Freshen Your Furry Friend’s Kisses

By Dr. Lindsay Lane, Managing Veterinarian

Let’s all just go ahead and admit that we have received those loving, yet usually unwanted stray kisses right to the face or the mouth! I don’t mean to alarm you, but have you thought about what grows in those mouths? Not to mention the smell that follows! Now typically, a bad smell doesn’t lead to anything good, and the same is true for your dog’s/cat’s mouths. Bacteria can grow on plaque and tartar that accumulates overtime, which can lead to dental disease, tooth decay and even bone loss in severe cases. 

Your pet’s teeth don’t have any stronger enamel than what is present on ours. A common myth that I often hear is that dogs in particular can chew on hard bones because they have harder teeth. This is very far from the truth, and a lot of times we see dogs for dental disease because they are hard chewers and actually crack that enamel or break the tooth which can advance dental disease, resulting in a tooth that has to be pulled. Dental disease can develop from several causes including inadequate dental care, trauma or concurrent illnesses (diabetes, cushings, cancer etc). It can start with just that heavy yellowish, thick, chunky tartar present on their teeth, along the gumline. Sometimes your pet can also develop secondary gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums because there is excessive plaque/tartar. In these pets it is not uncommon to find blood in their mouths, pain, refusing to eat, or sometimes even avoiding chewing on that side of their mouth. All of these conditions can be very painful/uncomfortable for your pet. 

Now an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right? So the best recommendation to help minimize and prevent some of these dental conditions is brushing. So let’s all go and brush our pet’s teeth every day! Now that you all have stopped chuckling (myself included) we can be real; I do have those clients who religiously brush their pets’ teeth, and I’ll be honest, it shows!! BUT, we can also admit that it likely is not going to happen for the majority of us. So what are we left to do!? Well, you can brush as often as you can, with a dog/cat approved product (not your Sensodyne or Aquafresh), there are also water additives (Oxyfresh) which aid in the enzymatic cleaning of your pets’ teeth as well. I believe products like these tend to work best when you are working with a “clean slate”, ie a freshly cleaned mouth! You can also use dental chews (Greenies, CET chews, the Milkbone dental chews etc), but again, I am a firm believer that most of these products do work, but work BEST on a clean mouth, mainly to help prolong the life of a dental cleaning! So, the final and honestly best thing you can provide your pet for their dental health is a dental cleaning! This is recommended under anesthesia so that a full and comprehensive oral exam can be done, and each tooth evaluated for gum recession, tooth/root decay, fractures, retained baby teeth, etc! 

Most veterinarians provide anesthetic services/dental cleanings, and what better time than the new year to get your pet feeling and SMELLING their best when they give you those warm, wet, and now hopefully fresh smelling kisses! Talk to your veterinarian today to discuss what would be best for your dog or cat and their dental health. 

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