I grew up in a time when veterinary care for your dog meant getting a rabies “shot” and that was about it! We didn’t give heartworm prevention or flea/ tick prevention. We certainly didn’t spay or neuter our pets and if someone had mentioned brushing our dog’s teeth, they would have been laughed out of the neighborhood. Veterinary care has come a long way since then and so have my ideas about what is best for a long, healthy and happy life for my pets and dental care is way at the top.
I never realized just how connected oral care, or your pet’s oral care, is to the entire health of the body. Who would ever link kidney disease or heart disease to how clean your teeth are? And let’s face it, most of us would never know our pet had tooth pain if it depended on whether or not they would eat that tasty biscuit you were giving them. They mask pain so well, a defense mechanism ingrained in their DNA. The health of a pet’s mouth is just as important as their heart, liver, or anything else vital in a pet’s body.
It isn’t just clean teeth either! Pet teeth are a lot like ice bergs, you only see the tip and there is so much more hidden below the gum line. That is why I am a big advocate for dental radiographs. It is the only way to see if there are hidden problems that need to be addressed. Teeth can degrade under the gum line while the part you see looks normal. Little pockets of infection can sit deep in the mandible. Bone erosion, cancer, and so many other life threatening problems can be found with a few simple radiographs. So why would you not do them?
And of course there is the “dog breath” issue. Nothing like coming face to face with a pet whose mouth smells like they have been eating out of the local dump for the past few years. That smell is bacteria. Nasty bacteria that will go straight down the throat and into the blood stream and into places like the pet’s heart and kidneys. Not the best place to have bacteria. So that bad breath is not just part of the pet, it mean something significant!
So when your pet’s Veterinarian suggests dental care for your pet, please take it very seriously, because we do, and your pet would too.