February is Pet Dental Health Month. For those of you superheroes that brush your pet’s teeth at least twice weekly, read no further and go celebrate with some coffee or an adult beverage. For the rest of us mere mortals (including many veterinarians), misery loves company; let’s start a meet-up group.
Good news—our meet-up group can gather monthly—not just in February. Bad news—every month is Pet Dental Health Month. February is the traditional time for veterinarians to increase awareness of dog and cat oral health care, but it is important to improve or maintain your pet’s oral hygiene every month.
Improve your pet’s oral health by following your veterinarian’s recommendation for dental cleaning when needed. Yes, this requires anesthesia to be performed thoroughly and without discomfort. Yes, anesthesia is a scary word; your veterinarian worries too. That’s precisely why we are good at it and take steps to reduce the risk, such that it is substantially outweighed by reward. The most important area to be deep cleaned by your veterinarian is the tissue below the gum line around each tooth (potentially 42 for dogs and 30 for cats). It is unrealistic to expect your pet to allow this without anesthesia.
Maintain your pet’s oral health by routinely practicing at least 2 or more of the following “home care” strategies:
• Feeding one of the dental diets made by Hills or Purina or Royal Canin.
• Treating the drinking water with an oral antiseptic water additive.
• Encouraging “recreational chewing.”
• Brushing the teeth.
I took an oath to tell you to do that last one, but if you’re still reading I’ll see you at the meet-up. We can toast how professional dental cleanings by your veterinarian and routine dental “home care” can enhance and prolong your pet’s life!
Dr. Troy Smith
Manchaca Village Veterinary Care