I’m sure the majority of you are well aware about the importance of good dental health, but have you ever thought how important good dental health is in your pets? Just as in humans, the mouths of your pets are teeming with bacteria, and some of those bacteria can enter the digestive tract, respiratory tract, and bloodstream, and cause disease, particularly in the heart, lung, and kidneys.
Another factor to consider in our pets is the fact that we have domesticated these animals over the millenia, and as a result, they no longer depend on hunting to procure their food. This means that the natural form of teeth cleaning, in essence, gnawing and tearing at the flesh of their prey, has, for the most part, been eliminated, and replaced with dry kibble and canned foods. Eighty percent of pet dogs and cats who have had no dental cleaning or intervention show signs of oral disease by the time they are 3 years old.
I take all of this very seriously with my pets, and I am diligent about taking them in every six months for non-anesthetic dental cleaning. It’s worth the financial expense, even though I struggle to pay for their dental care twice a year. The way I see it, I’d rather take them in for regular dental cleaning than to put them at risk for a myriad of diseases, and have them suffer needlessly as a result. I’ve been taking them in for regular cleanings from the time they were young adults, and they have had mild issues with no need for a more aggressive cleaning with anesthetic. I realize that they may at some point need cleaning under anesthesia, but until we cross that bridge, I will continue to take them in for the anesthesia-free option.
There are definitely some limitations with non-anesthetic teeth cleaning for pets, such as the fact that only the plaque above the gum line can be removed. The veterinarian examines the pet’s teeth and gums to determine if there is any inflammation or sign of infection, and if there are any findings which are beyond the scope of the non-anesthetic cleaning crew, the pet is referred for cleaning with anesthesia.
Overall, if you aren’t paying attention to your pet’s teeth and gums, you should. It’s a good idea to ask your veterinarian at your next visit what he or she recommends in the way of dental care. There are dental chews which help to clean the teeth, and some very brave pet owners actually brush their pet’s teeth. Your vet will help determine the best care regimen for your beloved pet.