Can you imagine what your teeth would look or feel like if you never brushed them? Unfortunately, that is the case for most dogs and cats, eventually developing painful dental disease.
Eight-year-old Schnauzer, Reagan, is accustomed to having his teeth brushed by mom, Kristen Orndeff, yet this pooch is still battling periodontal disease.
Veterinarian Dr. Michelle Traylor at Southside Animal Hospital in Lake Charles says the oral health of animals is typically neglected by pet owners. "The first thing that dogs get on their teeth is a build-up of plaque and this can proceed to more serious plaque. This is why we need to brush every day to make sure that doesn't build up," said Dr. Traylor.
Dogs and cats need to have their teeth brushed daily. Not doing so can yield problems like Reagan and his sibling have today. "Both of them had severe plaque build-up and so we hadn't really done a good job brushing their teeth," said Orndeff.
You might think that it is normal for your dog or cat to have stinky breath, but that is not the case and is typically a sign of a lot of bacteria inside the mouth. The best way to get the oral health back on track is to brush the teeth and do oral rinses at home. "Their first check-up really should be around one year of age," said Dr. Traylor, "at that point we can count all of the teeth, make sure they're all present."
A full mouth exam and cleaning is done under anesthesia. X-rays are taken and each tooth is examined, cleaned and polished.
Diagnosing and treating dental problems can change the personality of a cranky cat or pesky pooch. That was the case for a cat that Dr. Traylor recently treated. "We can see that this cat had very red inflamed gums surrounding the teeth," she said.
"Stomatitis" is a common condition in cats, where they are painfully allergic to plaque. Without diagnosing the dental problems in cats and dogs, your furry friends will be living in pain, unable to express what is going on in their mouths.
That is why Reagan's family is going to be firm about daily cleanings and yearly dental exams with the vet. "We've made it kind of a new part of our routine to try to brush at night," said Orndeff, "so when we give the kids a bath, the dogs usually have a teeth brushing at that time as well."
There are also a couple of dog foods on the market to help reduce plaque and tartar by Purina and Science Diet.
If your dog or cat is due for a dental exam, Southside Animal Hospital is offering it for free to the first 100 people to make the appointment. Just call 337-564-6502 to schedule your pet's exam.