What does a scientist’s dog do with bones? Barium.
If you didn’t laugh at that, shame on you. February is a two-for-one awareness month with National Children’s Dental Health Month and you guessed it, National Pet Dental Health Month. While we focus on treating our pediatric population, our little kitties’ dental health should be assessed too. As reported by the American Veterinary Medical Association, “80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some kind of oral disease by the age of 3.”
President of the California Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Jeff Smith, states, “Oral disease can lead to serious consequences for pets, including infection, severe pain and even organ damage.” Regular routine dental health maintenance and exams can prevent these problems from arising.
The oral health disparities that we face including gingivitis and periodontal disease can plague our pawed friends too. It is advised that regular veterinary visits are planned for our pets to not only assess overall health, but to have dental cleanings as well. Yes, dogs can develop visible calculus and yes, they may need to be professional removed by scaling. Veterinarians will also complete a thorough oral exam including checking their inner lips, tongue, and gums. Some vets will also take radiographs to determine if any underlying diseases exits below the gum line. Who would have thought dogs and cats need the same dental care like humans do?
One important recommendation by the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry is to be cautious of groomers or pet salons who perform “non-anesthetic dental scaling” or “dental work” as they are not adequately trained to do so. Just as how dentists are trained to perform dental treatment to the public, veterinarians are the professionals for animals. Teeth cleaning with scalers can be traumatic to a pet and their oral cavity. Trauma to the gingiva, teeth and stress to the animal can be detrimental. It is highly advised that trained veterinarians perform such cleanings.
After a visit to the pet dentist, make sure to brush your pet’s teeth daily with a soft-bristled toothbrush to remove any food debris and prevent build up of calculus deposits. If using toothpaste, make sure it is a formula specially made for use on pets. President Dr. Brook A. Niemic of the Academy of Veterinary Dentistry states that “only about 1% of pet owners brush their pets teeth.” Brushing your canine’s or feline’s teeth can prevent oral diseases and bad breath. Pets are our friends, and friends don’t let friends walk around with bad breath.
So next time you let your dog lick your face or see your cat cough up a hairball, be sure their dental health is in check, or head to your local veterinarian for an oral exam. Nothing feels better than a clean mouth and great smelling breath.
~Jay Banez, Marquette ’16, electronic editor