Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dental Care: The Root of Your Pet's Health

Dental Care: The Root of Your Pet's Health

            Who doesn’t love getting kisses from their better half?  No I don’t mean your partner, your dog of course!  It is all fun games until your dog has a mouth that could clear out a room while you are watching the Packers-Bears game with friends.  But again, who wants Bear fans in their home?! (Yes I’m a Packer fan).

How Common is Dental Disease?
            According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease is the MOST COMMON clinical condition occurring in adult dogs and cats, and worse yet it is ENTIRELY preventable.  How common you might wonder?  Several studies have shown that in dogs by age 2 or 3, about 85-90% of them have some form of periodontal disease.  This number mirrors what I see in my daily practice.  Other than bad breath, there are unfortunately very few signs of periodontal disease.  As a result, a dental treatment comes often too late for many of these patients and leads to many teeth needing to be removed.

What can you do to prevent dental disease in your pet?

            The good news though, is that a lot of the disease that I see can be prevented with at home care.  This includes brushing of the teeth, chewing on bones, dental prescription diets, and dental chew products.  Before choosing a dental product, talk to your veterinarian of where to find products that are scientifically proven to help reduce dental disease.  He or She will likely talk about the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC.org).  This council will validate manufacturer’s claims of decreasing dental disease.  You can go to this council’s website and look for products that you
can try.  My favorite products to use are “dental diets”.  I look at this as us brushing our teeth once or twice a day depending on how often you feed your dog.  It is easy and dogs love these products.
The goal of at home care is the same goal with your own dental health; a beautiful pain-free, functional mouth.  Dental cleanings will still be recommended by your veterinarian, just like we see our dentists regularly.  By doing more frequent cleaning treatments, anesthesia time will be less, there will be less teeth extracted over the course of the life of the dog, and there will be less risk of systemic disease as a result of chronic dental disease.

            In closing, I want your dogs to be among your friends watching the game due to the fact that he/she has a healthy mouth.  The more Packers fans the better during a Packers-Bears game!  Please look at the following websites for more information and talk to your veterinarian as well regarding dental cleaning treatments.  

Nick Juleen, DVM
Wolf Merrick Animal Hospital
Websites:  The American Veterinary Dental College, www.avdc.org and The Veterinary Oral Health Council, www.vohc.org

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

February is Pet Dental Month

February is National Pet Dental Health Month – I Say No Way!  Let’s make it a year-round goal.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), the month of February is National Pet Dental Health Month.  This was started to raise awareness to our pets’ oral health which is a fantastic goal.  I support this notion, but all kidding aside, it takes more than one month out of twelve to make a healthy mouth.

Unfortunately tartar happens.  We humans brush our teeth every day, twice a day.  When we visit our dentist (ideally twice a year) they can still find plaque and tartar to remove from our teeth.  Our four-legged friends are not that different in what causes periodontal disease, except that they don’t open up and say “ahhh” nearly as much as we veterinarians and owners would like.  It starts when bacteria and plaque harden to tartar.  This leads to inflammation and infection of the gums which eventually works its way to the roots of the teeth and at its worst, leads to loss of bone, loosening of the tooth, and loss of the tooth.

Even more concerning, advanced dental disease can lead to bacteria in the bloodstream which can cause microscopic damage to the heart, liver, and kidneys.
The key to managing dental health and therefore gum infection and tooth decay is prevention!  Brushing daily to every other day is the gold standard as this keeps the plaque from becoming hardened tartar.  However, when this is not an option, consider daily chewing activities.  When using products to clean you pets’ teeth, make sure they are approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council and appropriate for your pets’ size and chewing capacity.  There are prescription dental diets that can be used as aids as well, as can a variety of oral rinses, sprays, and enzymatic chews from C.E.T.

Also, have your pet’s mouth checked periodically by your veterinarian.  If we recommend a professional dental cleaning, or dental prophy, take it to heart as we are trying to prevent your pet from having to have numerous teeth extracted.  Regular professional dental care is a great addition to the care you provide at home in order to control plaque and tartar!  Depending on breed, genetics, chewing habits, and homecare routine, some pets may need a professional prophy and evaluation every 6-12 months to maintain oral health – just like us!  Others will need it much less frequently. 

Good luck folks!  Keep smiling and don’t be afraid to talk to us about your pet’s dental health, no matter what month of the year it is!

article written by:
Dr. Jessica Smith
Companion Animal Hospital Mount Prospect
Mount Prospect, IL
(formerly Camp McDonald Animal Hospital)