Does Your Pet Have Bad Breath?
Bad breath in our pets is generally caused by poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease (tartar and gingivitis). In the “old days” our dogs and cats often didn’t live long enough to be concerned with the health of their teeth. Now our dogs and cats are living into their teens and twenties.
Imagine what would happen to your teeth if you didn’t brush them for a year. Now imagine what your cats or dogs teeth look like when they haven’t been brushed for 10 years.
Plaque/tartar builds up on your pets teeth as fast as ours. The speed at which things get really bad is largely dependent on genetics and oral health care. Large dogs such as Labradors and Golden Retrievers have good teeth and chew on bones, sticks and balls which aid in removing tartar and massaging gums.
Small dogs such as Chihuahuas and Pomeranians have many oral health problems including malocclusion (too many teeth and bad arrangement) as well as excessive tartar and gingivitis.
Periodontal disease (tartar,gingivitis, abscesses, etc) is not only responsible for bad breath but also infections which can affect your pets heart, kidneys, liver and general overall health. Abscessed teeth and gums also causes tremendous pain which animals are masters at concealing.
My clients often say, “my cat or dog eats and acts fine” in the face of horrible dental disease. This is because animals adapt to painful conditions and they have no way of letting us know how much pain they are in.
Prevention is always the best option, so please start brushing your pets’ teeth when they are very young and likely to accept it.
Toothpaste comes in chicken, fish and other flavors and very small soft toothbrushes are best.
Give your pet treats or praise for cooperation during this process. CET chews are very good for cleaning teeth and gum massage.
Regular dental cleanings are the most important component of good dental care. Now there are licensed veterinary technicians that can clean your pets teeth without anesthesia if your pet is young and the teeth are healthy or if your pet has a health condition that prohibits anesthesia. Dental cleanings under anesthesia are the only option for pets with advanced tartar and gingivitis, mobile teeth or broken teeth.
Make sure that you take your pet to a veterinarian that has the ability to perform dental x-rays. Proper extractions cannot be performed without the aid of x-rays. Abscessed teeth and deep pockets cannot be treated properly without x-rays and other advanced dental equipment. Ask your veterinarian for a referral to a Board Certified Veterinary Dentist for root canals and other complicated procedures.
Alvin came from the guide Dogs of America in Sylmar, California. Their dogs are bred by the school and then placed in a 4H home where they wear a vest that says “puppy in training”. They are trained in these homes and the school monitors how they react to various stimuli to see if they are good candidates to continue in the program. They are formally trained in the school for 18 months and then assigned to an individual trainer. Alvin was trained to walk at a controlled pace, look for hazards above and below his owner and for traffic problems.
Alvin is Elizabeth’s 7th Guide Dog. He graduated from school in August of 2009. They are trained to work together as a team. He guides her everywhere and she must know the correct route she wants him to take and the correct commands to give him on the route. Her goal is to keep him focused, especially when there are distractions from other dogs or people who want to pet him.
He is trained to stop at street curbs to allow her to feel the curb with her foot. He will guide her around cracks in the sidewalk and other obstacles. Alvin has what they call Intelligent Obedience- it allows him to refuse a command from Elizabeth if he judges it will put her in harms way- such as to move forward if he sees a parked car, construction area or a hole in the sidewalk or street.
Alvin is on a strict schedule for feeding and potty walks but sometimes Elizabeth admits that she lets him take charge. He likes to go inside businesses where he knows he will get treats and he prefers sleeping with his owner rather than on his beds.