Wednesday, January 12, 2005
Protecting Your Pet: Dental Care For Pets
Just like humans - our pets need regular dental care to remove plaque and tartar. If not taken care of - they can suffer life-threatening health problems. Health Specialist Marilyn Mitzel has more in today's protecting your pet.
WSVN -- Peepers - a Kinkajou - an exotic pet in the raccoon family always makes his dad smile.
Peter Parente, Peeper's dad: "He is my child."
He's even the main character of Peterís book.
Peter Parente: "He has the best personality. He's playful, inquisitive and loving."
But Peepers lost his grin because of major tooth trouble.
Peter Parente: "All of the sudden he started getting infections on his eyes and around his chin, all the areas around his mouth."
Other signs of problems include gnawing, drooling, difficulty eating and bad breath. Peeper's diagnosis -- four teeth had roots exposed.
Peter Parente: "Scary at first."
Dental care is a key component of our pets' health. In fact, 80 percent of cats and dogs show signs of dental disease by the age of three.
Dr. Jan Bellows from Hometown Animal Hospital: "Tartar builds up under the gums and unfortunately when bacteria build up under the gums it can spread to other organs."
Causing kidney, liver and heart problems - even shortening their life span. That's why it's vital to have their teeth examined at least once a year.
Dr. Jan Bellows: "We're looking for inflammation - areas of bone loss, gum inflammation, loose or fractured teeth."
Even cavities - which are common in cats.
Dr. Jan Bellows: "All cats over five have at least one cavity."
The vet may recommend a cleaning.
Dr. Mark Stevens from Seiler Animal Hospital: "Some animals never need a dental until eight or nine years of age. Others need it once every eight months depending on how saliva breaks down the food."
If they do it takes less than an hour - and your pet must be under anesthesia.
Dr. Mark Stevens: "Anesthesia is a risk with humans and animals, but the risk is low."
Still -- blood and heart tests must be done prior to make sure your pet is healthy enough.
Peepers needed more work.
Dr. Jan Bellows: "What we had to do was take out the lower teeth and do a root canal on the top teeth. This is something we do everyday."
But you can help protect your pet's teeth --- it gets rid of tartar. But avoid treats like bones that are harder than the teeth because they cause fractures. If your pet let's you - examine their teeth monthly for inflammation and - try routine brushing.
There are even once-a-week products that protect plaque from attacking the teeth.
With a dental care and a lot of love - peepers is all smiles again!
Peter Parente: "Now he's doing great."
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Jan Bellows
Hometown Animal Hospital
Dr. Mark Stevens
Seiler Animal Hospital