Harry, did you see that cat Joseph hanging around mom’s flower garden the other day? Of course William, he’s always there antagonizing us, but something’s different about him. That’s right Harry, he’s now “Toothless Joe”. The poor guy, he’s only seven years old and has already lost all of his teeth to dental disease.
He tried to tell his parents that he was in agonizing pain as his teeth were rotting, but they haven’t learned to speak cat yet. He overheard his dad bragging to a friend about what a wonderful cat they have. He was boasting about how he’s never been to the vet, “he’s the best cat I’ve ever had, never been sick a day in his life”……….if only he knew.
Harry, it really breaks my heart to hear such stories. If Joe were a person, he would have been in the dentist’s office the minute he felt that first jolt of pain. Unfortunately, most people don’t realize that dental disease is one of the most frequently diagnosed diseases in pets.
If this is so common, why are there so many cats and dogs suffering from this disease? Well, Harry there are many people who are simply misinformed. Some common myths are:
- I feed dry kibble, it’s good for his teeth
- I give him plenty of rawhides and bones, that’ll keep his teeth healthy
- He can’t have dental disease, the groomer brushes his teeth every 3 months
- Puppy/kitten breath is normal
- Animals only need to visit the veterinarian when they are sick
- Losing teeth is a normal part of aging
- She’s still eating, so her teeth must be fine
- He doesn’t act painful, his teeth aren’t that bad
Harry, people simply don’t realize that their pet’s teeth are just like their own. Mom and dad brush their teeth and floss 2-3 times a day and still need to visit the dentist every 6 months. I recommend the following to keep that beautiful smile:
- Visit the veterinarian yearly a discuss their pet’s dental health status
- Brush the teeth daily with a veterinary-approved toothpaste (never human toothpaste)
- Perform yearly prophylactic dental cleaning to remove tartar and address dental disease in the early stages before teeth need to be removed. Some predisposed breeds (ie toy breeds like chihuahuas, yorkies, min-pins, etc) may require a dental every 6 months.
- For pets that will not permit tooth brushing, there are other products that your veterinarian may recommend (ie mouth rinses, dental gels, medicated rawhides, etc)
Wow, I never knew dental health was so complicated. That’s right Harry, the best advice is for pet owners to talk with their veterinarian to develop a comprehensive dental health plan to keep that beautiful smile.
Harry & Eric Brooks, DVM
Stow Kent Animal Hospital
Check out our YouTube video demonstrating how to brush your pet’s teeth https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsRNSzPCT84