Monday, May. 14th 2018

Dental Disease and Tooth Care in Pets

Events: We still plan to have our canine massage therapist in our office May 18 but we will have to cancel if we can’t fill up her appointment slots.  Massage is very beneficial to all pets, but our older dogs with joint stiffness and lameness can particularly benefit.  Plus, most of them love the attention!  Call us at 816-331-1868 to get your dog scheduled.

Dr Leonard is out of the office in the afternoons Friday, May 11 and 18.  She will be out of the office all day the Fridays of June 1, 15, and 29.  We will be open 9-3 on those days if you need to make a purchase or are calling to schedule an appointment. If you want a prescription refill to be picked up on those days, please call a day in advance so Dr Leonard can verify the refill. 

Congratulations to our Veterinary Technician student Bailey for successful completion of her first year of Vet Tech school!  She will be able to work longer hours with us this summer to continue her training, and was lucky enough to be chosen to go to Ecuador for a veterinary relief trip in July as well.  As she increases her skills, we’ll be scheduling some appointments for her to handle if they don’t need a veterinary examination.  This will include nail trims, anal glands, and heartworm tests.  She’ll also be starting to do more of our blood draws and administration of vaccinations.  This will free up Dr Leonard’s time to see more patients.

Dental Disease and Tooth care in pets:

Many pet owners realize that our pets get bad breath when they have tartar buildup on their teeth. That’s the gray-brown crusty stuff on the outsides of their teeth, especially seen on the big tearing teeth in the back.  However, bad breath is the least of our concerns when it comes to dental health.  That tartar is a calcified buildup of plaque and bacteria.  This buildup can cause inflammation of the gums, causing them to look red, swell, and sometimes bleed. This is called Dental Disease. When gums bleed, that bacteria right next to them can then enter the bloodstream.  This can affect the liver and heart and causes a strain on the immune system trying to keep that bacteria under control.  Over time, your pet can feel run-down and unhealthy, not to mention having pain in its mouth.  Some may even develop serious infections that can be life-threatening.

Many pet owners think the only way to deal with this threat to health is to have their pet anesthetized every year or so to have this tartar removed and the teeth polished.  At Whole Health Pet Center, our preference would be to keep the teeth healthy and tartar-free life-long.  But how can that be accomplished?

There are several ways to prevent tartar buildup. 

First, many pet owners who feed raw foods and raw bones have found that the teeth stay sparkling white on this type of diet.  It is a myth that dry food and crunchy treats will keep teeth clean.  Imagine if you never brushed your teeth but ate some crackers every day.  Obviously, your teeth would soon need attention!  However, raw foods contain enzymes that assist in keeping teeth clean, and chewing (and consuming) raw bones can do wonders to maintain clean teeth.  Our freezer is stocked with several sizes of marrow bones if we determine this is a good choice for your pet.

Unfortunately, not every pet should be given bones.   Some just don’t have the sense to not swallow large pieces which can lead to blockages or GI upset. Some pets or their families may have health issues that make raw a poor choice.

The second-best way to keep a pet’s teeth clean is regular brushing.  Luckily, few pets need to have the inside surfaces of their teeth brushed as these areas rarely build tartar.  So, with patient training and lots of treats, you can teach your dog or cat to enjoy having you brush their teeth several times a week, or even daily.  Pet-specific toothbrushes are sized and shaped better for a pet’s mouth. Always use a pet toothpaste as people-toothpaste may include toxic ingredients like artificial sweeteners or fluoride.  We are happy to offer training tips to assist you in learning how to brush your pet’s teeth, and we sell enzyme pet toothpaste and several sizes of toothbrushes.

Finally, a third option if the previous two just aren’t appropriate for your family is to daily administer a product designed to slow or reverse plaque formation.  We offer several, from VetzLife Oral Spray and Periosupport powder to 1-TDC capsules for gingivitis.  These can be used individually or in combination depending on the needs of your pet.  We’re happy to discuss these options with you if you have questios.

If your pet already has significant oral disease, it may be that a professional cleaning under anesthesia is in order.  But if you make a commitment to daily oral care following that procedure, maybe we can make that the last cleaning under anesthesia that your pet needs.  Be sure to talk to us about oral care at your next visit!


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Whole Health Pet Center
18011 E St. Rte 58
Raymore, MO 64083
816-331-1868

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