February is National Pet Dental Month, and a great time to talk to your
veterinarian about the state of your pet’s mouth and, if needed, schedule a
There is a price to pay for neglecting your companion animal’s dental health.
It’s a long-term cost that’s potentially much higher than the short-term fees
associated with a dental cleaning. Several problem areas can develop as a result
of poor dental care: excessive tartar, tooth decay, periodontal disease and oral
abscesses. These conditions can be the gateway to other major medical conditions
involving the heart, liver and kidneys. As with humans, such advanced dental
disease can diminish your pet kid’s quality of life and even shorten lifespan.
Many put off dental cleanings for fear of exorbitant costs or presumed dire
risks. However, with safety measures in place, anesthetic risk is minimized,
especially compared to decades past. The fact is that the benefits of dental
care more than outweigh the concerns, no matter the age of your pet.
There are many benefits to having your pet’s teeth cleaned. No matter how
much we joke about dog breath, foul odors caused by dental infections are no
laughing matter. After a dental cleaning, your pet’s breath will be fresh again.
Best of all, it will stay fresh with regular dental care. Keep in mind that the
regular use of health-promoting dental care products and treats can help reduce
plaque buildup and freshen breath, too.
Some older pets have mouths that are so painful that eating becomes an
ordeal. Once rotten teeth are extracted, eating can become pleasurable again. By
addressing periodontal concerns early on, your dog or cat will also live
longer and healthier, and enjoy a better quality life.
Many people are afraid of dental cleanings and anesthesia, but I find that’s
often remedied by a little information. Even though anesthesia has some minor
risks, it has never been safer or more comfortable. Many incorrectly assume that
anesthesia is something simply administered through a mask, much like ether was
used ages ago. However, modern veterinary medicine has advanced tremendously,
tailoring anesthesia to best fit the patient. Today’s vets utilize a protocol
that includes use of injectable medications, pain-control agents, and/or a
combination of inhalants and pure oxygen delivered through a breathing tube.
Prescreening for underlying problems helps to avoid unnecessary risks. Expect
your vet to complete a physical examination – blood work; liver, kidney and
thyroid functions; verifying that all of the body’s organs are fit – all of this
is done before any anesthesia is administered. During the dental procedure,
there is constant monitoring by trained technicians and computerized equipment.
All the while, patients are given IV fluids and kept cozy with warm blankets.
Thanks to National Pet Dental Month, now is the time to take advantage of
dental cleaning specials offered by veterinary clinics. Be sure to check with
your clinic soon to inquire about any current promotions. I strongly encourage
you to partner with your veterinarian, to ensure that your fur kid has the kind
of oral healthcare that will help to support a long and healthy life.
Thank you for all you do to make the world a better place for companion animals.
Dr. Jane Bicks