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Put Some Teeth Into Your Pet’s Dental Care

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Ask Your Veterinarian About Pet Dental Care

You are not alone in the fight against pet dental decay. Ask your veterinarian to show you how to brush your pet’s teeth and look for dental problems. Your pet care professional can also recommend pet dental care products, food choices and appropriate chew toys. Then the two of you can work together to set a schedule for professional dental care based on the condition of your pet’s teeth, age and breed. With regular care you and your veterinarian can help your pet experience a lifetime of healthy teeth.

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, nearly two-thirds of pets suffer from dental problems because their owners do not provide dental care for them. Imagine what would happen to your own teeth if they were never brushed or examined by a dentist. The same thing can happen with your pet’s teeth. Just as in humans, not brushing leaves bacteria and plaque in your pet’s mouth. As this hardens into tartar and builds up on the teeth, it starts invading between the teeth and gums. Left unchecked, your pet can experience gingivitis, loss of the gum and supporting structures, and eventually the loss of a tooth. Abscessed teeth frequently develop from this process or from a fractured tooth. These can lead to an infection, problems eating, or serious health complications in your pet’s heart, kidneys or liver.  Studies show that poor dental care shortens their life span by 20%.

Fortunately there are many steps that can be taken to insure good oral health for pets. Most importantly, you can begin at home by brushing your pet’s teeth regularly, this means every day!  Don’t use your toothpaste, it creates suds, which is ok for humans since we can rinse and spit. There are special pet toothbrushes you can use on pets and toothpastes that are ok for pets to swallow.  It’s best to start when you first bring your puppy or kitten home, but even an older dog or cat can be taught to tolerate regular brushing. Chewing hard food and playing with hard toys can also help dislodge some of the plaque in your pet’s mouth, but make sure the chew toy is not too hard or your dog could fracture a tooth.

You should also be sure to make regular appointments with your veterinarian for dental care. Dental specialists recommend annual dental cleanings under anesthesia with your veterinarian.  He will examine your pet’s teeth and may take x-rays to look for hidden lesions of dental decay, abscesses at the tip of the root, or retained roots from broken teeth. The doctor will remove accumulated plaque, clean and polish your pet’s teeth, and may apply fluoride or a protective sealant. In certain cases your veterinarian may need to perform dental surgery such as a root canal or extraction.

One sign that your pet may be having dental problems is bad breath. Other signs may include a disinterest in eating, drooling, loose teeth, pain when touched, inflamed or red gums, or bleeding. If you notice any of these signs in your pet, it is important to make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.  But don't wait for these signs to develop, brush their teeth daily. With annual dental cleanings and treatments and regular brushing, you could prevent these symptoms!

Don’t ignore your pet’s teeth. Work together with your veterinarian to take the steps necessary to insure your pet keeps those pearly whites for a long time to come!

Sources:

American Animal Hospital Association, Dental Care Guidelines

ASPCA, Ten Steps to Your Dog’s Dental Health

American Veterinary Dental College

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Testimonial

Don't take a good vet for granted, that's what I say. I currently live in another state and have taken my 10 year old dog to numerous vets over the years (California, Colorado, Vegas, and then some). Never have I ever received the attention and care I've gotten w/Dr. Hines. Within the past 3 months alone, my dog went to 3 different vets for a horrible and painful skin problem that broke out all over her body.

The first vet: I spent more time ponying up the $175 for the visit than the Dr. spent actually looking at my dog. He performed a woods lamp exam for ringworm. Even without Google or a veterinary degree, I could tell it wasn't ringworm. Thanks for taking my money.
Second vet: "Here's some spray, now here's your bill. Bring her back in two weeks so I can charge you another visit." No tests, nothing.
Between the two, I felt like I got nowhere. No definitive answer on why this affected my dog and the medication given wasn't even for a diagnosed condition. Just some general topical spray. I could have bought it at Petsmart and saved myself the time and money.
Recently, on a visit to Idaho, I planned ahead to bring my dog to the Rupert Animal Clinic. I asked the same questions, had the same concerns and now have different results. Dr. Hines gave me options on what route to take, ran appropriate tests and communicated with me every step of the way (even calling me personally when test results came in). My primary concern was cancer. Our dog is like our child- we'll pay the money if we can keep her healthy and safe. In the future, I've resolved to bring my dog to Rupert Animal Clinic on our annual trip for all of her exams. I know she won't be treated as a little cash cow to exploit an owner's love for pets.

Sung L.
Rupert, ID

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