Caring For Your Pet’s Teeth At Home

This is the third article in our series of dental health articles, and arrives just in time for February, which is National Pet Dental Health Month!

In case you haven’t heard, our February Dental Health Month special is 10% off all dental procedures (see our article on the “COHAT” and what this includes!) as well as FREE dental goody bags for pets after their procedure. Read on for more information about what to do with the great home care samples you’ll find in that goody bag!

Home Dental Care – The Most Important Part of Your Pet’s Dental Health!

What would your breath smell like if you NEVER brushed your teeth? Like your dog’s breath, maybe? Our pets’ mouths have bacteria and plaque just like our mouths (and often theirs have more, especially depending on what your dog likes to chew…).

There are many things that you can do at home to support your pet’s dental health, to reduce buildup of plaque and tartar, and to prevent periodontal disease. None of these options require advanced or special skills, and any or all of them could make a difference for your pet. Your bottom line could benefit as well, as home care may be able to reduce the frequency of professional dental cleanings for some pets, and often, can prevent expensive tooth extractions or restorations later.

Brushing – The Gold Standard

Dog owner brushing an Australian Shepherd puppys teeth. Educational showing the proper method of handeling the puppy.

Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth is the absolute best way to prevent tartar and gum disease.

Ideally, we would brush our pets’ teeth daily, but the truth is even occasional brushing can still make a difference. The brushing action is the best way to remove the bacterial film that builds up on the surfaces of teeth, which would otherwise develop into plaque and eventually dentaltoothpastetartar. Pet-safe toothpastes in flavors like poultry, seafood, malt and vanilla-mint are available to help make the process more enjoyable for your pet, and may contribute a little to cleaning the teeth as well. You should not use human toothpastes with pets, as they frequently end up swallowing a good deal of toothpaste in the process.

Brush options vary from traditional pet bristle brushes to smaller rubber finger brushes. Human baby toothbrushes with SOFT bristles can be used as well, and sometimes work well for cat mouths or very small dogs. Experiment to find what is most comfortable for you and your pet!dentalbrushes

Introducing your pet to brushing could be a whole article itself, but the basic principles are: start young if you can, start with only brief sessions and work up, and make the experience fun and rewarding for your pet! Almost any pet can learn to have their teeth brushed and all will benefit from this special care you give them!

Here is a great video about dental disease that gives specific demonstrations of brushing and introducing your dog or cat to brushing!

Dental Chews, Treats, & Toys

dentalchewsThe chewing action dogs (and some cats!) enjoy can help them keep their teeth clean by physically rubbing off the bacterial film on the teeth, just like brushing can do. Some dental chews and treats may also contain other ingredients to help combat bacterial buildup. Brushing helps us address all the surfaces of the teeth – it has an advantage over products that clean the teeth by the chewing action because pets may chew using some areas of their mouth preferentially. They may be cleaning only those areas. Still, some cleaning of the teeth is better than none. Therefore, products that clean the teeth as the animal chews are still useful.

Dental chews and treats vary in how effective they may be – there is no regulation to prevent a company from claiming their product is good for teeth even if they have never tested it. Treats that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal have standards for their product with trials and are an excellent products with which to start. Other treats may also be effective, but one rule of thumb is if your pet is not actually chewing on the treat, they are likely not getting a lot of benefit from it!

Water Additives, Rinses, & Sprays

dentalrinsesWater additives and rinses are used to try to decrease bacteria in the mouth of our pets. Water additives like Oratene or AquaDent are put in the pets’ drinking water in small amounts, and act as a safe-to-swallow “mouthwash” each time the pet drinks. Oral rinses like DentaHex can dentallebaiiibe squirted over the pets’ teeth daily to help kill bacteria in the mouth.

Leba-III is a spray we offer that helps to promote a healthy bacterial balance in the mouth – it can be spritzed in the mouth twice daily to help keep teeth healthy.

Food – The Other Daily Dental Care Option!

td foodYou make an important health decision for your dog or cat every day – what to put in the food bowl! We carry not one but TWO food options that are clinically proven to help cats and dogs maintain healthy mouths. Both Hill’s t/d diet and Purina DH have the VOHC seal and are available for long term feeding that daily helps remove plaque and bacteria. They are suitable for almost every pet, and can be fed lifelong. They may be an especially good idea to start early in pets prone to dental disease.

Both foods use special kibble technology to help clean the teeth as the pet crunches their daily meal. These work best after a thorough cleaning, as they prevent buildup on clean teeth, but both are beneficial in ALL pets to slow down plaque and tartar accumulation.

YOU Can Do It – And We’re Here to Help!

brushcatteethThese are all wonderful ways for you to take an active role in protecting your pet’s health! Dental disease is such a common condition, and with just a little effort on the home front, pet parents can make a BIG difference in their pet’s oral health!

Please contact us with any questions about getting started with home dental care for your pet! Our doctors and staff would love to help find the right match for you and your pet.

