Imagine what your teeth would look like after years of not brushing. It’s not a pleasant visual but is a reality for our pets. Dental disease is an issue that can often go over looked. It’s common for humans not to consider their pets’ teeth like they do their own. However, the risks involved when our furry companions’ teeth go un-cared for can be very serious. Periodontal disease can lead to infection of the blood causing heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease. It can also lead to infection of the mouth, making it very painful for our pets to chew.
If dental disease is diagnosed by a veterinarian, your pet will have to undergo anesthesia and a dental cleaning with possible tooth extractions, depending on the severity. As one can imagine, the bill for a procedure like this can be very costly, but is crucial to your beloved cat or dog’s health. Dr. Mekler, Veterinarian at Boston Veterinary Care, warns us that, “Dental disease can allow bacteria to get under the gum line, which can cause a sinus abscess. When this occurs it can be an emergency situation. When it comes to the gums, red means pain!” Luckily there are many steps we as owners can take in order to prevent periodontal disease.
Dr. Davis, Veterinarian at Boston Veterinary Care, shares some advice on helping to prevent dental disease. “Brush your pet’s teeth! T/D does work.” (T/D stands for “tooth diet” and is a prescription brand of food by Hills Science Diet made specifically to help control the tartar that builds on the teeth). Dr. Davis adds that, “At this point water additives have not proven to be effective – but are undergoing clinical trials. The best way to maintain good health and avoid periodontal disease is to brush routinely. The recommended amount of brushing is every day- and at the very least, every 48 hours. Brushing any less than every 48 hours is not effective.”
For some pets, brushing their teeth may be a challenge. Dr. Mekler suggests slowly introducing brushing. This is a life time prevention and if it takes months to get your pet comfortable with it, that’s okay! Some ways to go about this are simply finding a pet tooth paste that your pet enjoys and considers a treat. Start by getting your pet used to having their teeth touched and use your finger as the tooth brush. As your pet gets used to this, you can then begin to introduce a tooth brush. You can find one at your local pet store or veterinary clinic. For our treat motivated pets, you can also incorporate a reward to help make this process easier and fun for your pet!
If you think your pet suffers from dental disease, you should see a veterinarian immediately. If your pets’ teeth are not yet a problem, then it’s important to keep them that way. Most importantly, Dr. Shophet of Boston Veterinary care reminds us to “Brush, brush, brush!”
So you’ve made a New Year’s Resolution for yourself, but have you thought about making a resolution specific to your pet? Here are 7 resolutions for pet lovers for 2013, because our four-legged companions always deserve a little more love! Take a minute to read through these and tell us which one you’re choosing for your New Year’s Resolution.
- Spend more time with your pet. Your cat or dog wants to be with you! After you’ve been at work all day, they can’t wait to see you! Pledge to spend an extra ten minutes with your pet every day. Get up ten minutes early and play with your cat or extend your dog’s walk by 10 more minutes or just take a few extra minutes to snuggle with your pup and scratch him behind the ear when you get home from work.
- Microchip your pet. We strongly recommend micro-chipping your pet. A microchip is an electronic device placed under the skin of an animal. The chips are about the size of a grain of rice and emit a low-frequency radio wave when detected by a special scanner. Pet microchips aren’t a tracking or GPS device but simply a way of storing a pet owner’s address and phone number if the pet is lost. For more information about pet microchips contact your vet, local animal shelter or Animal Control Officer. HomeAgain, a microchip and pet recovery service, is responsible for reuniting more than 1,000,000 lost pets with their owners.
- Bring your pet to the vet. The League‘s very own Dr. Martha Smith-Blackmore, DVM says “a checkup with your veterinarian can help you determine how healthy your dog is…. even healthy looking dogs can have hidden problems.” Take your pet to the vet at least once a year to keep vaccinations current, get heart-worm prevention renewed and make sure your pet is healthy.
- Take better care of your pet’s teeth. Dental Disease affects dogs and cats, just as it does humans. There are several ways to prevent dental disease in your pets. Give them treats that clean teeth. Brush their teeth on a regular basis, if you can’t use a toothbrush, use your finger and apply special toothpaste as suggested by your vet. If tartar buildup occurs, your pet’s teeth should be professionally cleaned by your veterinarian.
- Give your pet the proper nutrition. Poor nutrition can lead to poor health. There are many great dog food brands out there. Tell your vet what type of food you’re looking for, holistic, organic, all-natural, dental, weight control, etc… and ask your vet what brands s/he would recommend. An unbalanced diet can result in poor skin, hair coat, muscle tone, and obesity.
- Put an end to your pet’s behavioral problems. If your dog is misbehaving or if you want to teach him basic commands, enroll him in a dog training class. Dog training classes start at our Boston Headquarters on January 5. We offer a 10% discount to BVC clients and a 50% discount to ARL Alums!
- Allow your pet more opportunities to exercise. Most animals like to play, so find an activity that you both enjoy and go for it. Exercise is good for your pet and you! If your dog likes to run, try jogging a few times a week. If your dog likes to play fetch take him to the park and throw a ball around. For cats, try finding a toy that they like to chase.