Myths abound about all aspects of pet care, but dental health, in particular, seems poorly understood. Good dental hygiene affects not only your pet’s mouth, but also her entire body and well-being, as oral bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, harming vital organs and creating painful periodontal problems. We clear up a few common myths about pet periodontal health to ensure every pet receives the best possible dental care.
#1: If my pet eats dry food, she doesn’t need any other dental care
While dry food provides some crunch to help scrape off plaque and tartar, it’s not effective enough to provide much benefit. Prescription dental diets are formulated differently than standard dry foods to ensure that the tooth sinks in up to the gumline before the kibble breaks apart, scraping away more plaque. But, while dental diets are an excellent part of a well-rounded oral-health regimen, they can’t clean below the gumline, or remove all traces of plaque and tartar.
#2: Pets naturally have stinky breath
Although it’s true that pets’ breath has a natural odor, you shouldn’t notice a foul smell coming from your pet’s mouth. Bad breath indicates that excessive oral bacteria are lurking in your pet’s mouth, which can lead to dental disease.
#3: Anesthesia-free dental cleanings are much safer for my pet
Most pet owners worry about their pets being anesthetized, but that is much safer than your pet remaining awake. During a dental cleaning, we take dental X-rays, for which your pet needs to stay completely still, in awkward positions, to allow a good image. We also clean below the gumline, which can be uncomfortable as we scale away tartar. If your pet needs extractions or other oral surgery, anesthesia provides excellent pain control and ensures your furry pal is unaware of the procedure. Without anesthesia, your pet can easily be traumatized, mentally and physically, by firm restraint, scary procedures, and sharp dental instruments. Before putting your pet under anesthesia, we perform a thorough physical exam and pre-anesthetic blood work to check organ function, and to ensure she is healthy. Based on your pet’s medical condition, we tailor an individual anesthetic protocol that is as safe as possible.
#4: Brushing my pet’s teeth is too hard
Many pets will object to an abrupt toothbrush introduction, but with patience and plenty of rewards, your furry friend will come running at the sight of a toothbrush in no time. Take each step slowly to gradually acclimate your pet to a toothbrushing routine. First, choose a pet-friendly toothpaste in a tasty flavor your pet enjoys. Squeeze a dollop on your finger, allowing your pet to lick it off. Next, gently, lift your pet’s lip, and rub your toothpaste-coated finger along her teeth, so that she can devour the tasty treat left behind on her teeth. Once your pet is comfortable with a finger brushing her teeth, switch to a toothbrush so you can reach the back molars more easily.
#5: My pet will let me know if she has a dental problem
Pets are highly skilled at hiding signs of illness and pain, and you may not realize your furry friend is silently suffering from dental disease. Many pets will still eat normally, despite loose teeth, infection, and oral pain.
#6: Only people need to visit the dentist regularly
Every species, whether furred, feathered, or scaly, needs regular dental check-ups. Here at Alpine Animal Hospital, we provide dental care for cats, dogs, horses, and a few exotic species. No matter the sort of animal you have, she likely needs professional dental care.
#7: My pet can’t eat if her teeth are pulled
Actually, your pet will likely eat better if her diseased teeth are extracted. Pets can eat canned and dry food without teeth. While we don’t like to pull every tooth, it’s necessary occasionally for some pets with severe dental disease. Rescued pets, stray animals, and pets who are genetically prone to poor dental health may need many teeth extracted to be comfortable. Soon after your pet’s dental procedure, you’ll notice a much improved appetite. We also often hear that a pet returns to her younger version, with more spunk and increased activity.
#8: My veterinarian provides all my pet’s dental care
While we do provide specialized dental services, we need your help to care for your pet’s teeth. Dental care for your pet requires a two-pronged approach—home care and professional care. Daily at-home care, including toothbrushing, treats, chews, wipes, rinses, and supplements, is a vital component of your pet’s dental-hygiene plan.
Are you ready to put an end to dental-care myths, and take care of your pet’s oral health? Give us a call to schedule a dental check-up for your furry friend.