Maintaining dental health is an important part of your pet’s preventive health care regimen. Dental health is so important at the Animal Medical Center, we have a Dentistry Service staffed by three veterinarians devoted to full-time dentistry for dogs and cats (and the occasional less common pet!). In honor of National Pet Dental Health Month, I have amalgamated some prior blogs on the topic of dentistry to serve as a resource for pet dental issues.
Inside the Mouth
Many pets resist an oral examination in the veterinarian’s office and completely refuse to let their family even have a peek inside their mouth. In the photo blog post, “Hound’s Tooth and Cat’s Teeth,” you can view some great images of the inside of dog and cat mouths. Better yet, you can see the magic a good dental cleaning can do for your pet’s teeth in some before and after photos highlighting AMC’s dentists’ work.
Dental Do’s and Don’ts
AMC’s dentists have a list of do’s and don’ts for your pet. I found the fact that tennis balls are a don’t to be fascinating. The felt on tennis balls abrades a dog’s tooth enamel, which is how the dayglow yellow balls landed on the don’ts list. Who knew? Our dentists recommend felt-less tennis balls.
Smile, If You Have Clean Teeth
Prophylactic tooth cleaning is generally recommended every 12-24 months, but certain dogs and cats have dental problems requiring a different protocol. Many pet families resist dental cleaning recommendations made by their veterinarian because of the need for anesthesia to properly perform a comprehensive veterinary dental cleaning. Read about anesthesia in veterinary dental care which explains why your pet will get optimal dental care only if the procedure is done under general anesthesia.
Have I convinced you to take better care of your pet’s teeth? Watch our video on dog tooth brushing to get you started. Check out the list of Veterinary Oral Health Council approved products and choose the ones that best meet your pet’s oral health needs.
Ask a veterinarian what is one of the best smells in the world and many will answer without a moment’s hesitation: puppy breath. Hardly anyone can resist the fresh scent of a new puppy, kind of like the smell of a new car. But, as your dog grows up, he loses that delightful smell and sometimes can smell, well, a bit like a dog. Doggy smells may indicate a problem needing more than just a dog deodorant. Consider the following problems if you whiff the dog smell.
While your dog is always kissable, a bad case of hound halitosis may make you want to avoid a smooch from your pooch. Doggy breath is not normal and is a sign of tooth or gum disease. Daily brushing and special dental products can help. But your dog may need a professional cleaning to eliminate the smell. Keep in mind, bad breath has been included as one of the 10 warning signs of pet cancer. A serious case of bad breath should send you and your dog to the veterinarian’s office pronto.
First you notice your dog scratching at his head and then you catch a stench wafting from his ears. Ear infections are one of the most common reasons dogs see their veterinarian and frequently are associated with a bad smell. Flip up the ear flap. If your dog winches, has a red flap or gook coming from the ear canal, you may be dealing with an ear infection as the source of the unpleasant doggy smell. Both bacteria and yeast can be at the root of stinky ears. Your veterinarian can do testing to identify the culprit and prescribe the appropriate medication.
The anal sacs sit on the right and left sides between the layers of muscles making up the anal sphincter. Each one has a duct traveling out from the sac to the skin. Why dogs (and cats too) have this anatomic structure is somewhat of a mystery. Why about 10% of dogs have recurrent impactions and infections of the anal glands is also a mystery. There is no question however, that the smell of anal sac secretions can clear out large areas of a veterinary clinic and send the assistants running for room deodorizer. When your dog slides his rump on the floor or licks that area excessively, he may be trying to telling you he has an anal gland problem.
If your Fido is a bit fragrant don’t worry, a trip to veterinarian can have him smelling as fresh as a bunch of daisies.
Because February is National Pet Dental Health Month, I spoke to all three of The AMC’s veterinary dentists to get a list of dental DOs and DON’Ts for my readers. A big shout-out to Drs. Dan Carmichael, Django Martel and Stephen Riback for their help in compiling this list.
Dental DON’Ts – Bones, doggie breath and furry tennis balls
Our three dentists spend much of their time repairing fractured teeth. They blame hard nylon “bones” as a major cause of fractured teeth in dogs. According to Dr. Riback, “Any bone you think might break your tooth if you bit down on it is not one you should give to your dog.”
Don’t tolerate doggie breath in your dog (or cat). Bad breath in your Bassett, Bichon or Burmese is not normal and is very likely a sign of periodontal disease. Stinky breath in your pet means it’s time to schedule a dental cleaning with your pet’s veterinarian.
Although tennis balls are on your dog’s DO list, the tennis ball fur is very abrasive to teeth, making furry tennis balls a DON’T in the mind of veterinary dentists.
Dental DOs – Toothbrushing, VOHC, dental cleaning with anesthesia
Topping the list of dental DOs is daily toothbrushing for your dog and cat. If your pet won’t tolerate brushing, you can use special dental wipes to clean the teeth. DO select oral hygiene products like toothpaste, tartar reducing diets and treats based on the products recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
DO choose tartar control products and dental wipes containing hexametaphosphate, a product that research has shown to decrease tartar buildup on teeth.
The final DO is to make a call now for an appointment to see your pet’s veterinarian to discuss a complete dental cleaning while your pet is under general anesthesia.
Veterinary Dental Resources
Follow @amcny on Twitter to be a part of our National Pet Dental Health Month #TweetTooth campaign to promote healthy pet dental hygiene!