Pet Talk: Bad breath can equal poor dental health for your pet
Are you noticing that Rover has had some bad breath lately? Or does your cat, Riva, have some very red looking gums? Did you know that pets need routine dental care just like their owners?
We, as veterinarians, are very passionate about dog and cat dental health because we have seen the health consequences of poor dental care. Poor dental care can result in abscessing teeth, bone and sinus infections and systemic infections spreading to your pet’s organs. All of these health concerns can be prevented just with annual dental care.
What does that involve? Schedule an annual examination with your veterinarian. At that time, have your veterinarian look at the teeth and gums for signs of decay, infection and fractures, as well as oral cancers. Should your veterinarian think it is then necessary, schedule a routine dental prophylaxis and polishing.
During this scheduled visit, ask to have dental radiographs taken, just as you do at your routine visits. With the onset of digital technology in human and veterinary medicine, some very quick, easy and accurate radiographs can be taken which now show oral pathology, long before it’s seen on the outside.
Putting Your Pet Under
So, you ask, do you have to have to put my pet under anesthesia do perform quality dentistry?
The answer is yes, but we can vary the level of sedation based on the health, age and mentation of the pet. To properly probe, examine, clean and X-ray the teeth, the pet will need some level of sedation. During the cleaning process, many bacteria combined with water are floating around the mouth, and with sedation, we can provide proper intubation of the pet so the particles do not go into the airways and cause life-threatening disease.
What if my pet does have a bad tooth? The answer is that we have many remedies, including enamel repair, root canals and extractions for the teeth we cannot save and long-acting antibiotic treatments for the gums.
Still have questions? Please call your veterinarian today to schedule your pet’s dental exam and get on the road to preventative dental care to help your pet live a longer and happier life.
Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, owner of Mountain Mobile Vet and The Animal Hospital Center, submitted this column. You can reach her at 970-328-7085.