When is it OK to start a dental program for my pet?

Orlando, Florida – This is a common question heard around Veterinary Clinics all around the United States. The simple answer: It is never too early to start focusing on your pet’s dental health. Periodontal disease is the most common health related condition in dogs. Close to 80% of adult pets suffer from it in some level. In pets, as in humans, periodontal disease is the result of accumulated plaque around a tooth. If untreated, this plaque will solidify into what is commonly called tartar, to the point that it forces the gum to separate from the tooth. This creates pockets in which bacteria not only builds up, but strives creating an infectious reaction in the affected area. This causes discomfort, swelling of the gum line, bad breath among other symptoms. In addition, the bacteria grows at such rate that it needs to “go somewhere”, and in most cases it will get into the blood stream, becoming the cause of disease in vital organs such as the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys. (Yes, it is serious!)

The good news is that there is an entire sector of the animal health industry dedicated exclusively to helping responsible owners maintain good dental health on their pets. At this point there is a service, a product or a combination of both to meet every pet’s need and every client’s budget. The first step in this process should be to consult with your veterinarian and ask questions regarding your pet’s oral hygiene. Your vet will indicate if there are any signs of disease and will create a dental plan that meets your pet’s needs.

The solution may be easier that you think. There are diets, treats, water additives, toys, wax, paste, tooth brushes, finger brushes and many other products that may assist you in the care of your pet’s mouth. Most of these are safe and easy to use in pets of all sizes and ages. At some point your Veterinarian might recommend a dental cleaning. This procedure will take place in clinic, and is very similar to what you are used too in a cleaning visit to your dentist. Because of the novelty and the inability of most of our pets to stay calm during this process, this will require putting your furry friend under anesthesia. Veterinarians are excellent at taking the necessary precautions in order to make this process very safe, including pre-anesthesia blood work and the use of monitoring equipment.

Maintaining a healthy mouth is a necessity, but it should not be a difficult process. Talk to your Veterinarian, and together come up with a plan that best fits your pet’s needs and your lifestyle. A good Dental Care Plan, including annual veterinary examinations will add many years to your pet’s teeth and will lower the risk of more serious health issues in the long run. And remember, any day, maybe even today, is a great day to start focusing on your pet’s dental health.

Keep them Smiling!