Pet Dental Health Month

Pet Dental Health Month

February is pet dental health awareness month.

This episode of Vet Chat with Dr.Ryan Llera, we share a veterinarian’s insight and a pet owner’s experience of maintaining our pets dental health.

 

A veterinarian’s insight into pet dental health:

Dr. Ryan Llera explains the importance of dental health in our pets.

Dental health is one of the most overlooked and under treated conditions involving pet health. Yet, it can have some of the biggest implications. Pet owners may notice it when they smell bad breath or in more advanced stages, if the pet has problems eating. Sometimes this pain is due to loose or broken teeth. In cats particularly, we can see what is called a feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions, or FORLs. These FORLs are the closest cats get to actual cavities. With both dogs & cats, we can see abscesses develop at the tooth roots which aside from infection, if found in the lower jaw, can actually cause the bone to break if it weakens in just the right spot.

As dental disease progresses, larger issues can come into play from the standpoint of infectious diseases. Bacteria in the mouth (they’re the actual cause of the smell) spread through the bloodstream and can affect organs such as the liver, heart, & kidneys. This leads to some significant illnesses that may require hospitalization, or in the worst cases, organ failure.

Fortunately for your pet, you can help manage this vital part of their health starting at an early age. Daily tooth brushing with enzymatic pet toothpaste is the most ideal. Another consideration is dental diets from your veterinarian. These diets are different in that their makeup prevents them from crumbling as easily as other diet and therefore scrapes the teeth as they eat. How much simpler can it get?! Through proper maintenance, cleanings under an anesthetic may be kept to a minimum over the years and your pet can have a great smile!

The pet owners experience: 

My personal experience maintaining dental health in my cat.

I’m experiencing first hand the benefits of maintaining my pet’s mouth and dental health. However, my cat Lily is experiencing the after effects of keeping her mouth and teeth healthy.

My cat Lily is 14 years old. When I think back to when Lily fist came into our home I don’t recall reading or hearing much about the importance of brushing your pets teeth. I assumed if my cats were eating dry food it would be enough to scrap the tartar from their teeth. It’s because of not being aware of the importance of brushing my pet’s teeth that I never started brushing Lily’s teeth as a kitten. The chance of Lily allowing me to brush her teeth now is non-existent.

A few of years ago Lily had her first dental cleaning. Everything went well and Lily came home sporting a fresh mouth and tartar-free teeth.

As Lily has aged – sorry the pun – she became “long in the tooth”, literally!

Pet Dental Health Month

Fangs showing tarter and decay

Lily’s two fangs were becoming longer and could easily be seen hanging down below her upper lip. The tarter was starting to build up again, her breath was no longer fresh smelling and her gums were becoming red and inflamed. After a consultation with our vet, it was determined Lily should be booked for a dental cleaning, removal of her two fangs, possibly a molar as well.

I admit, the thought of Lily being sedated at 14 years of age was a real concern for me. So Lily had a complete physical checkup that included a full pre-anesthetic blood workup. The results came back favourably and a surgery date was booked.

Pet Dental Health Month

Before cleaning and fang removal, showing tarter buildup (Photo courtesy of Dr. J. Au)

 

Pet Dental Health Month

After cleaning and fang removal (Photo courtesy of Dr. J. Au)

The first night and day following Lily’s dental surgery was the most unpleasant for Lily, and the greatest concern for us. Lily was wobbly on her paws, tired, not interested in eating, and she definitely couldn’t understand the feel of having missing teeth! As for us, we had a tiring first night, constantly watching Lily, making sure she remained calm and not wipe or rub her face disturbing the stitches.

A week has passed since Lily had her dental surgery; two fangs were removed, the remainder of her teeth cleaned and tartar removed. Thankfully there was no need for further extractions and the remainder teeth are healthy.

Pet Dental Health Month

A much happier, content cat

What has stuck me most since her dental work is Lily seems happier! She has adjusted well to missing her fangs, her breath no longer stinks, she is eating more, and has become more social and loving towards us. Could it be that Lily was in pain? Were her teeth and gums bothering her that much before the dental surgery?

I can’t be sure of the answer, but I know we have a happier, healthier cat!

  • Do you brush your pet’s teeth?
  • Have any of your pets ever experienced a dental cleaning or tooth extraction?
  • If so, did you notice a difference in their attitude?

A big thank you to my veterinarian Dr. Judy Au for all her support and care of Lily, and for taking the before & after photos of Lily’s teeth and mouth.

Thank you Dr. Ryan Llera for sharing your professional insight of the importance of pet dental health.

Dr. Ryan Llera is a small animal veterinarian at the Kingston Veterinary Clinic in Kingston, Ontario. Though originally from Florida, he married a Canadian (who is also a vet!) and they share their home with 3 cats, 2 dogs, 2 horses, and a rabbit. Ryan is also a regular guest writer for the Ontario SPCA blog. You can find more of his writing at drryanllera.com or see what else he is up to on Facebook & drryanllera.com

 

 

 

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Author: Kelly Harding & Edie The Pug

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29 Comments

  1. Great article! Lots of pet parents don’t realise that diseases often start in the mouth and then invade the rest of the body. That’s why we’re vigilant about dental health. I’ve got two of the cats to accept teeth brushing, still working on the other two!

