lot of stress!
-Dr. Chris Wilson