Health Focus Months

Health Focus Months at Catlett Animal Hospital

Catlett Animal Hospital works hard to highlight important pet health concerns year round. Join us in these special focus months to learn more and receive special promotions and discounts in these important areas of pet wellness!

A list of our planned Health Focus Months for 2017 may be found below. Please realize this is a tentative list, and may be updated or changed throughout the year. Feel free to call us if you would like more information or further details throughout the year!

January
Feline Health Month
Cats need regular care and vaccinations just as much as dogs do, but many don’t come to the vet as often as they should. Get 10% off feline tests and vaccinations this month. Get 15% off the same for NEW feline patients!

February
Dental Health
10% discounts on all dental procedures including complete oral health and cancer screening exams, ultrasonic tartar removal, and tooth extractions. Free pre-dental mouth assessments are available to determine if your pet would benefit from a dental procedure. Dental health goody bags with free samples provided after every dental procedure.

March
Lyme Disease and Lyme Vaccination
Our region of the country is a high-risk area for Lyme disease! Get your dog better protected against Lyme disease and receive a discount on the booster as well as a free gift. (while supplies last)

April
Parasite Testing and Prevention
Parasites want to feed on your pets from the inside (worms) and out (fleas and ticks). 10% off stool sample testing and heartworm testing, as well as many discounts and rebates on all of our parasite prevention products.

May
Wellness Bloodwork Screening
Discounts on comprehensive wellness blood and urine screening packages will allow you and your doctor to get crucial baseline information for your pet and allow for early detection of serious diseases.

June
Anxiety Management
Fireworks and thunderstorms can make our pets especially anxious in the summer which is why we are featuring anxiety management options this month.

July
Pain-Free Movement
Summertime should be full of fun activities for all pets. This month we focus on ways to protect and support joints and to relieve pain from injuries or arthritis.

August
Summer Break!

September
Healthy Weight & Pet Weight Loss Challenge
Obesity is one of the leading diseases among pets, and weight loss can be one of the most challenging things to accomplish for caring pet parents. Join us this month for education, motivation, and specials related to keeping pets at a healthy weight!

October
Dental Health
10% discounts on all dental procedures including complete oral health and cancer screening exams, ultrasonic tartar removal, and tooth extractions. Free pre-dental mouth assessments are available to determine if your pet would benefit from a dental procedure. Dental health goody bags with free samples provided after every dental procedure.

November
Microchip Identification
Collars get lost or stolen, but a microchip will always be there to help reunite you and your pet. Discount on microchip implantation.

December
Half-Off Treats
Let us help you and Santa out for holiday gift giving with awesome specials on pet treats!

 

Demystifying The COHAT – the Dental Procedure


October is a Dental Health Awareness Month at Catlett Animal Hospital!

As part of our ongoing effort to help your pets live long and happy, healthy lives we offer occasional monthly specials to address specific health concerns. Oral disease is a particularly prevalent but under treated condition.

In October we offer 10% off all dental procedures! We also provide free dental goody bags for your pet after his/her procedure, so you can continue with good oral health care at home. Feel free to call us for more information!

     540-788-6094

This year we are also releasing some articles addressing dental health on a more in-depth level. Please enjoy our article below!

COHAT: Complete Oral Health Assessment & Treatment – What Happens During My Pet’s Procedure?

When you, the pet parent, and our doctors decide a professional dental cleaning or other dental health treatments are beneficial for your pet, there are often questions about what actually happens during the procedure. We prepared this article to help answer some of those questions and help explain the
benefits to your pet.

First things first – why do we call it a “COHAT” and not a “dental”?

Many people used to refer to a veterinary oral exam and professional dental cleaning as simply “a dental”. However, we have shifted to calling the process a Complete Oral Health Assessment & Treatment, because that is a much better description of what actually occurs! The procedure is NOT just about cleaning teeth, but about a complete oral health and cancer screening, as well as treating and preventing oral disease for your pet.

Examination

During the COHAT, the veterinarian will first do a thorough examination of your pet’s mouth, including inspecting the teeth and recording any that are missing, broken, or diseased, measuring gingival (gum) pockets (an indicator of periodontal disease), evaluating the gums, cheeks, and tongue for any signs of cancer or other disease, and looking deep into the back of the throat. Since yourProbeChartDental pet is under anesthesia this exam is far more complete and detailed than anything that can be accomplished in the normal exam room. Subtle changes, masses hidden under the tongue, and other crucial findings can be made on this exam which could be missed on a regular, awake exam.

Treatments & Cleaning

After the examination, the veterinarian can proceed to treatment of any disease found in your pet’s mouth. This may mean scaling and cleaning away tartar deposits (very common) on healthy teeth, and following with a polishing to smooth the enamel and make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere in the future. The equipment we use to clean your pet’s teeth is similar to, or sometimes exactly the same, as what is used for people in a dental office. The ultrasonic tool for removing tartar that we use has different tips and settings for cleaning above or below the gum line; this is one of the most critical parts of the COHAT, as so much of our pets’ dental disease is actually below the gum line. Without cleaning this crucial area, your pet’s plaque and tartar will come right BeforeAfterDentalback above the gum line, and the disease will continue deeper below the gum line to cause jaw bone disease.

