Say Cheese! Pursuing a Perfect Smile….
by Dawn Todd
The foundation of great health is the same for us and our pets. We have strikingly similar nutritional, physical, and psychological needs. And dental health is just as important to your pet’s overall health as it is to ours. Dental disease is not only painful – it can “seed” (or start) heart, kidney and liver disease.
I know all about the issue, so why don’t I get the toothbrush out and brush away at the 8 – 10 mouths we have at our house on any given day? Well, the truth is, we’re all busy, and when it comes to our pet’s teeth — out of sight is very often out of mind!
So what’s a responsible pet parent to do?
For starters, stop by Noah’s Ark’s Health Fair on Saturday April 18 from 1pm until 3pm. Dr. Todd & Dr. Thomas will be available to perform free dental exams, along with weight checks, and flea exams. Dawn will be on hand to help you with your questions about diet, and there will also be fun prizes and give-aways!
Here’s more advice from Dr. Todd for keeping teeth and gums in tip-top shape:
Don’t wait for trouble: Horrible breath, loss of weight, heavy accumulation of plaque, teeth that are already loose are all signs of periodontal disease. When you bring pets for annual or semi-annual physical exams, a thorough dental exam is included. With regular exams and dental cleanings, we can prevent tooth loss and disease.
Prevent Pain: Dogs and cats are generally quite stoic, and don’t show pain until disease is quite advanced. It’s very common to see pets act years younger after a dental cleaning and extraction of diseased teeth. Pain free pets feel much, much better, and it shows!
Feed a high quality diet: Low cost commercial diets and treats have added sugar. Sugar wreaks the same havoc on pet teeth as ours. Dry food and kibble diets crumble, mix with saliva and can stick at the gum line contributing to periodontal disease. We recommend fresh marrow bones* to help keep teeth and gums healthy between cleanings. Pets eating a raw diet, for a number of reasons, are less prone to dental disease.(*We have fresh bison marrow bones available at Noah’s Ark.)
Maintain teeth between cleanings: We have multiple additives and solutions to help slow plaque progression. If your pets will allow you, brush teeth daily. Here are detailed instructions for canines and felines.
Don’t neglect your cats: We’ve previously written about how it’s healthier to feed fresh or canned food to cats. If you feed your cats a dry feline diet, expect them to need professional dental cleaning each year.
Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish: An uncomplicated dental cleaning with professional sealer applied costs just $240. Waiting until the work is critical can cost FIVE TIMES that! And there’s no replacing lost teeth or damaged organs. Let us help, we’re here for you!
A DIY guide to sneaking a peek at your pet’s teeth:
Responsible pet parents not only bring their pets in for regular dental examinations by Noah’s Ark veterinarians, they also check pet’s teeth (at least monthly) between exams.
Here’s how you do it….
Disclaimer: In general, dogs are far more cooperative about this type of exam than your average feline. Unless your cat is very easy going and cooperative about being handled, please leave dental exams for our trained (and brave) staff!
To check your pet’s teeth — start by lifting the upper lip. Clean, white, unbroken teeth and nice pink gums are what you want to see. The breath should be bearable, not toxic. It’s hardest to see the teeth furthest back, but if your pet will tolerate it, try to peek at the teeth farthest in the back of the mouth. Lift the lips on both sides, checking upper and lower teeth. This may be easier to do with a helper.
After your dog (or cat) endures your home dental exam, be sure to give plenty of praise, affection, and even a little bit of their favorite treat. You want your pet to associate having their teeth looked at with a nice reward — a extra good treat and some happy verbal praising. If at first you don’t succeed, take baby steps to see if you can gradually get your companion to allow you to see all of the teeth.
During this exam, be on the look out for cracked or broken teeth, brown teeth, teeth caked with tartar, red or inflamed gums, brown or black spots on the gums, and any unusual tissue growth. If you see any of these problems during your pet’s home dental examine, schedule a visit to our office.
A buildup of plaque and tartar on teeth will, sooner or later, cause the gums to become inflamed and painful. Without intervention, teeth become loose and they eventually just fall out. This is periodontal disease, just like we see in humans. It’s just as painful a process in dogs and cats as it is in humans, and it can have a profoundly negative affect on overall health.
We do our best to keep dental cleaning very affordable because it’s such an important part of overall health. GOLD Well Plans include a dental cleaning and comprehensive laboratory work for just $39.95 per month. We’ll also be announcing new payment plans at the Health Fair!