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  2. Houdini just had a dental at age 16 and boy was I worried.
    So glad see lily came through ok

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    • I wish I had started when they were young too.

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  3. Such a timely topic – this is a subject near and dear to our hearts. It is mega important to do teeth regularly. We have a routine where we do teeth brushing every night.

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  4. I’m so glad Lily is happier. I have never heard of fangs growing – interesting! I clean Henry and Reese’s teeth. Jack is still a bit too nervous and will bolt away from me and I dare not put my fingers in Rooster’s mouth! We use a water additive also.

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    • I don’t know that her fangs where growing as much as the gums were receding and that gave the appearance of the fangs getting longer. And Lily wouldn’t let me put my fingers in her mouth either!

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  5. We are big advocates of dental health for dogs…this was the first I’ve read such an in-depth article for cats. Excellent! I’m so glad Lily is doing well. Dental health is just so important for our pets. Our Huskies get brushings and three have had professional cleanings. Thankfully, they all have healthy teeth! Thank you for sharing Lily’s story and this great information.

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    • Thank you! I wish I had started bruising all my pet’s teeth when they were young.

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  6. I’m glad that Lily is feeling better! My dog Sophie had a cracked tooth that had to be pulled. During the procedure, the vet also pulled her two bottom middle teeth. She adjusted pretty quickly.

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  7. I don’t brush my dog’s teeth but this reminds me I’ve been meaning to take him in and have him checked. I regret not doing my cat’s teeth more often.

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  8. wow, that one fang of Lily’s looked really nasty! It looks like barnacles. I’m glad she had those teeth removed and the rest of them cleaned. My cat Maggie needed several teeth removed at the age of 10, I was really worried about her going under anesthesia as well. It went fine and believe it or not she never needed another Veterinary cleaning. She lived to be just shy of 19 years old. I’ve tried like crazy to brush my dog’s teeth but they just won’t accept it so I started using brushless products and quality dental chews.
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv them

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    • Yes, Lily’s tooth was pretty nasty and so was her breath! I’m hoping this will be the last time for her to go under for a teeth cleaning.

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  9. We do anesthetic free dental only. Fly someone in from another Province (not legal here in Quebec). At 3.5 pounds anesthesia is just way to risky if avoidable. He does super well and he gets his teeth done 2-3 times a year. Just like me! We brush his teeth 2 times a day as well. So far for a Chihuahua of nearly 7 I am happy to say … we have not lost a tooth yet!

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  10. I brush Mr. N’s teeth everyday. He had a dental about a year ago (he had a fractured tooth) but I didn’t really notice a difference afterwards… despite the number of extractions he had, the vet said he had very good teeth for a dog of his size and age.

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  11. Wow long fans indeed! No wonder Lily had to have them removed. Our Sooty (RB) had a catalogue of teeth trouble and this was long before teeth brushing became fashionable! I think she was prone to it, but we keep a good eye on our others and they get checked every year to ensure their teeth remain healthy.

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    • I couldn’t get over the length of Lily’s fangs either!

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  12. The thing I’ve learned about dental care is the importance of starting it with our pets when they’re young. Our dog is pretty placid by nature, but constantly resists having his teeth cleaned. He just didn’t grow up being used to having it done. In contrast, our cats just seem to take it as just part of life. I’ve cleaned their teeth since a young age.

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  13. Very informative. I didn’t know that the bacteria from the mouth can get into the organs. Lily is a brave kitty. I am not a fan of the dentist 🙂

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    • Just like humans, if we don’t take care of our teeth and gums, it can affect other areas of our health.

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  14. This is an incredibly important subject and I’m so glad you wrote about it! Bean allows for us to brush her teeth, but she still warranted a need for professional cleaning last year. We have since tried to be even more diligent.

    Yoda, on the other hand, does NOT allow for brushing. His jowls are so significant, it’s hard for us to get a brush (or finger) in his mouth anyway. We’ve been using a spray, specific treats and toys, and an additive for his water to help compensate.

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  15. I have worked hard on Layla’s teeth since she was rescued and today are pearly white, I use Tropiclean in her water and the gel in her mouth, plus a bone a day for chewing, my vet is happy with her phew

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    • Well done for taking such good care of Layla’s dental health.

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  16. I’m always surprised by how many people have no idea how important good oral hygiene is, or how many health issues are a direct result of poor dental care. Both my dogs have had dental surgery so I’m very diligent about brushing their teeth, no matter how much they protest.

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  17. Pet dental care is so important. I bet that cat feels so much better now that the bad tooth is out. Great post.

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    • Lily is feeling so much better now that the teeth have been removed and the rest have been cleaned.

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  18. Our pet’s dental health is so important. I had no idea that they can suffer from dental disease at such a young age. I try my best to keep up with their brushing and inspecting their teeth to make sure there is no broken or diseased teeth. Great post, thanks for sharing!

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  19. Our three cats just had their first dentals a couple months ago. One needed extractions, too. It’s something I will definitely pay more attention to now!

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    • I hope all went well with your cats!

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