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BB's Nine Lives List
BB came to live with us in January 2011. She is one of our resident mascots and greeters. Check back frequently for her Nine Lives List. She will be imparting her veterinary wisdom to help your pet live a longer, happier, healthier life.
9 Ways To Beat Bad Breath
Many pet owners tend to overlook their pet's bad breath, dismissing it as normal. In fact, bad breath, along with red and inflamed gums are warning signs that your dog or cat may be developing periodontal disease. When it comes to the importance of your pet's dental hygiene, it goes way beyond a pretty smile. Good dental health contributes to their overall health of the heart, liver, kidneys, as well as their physical comfort. Periodontal disease is a serious and painful condition, causing sensitivity with eating, drinking, playing and socializing with family members. Let's get to the root of the problem and walk through 9 steps to help your pet keep a healthy smile!
1. Beware of Bad Breath - Your dog or cat's breath is not meant to knock your socks off! Smelly breath usually indicates dental disease. Periodontal disease affects at least 80% of dogs and 70% of cats, 3 years of age and older. Halitosis is one of the results of bacterial build-up, inflammation and infection.
2. Lift the Lip - One simple step to visualize your pet's tartar build-up, is to lift up their lip and look at the gums and teeth. It is best to check the teeth starting at a young age or just after a dental cleaning so you can easily evaluate the condition. Teeth will begin to look yellow or brownish if tartar is accumulating. Gums will appear red or swollen if gingivitis is present.
3. Yearly Dental Evaluations - It is recommended your pet's oral health should be assessed by a veterinarian every 6 to 12 months. Bad breath or gingival inflammation can be the result of a more serious oral issue. Problems such as tooth abscesses, oral tumors and periodontal disease can hide quite well. A thorough exam by your veterinarian will uncover most of these conditions. Early detection and treatment will benefit your pet greatly!
4. What We Can't See Can Hurt Them - What is visible at the gum line and crown of the tooth is most often not the entire problem. Dental x-rays provide your veterinarian with the whole picture of the tooth root and jaw bone. Retained teeth and roots, pockets of infection, resorption and bone decay will be evident. Evaluating the entire condition will allow for a full and complete treatment of your pet's oral needs.
5. Chew On this - A fun step in good oral care is providing safe edible chews or dental toys. These help scrape tartar off the teeth as well as provide hours of entertainment. Prescription food and treats specifically formulated for the removal of tartar are very beneficial as well. you can ask your veterinarian about these!
6. Cat's Too - Cats need attention to their teeth just as much as our canine friends, if not more. Cats typically do not chew as frequently as dogs, therefore building up tartar easily. Cats are also prone to specific conditions, Feline Stomatitis and tooth resorption. These diseases are very painful, with severe inflammation of the gum line and generalized oral cavity and lesions at neck of tooth crown. Pain medication, ant-inflammatories, antibiotics and regular dental cleanings are necessary to manage it. Frequent oral exams may be required to monitor your kitty's condition.
7. You Brush Yours, Now Brush Theirs? - For those pets that do not chew much, brushing their teeth on a regular basis will be beneficial! Brushing your dog or cat's teeth may not be as difficult as you might imagine. Acclimate them slowly and keep it fun! Be certain to use only pet formulated tooth paste, as the human paste can upset their stomach. Check out this step by step instruction video for additional help. Brushing Teeth Instruction Video
8. Pets Need Dentals Too - Dental cleanings will repair and remove existing tartar build-up, helping prevent and reverse your dog and cat's dental disease. If periodontal disease is left untreated it will become a seriously painful condition, resulting in tooth loss, bone decay and organ damage. Ultra-sonic scaling and polishing will remove tartar from the crown as well as under the edge of the gum line, reversing existing gingivitis and whitening the teeth to a new brightness. Loose or infected teeth will be surgically extracted, providing renewed comfort for your dog and cat. A detailed plan for continued oral healthcare will be provided once the dental procedure is complete.
9. Subtle Signs - Animals are very good at hiding illness. Oral issues are no different. Any changes in your pet's behavior should not be ignored. Common signs related to dental disease are lack of usual interest in chewing toys, decreased socialization with other pets and family members, chewing on only one side of their mouth or frequently dropping food while eating. Any changes in their activity level or amount of food or water consumed may also indicate a problem. Obvious signs of discomfort such as pawing at their mouth, drooling or blood seen are more reasons to see your veterinarian right away.