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Garza County News

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Dr. Kerry Wink

The Difference Between Your Car and Your Pet

Published Jan. 26, 2012 @ 9:42 a.m.

A couple of weeks ago I talked about the importance of dental care regarding your 4-legged family members.  Since then, I’ve had numerous calls asking about dentals, how they are performed, and if their pet should get one?   I recently heard a medical doctor say we (humans) treat our cars better than our own bodies.  Why do we invest in oil changes routinely at 3,000 miles, have brakes checked, tires rotated, but we don’t keep that kind of maintenance/health schedule for our own bodies?  I’ll leave this question for Dr. Edwards, but the same can be said about our pets.  Routine care is essential to a healthy, long lasting life for your pet.  One of the most important routines suggested by veterinarians is dental care.

Let me make a quick side note of how human dentist have it easy.  This is strictly a personal opinion!  Sorry Dr. McCook, but human dentists have patients which sit there voluntarily, open their mouth for you, hold it open until your done, and then tell you which area of the mouth hurts.  We vets don’t have that luxury.  Can you imagine Sarge, the German Sheppard, sitting nice and pretty on the exam table, opening his mouth for me, then me sticking my hand in there to pull a loose tooth?  Anyone want to volunteer to stick their hand in there? You go right ahead. I’m no fool. 

However, human dentists would say I have it much easier because I sedate all my patients.  Pet dentals are considered a surgical procedure.  We put the pet under general sedation for both their own safety as well as my own.  This also allows for a more thorough exam and cleaning.  As with any of my surgeries, ALL my dentals start with a pre-surgical exam and blood work, either a Complete Blood Cell Count (CBC) or a CBC along with a General Health Profile (which checks the major organ functions).  Sorry, but there’s no choice in this option.  I must know if your dog is healthy enough to survive anesthesia and the procedure.  You won’t believe the number of surgeries I opt not to perform just due to what the blood work shows.  It’s a pet’s life on the line and it’s my job to make the best decision for the pet.

If their blood work looks good, then we will proceed with the sedation of the patient.   Once the patient is sedated, another more extensive oral exam is preformed.  All of the tartar build up is broken off of the teeth.  If any extractions are needed, they are done at this time.  Each individual tooth is then cleaned with an ultrasonic scaler.  After the teeth are cleaned, each tooth is then polished.  Finally the mouth is then rinsed out, and the patient goes into recovery to wake up from anesthesia. 

Dentals can drastically improve the way a pet feels and acts.  I’ve had several clients say after having a dental their dog or cat has become more active and almost acts like a youngster again.  This is even true after pulling several teeth. When I say several, sometime that could be up to 16!  Yes, I’ve pulled 16 teeth out of a 2 pound Chihuahua!  And yes, she ate regular dog food.  She felt better after her dental than she had ever been.  True story.  Ask my mother since it was her dog…if you dare.  Love you, Mom!

Like some of our car maintenance, dentals should be preformed at least once a year.  We can add a few things to make this time be extended out some, but we recommend you begin with a dental then add these to your regimen for optimum results.  First, if your pet will allow, you can brush their teeth.  Yes, that's right brush their teeth with toothbrush & pet toothpaste.  Second, you can feed a prescription dog food which will help keep the tartar off and not build up as fast.  There is a non-prescription food out there which does a pretty good job as well.  Finally, there are oral solutions available which may help with some of the bacteria development in the mouth.  We can help you with any of these treatment options. 

February is National Dental Health Month.  To celebrate Garza County Animal Hospital is offering 20% off on all of our dental packages now through the end of February.  You’ll also receive free dental products and information when you come in.  Call today to setup a dental for your 4-legged family member.  If you have any additional questions you can reach us at 806-495-3726.

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