Denver veterinarian discusses pet dental health
Who we talked to
Why is it important that pet owners make sure their pets get regular dental care?
"The biggest advantage is not only for good oral health, but good health in general. A lot of bacterial infections come with dental disease, and constant infections can cause problems with other systems, like the heart and kidneys. The best thing is to try to prevent problems - preventing is a lot easier than curing.
"We've worked really hard on our education aspect of dental disease, and now we're getting clients who know their pet's dental needs. The biggest issue we tackle is the financial aspect.
"But the overall cost in a pet's lifetime, if you keep up the dental care, is actually quite a bit less [than if you don't] - you're not extracting teeth, giving them antibiotics, or doing other things that need to be done when they have poor health."
What kinds of dental services do you offer, and how often should pets get checkups?
"We do regular cleanings and oral surgeries, and one of our owners does root canals. We focus mainly on dogs and cats. Most pets need a cleaning every one or two years.
"A lot of people wait until a pet's breath is bad or they visibly see a problem, but that's when it's too late, and you end up extracting teeth that probably could have been saved."
Are there any signs something may be wrong with your pet's teeth?
"Bad breath, drooling, or any kind of hesitancy to eat or chew. It can affect your pet's overall health - it's like their body's constantly fighting an infection, and it wears on their immune system.
"We strongly encourage people to brush their pet's teeth. You've got to do it at least three times a week to see any improvement. Plaque turns to tarter in about three days, and you've got to interrupt that cycle.
"Start brushing dogs' teeth when they're puppies. Make it a training ritual. Brushing is absolutely the best thing to take care of your pet's teeth. People can brush their cats' teeth, too, but it takes some work.
"Dental diets are important, too, like the prescription food you can get at a vet's office. There are also dental treats and chews to help get rid of plaque, and rinses and additives are helpful - most have an antibiotic or enzymes that help prevent plaque."