Salt Lake City veterinarian gives expert tips on pet dental hygiene
Who we talked to
Dr. Lynn McCarron, raised in Kent, Ohio, attended undergraduate college at Kent State University, and received herdoctorate of veterinary medicine from The Ohio State University in 1988.
She's a specialist in dog and cat surgery and medicine and is a diplomat of the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners - one of a few in Utah.
She founded the University Veterinary Hospital & Diagnostic Center in 1992 after moving to Utahwith her husband the previous year. Her first pet was a collie named Lori.
Why is regular dentalcare important?
"Chronic, painful mouth infections are detrimental to the overall health and can complicate the whole recovery process. Also, bacteria are steadily released into the bloodstream, deteriorating the other areas of their bodies. I wouldn't say it's overlooked by owners, but its importance is definitely underestimated."
What kinds of dental services do you offer?
"We offer pretty thorough exams, but nothing involving endodontics - meaning internal teeth issues like root canals. We do handle things like gum disease or broken teeth. Root canals are done by a veterinary dentist, which isn't us."
How often should preventive care be done?
"Depending on the age and breed, once or twice a year. Some breeds, like poodles and cocker spaniels, need their first cleaning as young as 3 years old. Other breeds, like German shepherds and Labs, have a special composition in their saliva that affects how tartar builds on the gums and teeth. Those particular breeds will not need cleaning until they're 8 or 9 years old."
What are common warning signs of dental problems?
"Bad breath, bleeding of the gums, chewing on one side, reluctance to play with toys they normally play with - most will not show symptoms until it's pretty well advanced."
What can a pet owner do at home?
"You can brush their teeth yourself or have them regularly chew on a toothbrush. You start by putting something on the toothbrush they'll enjoy, like peanut butter, then move to toothpaste that's designed for dogs.
Also, there's a sealant you can put on their teeth and gums and there's chewing devices like dental toys and rawhides with imbedded toothpaste. Simple rawhides have been shown to help as well.
The goal is to brush daily. I suggest they try to brush once a day, but if it's a couple times a week, that's good."