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 dental cleaning.
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