February is National Pet Dental Health Month. By the age of 3, most dogs and cats have signs of periodontal disease. Signs of dental disease include bad breath, broken or loose teeth, retained baby teeth, tartar, discolored teeth, abnormal chewing or drooling, dropping food from the mouth, decreased appetite, bleeding, or swelling around the mouth. The only way to address periodontal disease is with a dentistry performed under general anesthesia, so the health of the teeth can be checked from all angles, including under the gum line. In celebration of National Pet Dental Month, Willow Creek Veterinary Center is offering $50 off a dental procedure performed during the month of February. Please call to schedule your consultation today.
Once we have professionally cleaned your pet’s teeth, many people ask how we can keep the remaining teeth healthy. Ideally, brushing daily to several times a week with a toothbrush and a pet toothpaste is the best method. If your pet is not willing to go along with that option, there are additives to the water, raw hide treats that are treated with an enzyme to prevent tartar, and the new Oravet chews that scrape the plaque off the tooth as the dog chews. If you are looking at the large variety of over the counter chews, make sure to look for the VOHC seal of approval, which indicates that the treat meets the Veterinary Oral Healthy Council criteria for teeth cleaning protocols.
Recently, I performed a dental on a 14-year-old Chihuahua. The owner had been told by another veterinarian that the dog was too old for a dental. We safely performed the dental, and extracted multiple teeth that had advanced periodontal disease. At the next visit, the owner asked me what I did to her dog. Then she laughed, and explained her dog had a new lease on life. He was jumping into bed with her, playing with toys that had been ignored for years, and generally acting like a dog half his age. Dental disease hurts! Dogs that are labeled as grumpy, “slowing down”, and old may in fact be dealing with chronic pain. If your dog or cat suffers from dental disease, don’t let age stop you from talking to us about a dental. Age is not a disease, and we may be able to give your pet a new lease on life.
Ann E. Bastian, V.M.D.