Caring for your pet’s teeth not always easy, but vital

A Pomeranian receives a routine dental examination — scaling, checking for cavities and deep pockets along gum lines. February is National Pet Dental Health Month.



As I approached the front door, a deep, raspy “woof woof” indicated my presence before I rang the doorbell.

Expecting a large breed from the raucous sound of the bark, I was amazed to see the rotund, elongated body of the 18-pound dachshund. His little, pencil thin tail beat with rhythmic furry as he vibrantly sniffed my feet.

Bending down to greet my newfound friend, I was instantly bathed with wet kisses. The the overwhelming stench coming from this little guy’s mouth filled my nostrils and caused my eyes to water.

The routine physical examination by the veterinarian revealed a healthy, happy 8-year-old dog except for the malicious odor coming from his mouth. A closer evaluation determined the source of the smell was derived from an infection caused from a fractured tooth. The severity of the fracture and location of the tooth required anesthetizing the dog to adequately perform the extraction.

Once the dachshund was under anesthesia, the veterinarian was able to perform a complete dental examination. During the procedure, I was amazed to observe tiny hairs being plucked out of deep pockets along his gum lines. Large chunks of brown tarter that had accumulated over the years were scaled off and the final polishing resulted in pearly, white teeth.

As the little dachshund came out of anesthesia, his dark, brown eyes revealed instant gratification and you could almost see the smile on his face.

February has been established as National Pet Dental Health Month to promote the importance of good dental hygiene. Many veterinarians showcase the month to educate pet owners on the benefits of proper dental care for their pets.

Most of us know the significance of regular dental checkups to ensure beneficial health for ourselves. As responsible pet owners, it is equally imperative to realize the importance of proper dental hygiene for pets.

Periodontal disease, a deep infection around the tooth roots, can occur when oral bacteria begin to invade soft gum tissue causing attachment loss and deep pockets around the teeth. A foul odor coming from your pet’s mouth is your first warning of a possible developing issue that requires immediate evaluation. If not treated, this malady can lead to a painful mouth infection that has the potential to spread to other parts of the body resulting in further complications.

Most creatures use their mouths for eating and drinking. Dogs and cats, however, use their mouths for numerous other functions.

Our canine friends often require particular objects to chew on for self-satisfaction. Bones, toys, balls, rocks, even your favorite leather shoes are some items they may deem necessary to gnaw on.

Cats spend ridiculous amounts of time making sure each hair on their small bodies is immaculately cleaned and in its proper position. Small particles of debris from chewing, licking and grooming inevitably settle into pockets in the gum lines.

While many people find it difficult to brush their pet’s teeth daily, this is your best recourse to maintain healthy oral hygiene. Have fun getting the toothbrush in the cat’s mouth!

Routine dental checkups for your pet typically include scaling tartar build-up and checking for cavities and deep pockets along the gum lines that can encourage bacteria development. More extensive dental procedures for pets, such as extractions and polishing, require anesthesia because most animals will not “open wide” for the examination.

Consult with your veterinarian on the risks involved with anesthesia. Many dental procedures can be done by means of a light anesthesia with limited risks no matter the age of the animal.

Proper dental care is an integral component to maintaining your pet’s good health. Routine veterinary exams will detect small issues that can be easily treated before they become big problems.

While February has been established to educate pet owners on beneficial dental health, keep your pet healthy by maintaining proper dental practices all year long.

Charlé Thibodeau is a veterinary technician for Aspentree Veterinary Care. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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