So, February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and for that reason it seemed relevant to write something about who should actually take advantage of the special offers. The obvious answer is everyone, but that is too short a blog, and not very interesting either. The long answer is anyone with a dog, cat, rabbit, chinchilla, guinea pig, bearded dragon, or other animal with dental disease. I know you were not expecting bearded dragon on the list, but its true!! Many animals would significantly benefit from dental evaluations, and February is a great time to consider having your pet’s teeth evaluated.
DOGS AND CATS
Dogs and cats are the most common species that come to mind when most people think about animals needing dental care. The main reason people bring their dogs and cats in for dental evaluation is because THEIR BREATH STINKS! Bad breath (halitosis) is usually the most common sign the average pet owner notices. Animals are good at hiding signs of pain and discomfort, and the majority of pets continue to eat well despite having significant dental disease, so it often goes unnoticed at home. Bad breath is a sign that there is significant oral disease (periodontal disease), and is a good indication that your dog or cat would greatly benefit from dental care. If you are not sure if your dog or cat needs some dental work, please contact us at anytime for a brief oral evaluation.
RABBITS, CHINCHILLAS, GUINEA PIGS
Rabbits, chinchillas, and guinea pigs are some of our most common dental patients, and they should take advantage of dental month as well. These species all have teeth that continuously grow throughout life (fun fact to impress your friends: rabbit mandibular incisors grow 2.4mm/week, and maxillary incisors grow 2mm/week. That’s almost 1cm/month!!), and without appropriate care develop very serious disease secondary to disease and malocclusion (inappropriate alignment). One of the most common causes for euthanasia in rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas is severe dental disease. Appropriate diet, appropriate exposure to natural sunlight/UVB lighting when developing, and routine dental evaluation is the best way to prevent severe dental disease. Once dental disease is present it will never go away, and will require frequent management to keep the animal comfortable. Now is a great time to get that initial oral evaluation to help make sure you are doing all you can to keep your pet healthy, or to have that occlusal adjustment performed that you have been putting off.
FERRETS and HEDGEHOGS
Ferrets and hedgehogs very commonly suffer from dental disease, just like dogs and cats. It is not unreasonable to routinely brush your ferret’s teeth, but most people cannot brush their hedgehog’s teeth with much success. Hedgehogs have significant problems with dental disease, and we often find severe tartar, gingivitis, and tooth loss on oral exam. Periodontal disease is often surprisingly common in ferrets, and is very similar to what we see in cats and dogs. Oral disease is painful, and routine dental care will keep these animals healthy and happy.
I promise you that this is not a typo. Bearded dragons and other agamid lizards have what is called acrodont dentition (the tooth is fused to the crest of the jaw bones). We commonly see dental disease in these lizards, which initially presents as red and swollen gingival tissue (swollen gums). As the dental disease progresses we see significant calculus formation, swollen and recessed gingival tissue, and exposure of underlying bone. If the disease is not corrected we eventually see bone infections and significant loss of teeth and pain. Routine brushing (I use a cotton tipped applicator to brush), and yearly oral evaluations will keep your bearded dragon friend happy and healthy.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DENTAL MONTH
Dental health is honestly a very important part of keeping your pet healthy and happy. Routine oral maintenance will keep your animal happier and more comfortable, and will keep that breath smelling fresh and clean. If your animal does not need a dental procedure this year we will tell you, and we may even be able to give you some tips on how to lengthen the time between dental procedures. If your pet does need some dental work, this is a great time to consider getting it done. Please feel free to reach out to our doctors and staff at anytime if we can answer any questions about oral health or our dental month specials. Let’s get that breath smelling fresh once again, and let’s keep our exotic mammal friends eating and happy!!