Don’t neglect pet dental hygiene care

Published 7:00 am Thursday, February 8, 2018

According to the American Veterinary Medical Foundation, February is pet dental hygiene awareness month and animals, just like humans, required a good oral hygiene to live healthier and longer lives.

Doctor Gale Harris, of East Poplarville Veterinary Clinic, said up to 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats do not receive proper dental care and as a result they may show signs of dental disease by the age of three.

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The best method to ensure pets have a healthy mouth involves brushing their teeth, but that might not always be an option since most pets won’t remain calm during that process. Harris said there are products such as liquids, sprays and pet treats that can help an animal keep teeth and gums healthy. Some of these products are available only through a prescription but others can be bought over the counter from a pet or grocery store.

“The best product a pet owner can buy is either a treat or spray that has the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal on the packaging,” Harris said. “With prescription based products, we can teach pet owners the best way possible to use the product, so they can have the best possible results. We also have a new chew called Oravet, in which we are able to see immediate results. The product helps dogs reduce plaque and tartar in their mouth and get rid of bad breath.”

Usually, when an animal has bad breath, it is common to think that the pet has a dental hygiene problem but that’s not always the case. When an animal has bad breath that is not treated right away, the animal could suffer from gingivitis and create the risk of the bacteria becoming part of the animal’s bloodstream. If that occurs, it might lead to a bigger problem, Harris said. Some of those diseases include kidney disease and diabetes.

“Just because a dog is young, it does not mean that they cannot suffer from oral diseases,” Harris said. “When an animal has bad breath, it is important to bring them to the veterinary office as soon as possible. In the past, I have had dogs in my office that had bad breath and suffered from oral melanoma.”

Also, dogs will lose their teeth if an oral problem is not cared for or persists after a visit to the veterinarian.

“One time, I had to pull 21 teeth out of a dog’s mouth,” Harris said. “Days after the procedure, the owners called me and told me their dog was playing around just like when he was a puppy and that’s because we were able to get rid of all the bacteria that it had in its mouth.”

Currently there is no set time frame outlining how many times a pet owner should visit the veterinarian, but veterinarian Blythe Odom from the Picayune Veterinary Clinic, said animals should visit the veterinarian at least twice a year.

“By visiting the veterinarian consistently, we are able to detect any sickness or diseases early on and we can help the animal live healthy for a long time,” Odom said.

For anyone who is thinking about bringing a new pet into their household, they can visit their local veterinary to see what type of animal will best fit their lifestyle. Harris said factors such as the number of children in a house and whether a person lives in an apartment or house can help determine the breed of dog they should adopt

“Having a pet is a big commitment because they become part of your life and your family, so it’s always best to learn as much as possible about owning a pet,” Harris said. “It’s important to remember that puppies need vaccinations, they need a heartworm shot and a lot of care so they can life happily and longer.”

Odom said veterinary offices also provide services such as routine care, vaccinations, blood work and x-rays for any pets that might require those services.

“Medicine is improving every year and we are able to do more for animals,” Harris said. “At the end, our goal is to provide pets with a higher quality of life.”