As a small animal veterinarian, one of the most common and overlooked disease that I see is periodontal disease. About 90% of the patients I see for other reasons, have moderate to severe periodontal disease that needs to be treated. That is a dramatic percentage. So why are pet parents less concerned about their pet’s dental health then they are about other diseases? Our pet’s dental health is just as important to a long healthy life as vaccinations and proper nutrition. My clients typically and unknowingly overlook poor oral health, and underestimate the long-term consequences of periodontal disease. Just like in humans, poor dental health can result in heart disease, increased risk of cancer, increased risk of diabetes, and pancreatic disease, and can also decrease our pet’s lifespan. Poor oral health can also be painful and uncomfortable for our pets, and sometimes our pets have difficulty expressing that they are in pain, especially if the pain is minor oral pain. So in honor of February, which is National Pet Dental Month, I am encouraging all my pet parents to be aware of the impact that poor dental health can have on your pets and what we can do to make sure our pets do not suffer with periodontal disease. So, where can we start and what can we do to improve our pet’s dental health?
YEARLY VETERINARIAN EXAMINATIONS AND CHECKUPS. Visit your veterinarian for a thorough dental cleaning and examination annually or biannually. So many times, my clients do not realize that their pets are suffering with poor dental health. Your veterinarian can diagnose periodontal disease and educate pet parents on the disease. Just like us, pets need a thorough cleaning with an ultrasonic cleaner and scaler that removes the plaque and tartar on the teeth, and cleans under gum lines that you cannot reach with a toothbrush.
BRUSHING YOUR PETS TEETH. As a veterinarian, I recommend brushing your pet’s teeth every day, but if you can do it twice weekly, you are way ahead of the game. This is the best way you can prevent periodontal disease and keep your pet’s mouth healthy and clean. The key is to use a soft bristle toothbrush and pet formulated toothpaste. My favorite toothpaste for pets is DENTAL FRESH® ENZYMATIC DENTAL GEL FOR DOGS because of the 7-zyme properties which other pet toothpastes do not have. 7-Zyme™ attacks the cell walls of mouth bacteria, depriving them of the oxygen and iron needed for survival and proliferation. This gel is also clinically proven to heal oral wounds which are common with periodontal disease.
WATER ADDTIVES. It is very difficult to brush our pet’s teeth. Most pets do not tolerate placing your finger or a toothbrush in their mouth for brushing. If your pet is not a fan of having his or her teeth brushed, I absolutely love the Dental Fresh Water Additive. The additives some in 4 different varieties (original formula, advanced plaque & tartar formula, advanced whitening formula, and cat formula). It is the “world’s first and only clinically proven toothbrush in a bottle.” I recommend my clients add this formal into their pets water bowl daily. When your pet drinks his or her water the additive works by:
I prefer dental fresh water additives over other dental water additives because it contains no alcohol, no sugar, no surfactants or detergents, and no pungent mint flavors, like many other water bowl additives on the market do. Dental fresh water additives do not cause staining, has no taste or artificial flavorings, and can be safely used long-term.
DENTAL CHEWS. One Dental chew or treat a day keeps the veterinarian away! The most recent studies show that adding one dental chew a day to your pet’s diet can dramatically improve their overall dental health and reduce periodontal disease. I recommend the DENTAL FRESH® ENZYMATIC DENTAL CHEWS FOR DOGS because of the 7-zyme properties in the chew just like the dental gel. 7-Zyme™ attacks the cell walls of mouth bacteria, depriving them of the oxygen and iron needed for survival and proliferation.
At home dental care is the single most important measure you can take to prevent periodontal disease and promote dental health in your pet. I hope that by learning the easy and convenient ways to improve your pet’s dental health at home, it will inspire all my pet parents to take the best care of their pet’s teeth. I know how much my clients and I adore and love their pets. Keeping them healthy and living a long life is top priority. Dental care should be part of your pet’s routine, and I promise they will repay you with healthy and clean kisses.
My name is Dr. Alison Birken and I am a small animal veterinarian, wife, mother of three, and a sister to my three siblings. Over the past six years, I have dedicated my life to building and operating an animal hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, accomplishing a lifelong goal of mine. In addition, along with my sisters (Katie, a pediatrician and Carrie, a fashion stylist), I am a co-founder of Forever Freckled (www.foreverfreckled.com), a website dedicated to helping people with pets, children, and everyday lifestyle. It has been an incredible journey turning my passion for animals into a career and nothing brings me more joy than to help pets and their parents with wellness and healthy living. For wellness and health tips for pets, and other lifestyle advice, please follow our journey on www.foreverfreckled.com.
Dr. Alison Birken
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