The dentist’s office is probably on the bottom of your list of favorite places to go. But we all understand the importance of keeping good dental hygiene. The same can be said for your furry friend, but their choppers rarely get the same attention as yours.
“[Dogs and cats] have the same teeth and mouth structure that we do, so check-ups should be same as ours,” says vet tech student Jennifer Little. “Would you want to go multiple weeks without brushing your teeth? Or never go to the dentist?”
Vet Tech student Kristin Pazdernik added, “[Oral health] is important because it affects all of the other body systems, both internal and external systems. Keeping their teeth and gums clean is important for overall good health.”
According to vet tech instructor Mike Poulsen, “Dental and oral health can affect every organ in the body. Just like in people, their teeth get disease and that disease will get in the blood stream and get into all of the organs.”
In a recent applied learning project, students in the Application of Veterinary Clinical Skills class were able to work first-hand on cleaning dogs’ teeth while examining for other mouth problems. Students were also able to look for the beginning signs of a dental issue.
Some of the beginning indicators that there may be a cause for concern are: bad breath, drooling, lack of appetite and refusal of your pet to let you close to their mouth. It is also beneficial to check the overall look of the teeth and mouth. You can check for inflamed gums and plaque buildup.
Good oral hygiene is critical to keeping your pet healthy, but you don’t need to be a certified veterinary technician to keep your companion smiling. Follow these four simple steps for a brighter and healthier smile for your pet:
1. Brush teeth. Start them young and continue to brush their teeth regularly.
2. Hard over soft food. Hard food helps prevent/reduce plaque buildup.
3. Dental chews. “They entertain your pet and kill gingivitis at the same time,” notes vet tech student Laci Eck.
4. Take your pet in for a yearly checkup.