February is not just for Valentine’s Day. It’s also a month set aside by the veterinary profession to exalt the benefits of dental health for our pets. Good dental practices for the human mammal have medically demonstrable benefits to our overall health, and those same practices continued for our furry companions have very similar effects. Actually, our pets need even more care since they don’t have opposable thumbs and can’t brush their own teeth. Also, there are several breeds of dogs and cats that actually have an increased tendency to have serious dental issues that will drastically and adversely affect their health and overall life span.
Just as continued medical research into human disease and health are providing us with more diagnostics and treatments than were available one hundred years ago, that research is leading the veterinary profession into the same improved care and opportunities for the betterment of our beloved pet’s health, including dental health. In the past, cracking off bulky tartar by giving our dog a big bone (don’t do this, by the way) was considered enough. Now dental treatments have progressed, for example, to the opportunity to get a root canal (and more) for the military/working dogs whose “bite” is so important for our protection.
Imagine having a severe infection at the root of your tooth or even large areas of gingivitis and experiencing the maddening and continual pain from that. Then imagine your furry baby having several areas of infection/gingivitis and not being able to communicate that pain; they seem to just continue eating (maybe not as much or as well) and going on with life without complaint. Of course you would want to spare them that experience. But the bacteria continually present in their mouth gets into the bloodstream and causes problems in the overall body, especially in their heart and kidneys. Actually, having constant dental infections is one of the primary causes of severe heart and kidney diseases. Now you can be your furry baby’s hero by doing your best to prevent those contributing dental infections and get several more years of unconditional love for your efforts.
You and your veterinarian are partners in keeping your beloved companions as healthy as possible, so use this month, as well as the other eleven, to monitor their mouths and follow through with as many recommendations as possible to keep those mouths and the accompanying bodies in glowing health. Don’t think that if a root canal is out of your reach, you may slide with their dental monitoring; there are many simple things that you can do to help your baby. And your veterinary partner will be with you all the way and would cherish sharing some of your baby’s sloppy, sweet-smelling kisses and love for themselves. After all, that “payment” is more precious to veterinarians than gold.