It’s almost that time again! February is Pet Dental Health Awareness Month!

Alexis taking a bite out of dental disease!

Many of you may be wondering what all the hype is about Pet Dental Month. Some of you may even be surprised there is a whole month dedicated to the health of our animals’ teeth. Blue Ridge is here to help you understand your pet’s dental health and what you can do to take charge of it.

42. That’s how many teeth are normally found in an adult dog’s mouth. That’s 10 more than the average human! A cat has even less at 30. As you can imagine, each of those little teeth provide their own microenvironment and are a haven for bacteria, plaque, tartar, and even food particles. The size and surface area of the teeth, if taken together, would be about the size of your hand. Take a look at your dog’s or cat’s mouth. How do those teeth look? If you see signs of infection and tartar, it is the same idea as a terrible skin infection or eye infection on the outside of your pet!


Preventative measures

You can teach your kiddos to enjoy tooth brushing!

a.) Brushing teeth. Yes, we know it’s tedious and often difficult. Many dogs and especially cats are not very willing for us to come at them with a foreign object that is expected to scratch all surface areas of their mouth. The good news? Training can help! The bad news? It may take some time, and brushing is still considered the best way to prevent dental disease long-term. Make sure you use ONLY doggie specific toothpaste. Human toothpaste has too much fluoride in it!

b.) Dental Diet. There are special diets specifically made for healthy teeth and gums.. The most effective diets are ones specifically formulated for this purpose and have research behind them, such as t/d by Hill’s and Royal Canin Dental Diet. My pets all have Royal Canin Dental Diet incorporated into their meals, and they absolutely love it!

c.) Rinses and water additives: Do rinses work? They can help. These rinses and additives can help reduce the number of bugs (bacteria) in the mouth. While this doesn’t address the plaque and tartar that’s already present, it can help cut down on bad breath and further infections. These rinses and additives can greatly benefit pets that have gingivitis with very little tartar present. Watch labels though! Most of these rinses contain fake sugars which certain pets may have more difficulty with than others. [Example of brand(s) you approve of?

d.) OraVet Chews: These chews have a special ingredient that can help reduce tartar from sticking to your pet’s teeth. Even though there are options when it comes to dental health chews these days, this is the only one on the market formulated with this special ingredient. It also makes their breath smell like vanilla cupcakes, so there is that!

Kodak can’t wait for his Dental Diet!

Yearly to biyearly dental cleaning

The hardest part about this for most people is the anesthesia and having to do it so routinely. The good news is that at Blue Ridge, we do anesthesia the same way you would expect at a human hospital. Your pet will receive an anesthetic protocol tailored to their needs. Blood work is done prior to the procedure. An IV catheter is placed, through which they receive IV fluids during the procedure.Their blood pressure, oxygen, EKG, and temperature, are monitored throughout the procedure. Blue Ridge uses a specialized warming blanket to keep them warm during their procedure. A nurse is present at all time monitoring and taking vitals. We even offer dental radiographs! This becomes very important in dogs and cats because the majority of their disease happens UNDER the gumline. Only certified personnel can perform any surgical removals of teeth or specialized cleaning. Keeping your pets’ safe and healthy during any procedure is our number one priority.
Know your pet!

Most of the time, dogs and cats are great at hiding tooth pain. Watch them closely for any signs of a problem such as bad breath, cocking head to the same side while eating, slowing down when eating, bleeding gums, pawing at the mouth, or excessive drooling. If you’re seeing any of that, we want to know!

Other Fun Facts

a.) Dental disease has been shown have effects on the heart and kidney. Severe dental disease has been linked to animals being more likely to promote heart issues and kidney failure.
b.) Veterinary Dentists do exist! For more extensive procedures such as root canals, a referral can be made by your regular veterinarian.
c.) Up to 80% of dog have dental disease by the age of 3!

As always, thanks for sinking your teeth into our blog! Look forward to hearing from you with any questions, and seeing your babies for their yearly dental cleanings soon.

Sincerely yours,
Dr. Jessica Tracy and the Staff at Blue Ridge Animal Hospital