Sometimes teeth are so diseased that th
ey may be loose and wiggly, or the bone around them may be infected or decaying. These teeth are sources of disease and pain, and thus, we often need to extract them to provide relief. Other teeth may have less severe disease and be repairable with a root canal and restoration, for which we can refer you to veterinary dental specialists.

What About The Anesthesia?

We wish our pets would all “open wide” for our dental procedures, but even people have trouble with this request! Anesthesia is the only way we can safely do the deep cleaning required for your pet’s oral health. For routine cleanings, your pet’s total anesthesia time is often less than 20-30 minutes, althoughMonitoringDental if there are more advanced procedures or necessary extractions, it may take a longer. (Another reason to be proactive about dental care!) The dentistry patient receives intubation to ensure a clear airway for breathing, inhalant anesthesia, and supplementary oxygen; warming, and close monitoring including ECG, blood pressure, oxygenation, temperature, and an assistant to watch over them before, during, and after the procedure are also provided. While no anesthesia is without risk, every patient gets our best care during their dental procedure. Preanesthetic bloodwork, IV catheters, and fluids are always recommended and sometimes required depending on the health and age of your pet. Our goal is always the best and safest treatment.

 

Please always feel free to discuss options for dental care for your pets with our doctors! We want you to be comfortable that your pet is getting the best preventive or corrective oral care possible for their health and wellbeing!

October is Dental Health Month! 10% Off!

October is a Dental Health Awareness Month at Catlett Animal Hospital!

As part of our ongoing effort to help your pets live long and happy, healthy lives we offer occasional monthly specials to address specific health concerns. Oral disease is a particularly prevalent but under treated condition.

In October we offer 10% off all dental procedures, including cleanings! We also provide free dental goody bags for your pet after his/her procedure, so you can continue with good oral health care at home. Feel free to call us for more information!   540-788-6094

This year we are also releasing some articles addressing dental health on a more in-depth level. Please enjoy our first article below!

Dental Disease – A Silent Problem With Big Health Consequences

There’s a disease affecting many of our pets that goes ignored or untreated on a regular basis. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, periodontal disease (disease of the gums and teeth) is THE most common clinical condition in adult dogs and cats, and affects a majority of all pets over the age of three years. That’s a lot of disease!

We would treat a cut, a rash, or a limp in our furry family members, but the painful, chronic infection in our pets’ mouths doesn’t get addressed nearly as frequently. It’s a mostly “silent” disease, and oftentimes even observant owners don’t know it is a problem until it is severe. In the meantime, our pets suffer from toothaches and severe gum sensitivity, loose or broken teeth, and a source of constant infection that may threaten other important organs in the body. Dogs and cats often suffer in silence when it comes to this disease because it is a gradual process to which they adjust over time. Their stoic natures don’t make the disease any less serious, however!

How does dental & periodontal (gum) disease develop?

Natural bacteria live in every pet’s mouth. These bacteria enjoy living in the moist, warm environment, and “sharing” the pet’s meals. They first form a sticky film over the surface of the teeth, which can’t be seen when we look at the teeth. This is what we try to brush away when we brush the teeth. If the film stays in place for enough time, this film hardens into unsightly plaque and dental calculus (tartar) that we see on the teeth.

Tartar acts as a sturdy, protective “homebase” for the bacteria. From there, the infection can easily spread up under the gum line, compromising the root of the tooth and bone of the jaw. The bacteria destroys the bone and connective tissues and eventually causes the teeth to loosen or fall out. This deep infection can also lead to jaw fractures or bone abscesses (pockets of infected bone). The body attempts to send disease-fighting immune cells through the bloodstream to the gums, but can never completely get rid of the infection due to the entrenched disease.

PerioDzChart2

How can dental disease affect the rest of my pet’s health?

Bacteria infecting the mouth can also travel back into the bloodstream and affect other body organs, including the heart, liver, and kidneys. Your pet’s immune system works overtime trying to combat this steady flow of bacteria, however in some cases, the bacteria can lead to other serious illnesses. Senior animals, who naturally have a slightly decreased immune system, may be particularly at risk, and they are often the ones with the most advanced disease. Antibiotic therapy cannot cure the infection, only temporarily decrease the bacteria and lessen the symptoms, because the bacteria are well-established in the mouth. Removing infected teeth (thus removing the source of infection) is often the only way to make your pet healthy again.

DentalSymptomsChart

Dental disease is a huge problem for your pet. You may not notice that it is there, but it causes tremendous health issues for your aging companion. Our next article will focus on what’s involved in the Complete Oral Health Assessment and Treatment.

October is one of our dental health focus months! Please bring you pet in today to be evaluated by a veterinarian to see if a dental cleaning can make your pet healthier. During October, receive 10% off any dental procedures, and a free dental health “goody bag” for your pet after the procedure!

More information from the American Veterinary Dental College:

http://www.avdc.org/periodontaldisease.html

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