February is Pet Dental Health Month!

toothbrush doggiesVeterinary Dentistry has come a long way in the last 20 years.  We now know that our pet’s oral health is an integral part of their overall wellness.   To raise awareness of the importance of dental care for your pet, Rivertown Animal Hospital is offering 10 percent off of the cost of a dental procedure booked during the month of February. Click here for details.

Does your pet have a smelly mouth?   If your dog or cat has bad breath, brown stains or calculus on the teeth and inflamed gums, this could very well be an indication of a serious infection in the mouth called periodontal disease. Periodontal disease affects 80 percent of our pets at one time or another.  Often this means they are at risk of systemic infection in the kidneys, heart and liver, not to mention severe discomfort and pain. Often broken or fractured teeth can lead to abscesses or an infection involving the roots of the teeth. An infected mouth is a painful mouth!

The best way to find out if your pet needs dental care is to see a veterinarian who has training and experience in treating dental disease in pets.  The first question to ask is, do they have dental x-ray?  If they don’t they will miss 90 percent of what may be going on in your pet’s mouth.  If you are going to have a pet’s teeth cleaned, evaluated and treated for dental disease they will require general anesthesia. This is a very safe procedure if your veterinarian is taking all the safety precautions; this includes a thorough physical exam, preanesthetic blood screening, IV catheter and fluids, blood pressure and anesthesia monitoring, patient warming and good pain control.   If your pet is having a dental procedure, dental radiographs are essential. No extraction should be performed without x-rays.

The first step to a healthy mouth starts with prevention.  This is the best way for your pet to avoid the loss of teeth and experiencing the pain of dental disease. Start getting your pet used to brushing at an early age.  Nothing substitutes for good home care.  Daily brushing with a pet toothpaste is recommended. If you can thoroughly brush your pets mouth three or more times a week, you will see  significant benefist including whiter teeth, fresher breath and a healthier mouth.  Other tools  available include: special diets, rinses, chews and gels.  Only use products that are made for pets.  Fluoride pastes are unhealthy for pets and should not be ingested.

The next step is having your pet periodically evaluated by your veterinarian for dental disease.  This usually happens at the time of your annual or semi-annual exams.  If a recommendation for a dental cleaning is made, don’t put it off.  We can reverse gingivitis, but we can’t reverse periodontal disease once it sets in.

Rivertown Animal Hospital has long been known for excellence in veterinary dental care.  We were among the first veterinary hospitals to have dental x-ray and our doctors have received extensive training in veterinary dentistry.  Should your pet require a root canal or a specialized dental procedure, we have a close association with several  board certified veterinary dentists.

If you have questions regarding your pet’s dental health give us a call today or visit our Dental page by clicking here.

-Dr. Ginger Garlie