Dr. Jeff Dand at Cadboro Bay Veterinary Clinic can teach you ways to clean your dog’s teeth (and your cat’s) at home as a way to help your pet stay healthier and happier.

Your pet’s bad breath could be a sign of bigger problems

Regular home cleanings can reduce need for extensive dental work, says Dr. Jeff Dand

You’re probably accustomed to dental checkups and teeth cleaning as a regular part of your oral hygiene.

But have you ever stopped to think about how such care and treatment could help your dog or cat stay healthier longer?

As Dr. Jeff Dand at Cadboro Bay Veterinary Clinic points out, regular care of your pet’s mouth holds many health benefits for our furry friends. Not only that, periodic mouth examinations by a trained professional – including x-rays where needed – can locate problems that, if left unchecked, can lead to a lot of pain and even heart disease.

“Most dogs and cats, by the age of three or four, have some dental disease,” he says. “We don’t see a lot of them until the mouth really smells or the owner sees there’s something wrong. We’re doing some major dental extractions many times, when in fact we want to be able to focus on preventing dental disease.”

Prevention allows for a shorter anesthetic time, he adds, and can prevent dental pain from starting.

Animals can be suffering in silence

You might not immediately be aware of dental problems in your pet, especially if they continue to eat. But dogs and cats are adept at chewing away from the painful area and can mask their discomfort. “Cats can sometimes hide their pain more than dogs,” Dr. Dand says.

He and his fellow vets and staff at the clinic are happy to teach you ways to clean your pet’s teeth at home on a regular basis, so there isn’t a need to anesthetize them for long periods when the time comes to bring them in for a professional cleaning and x-rays.

And while some pet owners worried in past about the safety risks of anesthesia, he says, the clinic staff use a lot of the same equipment human hospitals use during surgeries, such as IV fluids, heart and blood pressure monitors, patient warming pumps and a nurse monitoring the patient at all times.

Other ways to help ensure your pet enjoys good dental health:

  • Dental food and crunchy treats are good for removing plaque on teeth, but it’s also good to feed your pet a combination of both hard food and soft
  • With cats, make sure there is always fresh water on hand and chews, which help produce saliva, the animal’s best defence against bacteria and food building up in the mouth
  • Choose to have a dental exam done on your pet, as results can reveal hidden conditions such as periodontal disease, cavities, resorptive lesions that eat away at a tooth, and fractures, all of which can cause pain
  • Learn and practise regular brushing

“There’s tricks for how to hold your pet while cleaning their teeth, and at first it can feel awkward,” Dr. Dand says. “But with easy training from your veterinarian you can get some really good techniques for brushing. If it’s easy to do, you’re going to do it and they’ll have fresh breath and a healthy mouth.”

To book an appointment, call 250-477-9061 or email info@cadbayvet.ca.

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