February is Dental Health Month

posted: by: Dr. Betsy North Tags: "Clinic Specials" "News" 

Dental Care for Dogs and Cats
By Betsy North, DVM

Have you ever wondered why your pet has "doggie" breath?  Chances are you pet needs a dental cleaning!

Can you imagine what would happen if you didn't brush your teeth for 6-12 months between visits to your dentist?  Dogs and cats form plaque on their teeth just like their human friends, which then leads to a hard substance called tartar.  This brown substance can be seen along the gum line, leading to gingivitis.  From there, the bacteria travel up along the roots of teeth, causing infection and bone destruction.  Eventually this can lead to loss of teeth.  These bacteria get into the bloodstream and can affect major organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and heart.

So what can you do to help?  First, gently lift your dog or cat's lip and check for brown tartar on the outer surfaces of the teeth, especially the upper teeth.  If you see tartar, please schedule a consultation to see if it is time for a professional dental cleaning.  Once the tartar is removed and the teeth are polished, it will be much easier to take preventative steps to keep those teeth white and clean.  Ongoing home care will be recommended and may consists of brushing the teeth (not as difficult as it sounds- ask for a demonstration!), special diet or treats, and possibly water additives.

How often is a professional cleaning needed?  That varies among individual pets and people.  Some form tartar very slowly and can be maintained well with home care for several years.  Other pets make more plaque and tartar and require more frequent care.  While dry food is more crunchy, most cats and many dogs do not chew dry pieces of over-the-counter food enough to clean their teeth.  Some special diets contain additional ingredients or are larger pieces to encourage dental health.  While canned diets don't "crunch," many pets need wet food for a variety of reasons and should not be discontinued without discussing this with the doctor.

Your pet will thank you with sweet puppy kisses instead of stinky doggie breath!

Loving Care is offering $25 off any professional dental cleanings throughout the month of February for Dental Health Month.  Call and schedule today at 847-963-8887.