Dental health is more than just bad breath | Ask Dr. Kait |

Pet owners frequently visit my clinic with complaints of their dog or cat’s bad breath. Aside from foul odor, some observe symptoms such as drooling, pawing at the mouth, swelling around the eyes or mouth, bleeding from the mouth, or a sudden refusal to eat. At this point, there is a serious dental problem. Once your pet has periodontal disease, a costly dental procedure under general anesthesia will be needed to address the infection, but what can you do to prevent this problem?

This may sound silly, but just like in humans, daily brushing is best. If you plan to brush your dog’s teeth, training should begin as a puppy. If you start early, most dogs can be trained to allow owners to brush their teeth once a day. Be sure to use a toothpaste designed for pets because many human toothpastes have ingredients that are toxic to pets. Besides safety, your dog will be much more inclined to accept a chicken flavored paste than a spicy mint flavor. A pet or baby toothbrush usually works best because of their small size. Be cautious if you use the type of brush that slips over your finger because your finger could get bit and if the brush slips off, your pet could swallow it. I acknowledge that brushing isn’t right for everyone, and I, myself, do not brush my dogs’ teeth. However, some do make the commitment and the dog benefits. Be aware that in most cases, cats do not tolerate brushing.

Dental wipes for pets are another option. These wipes are much like a baby wipe and are used over your finger to clean teeth. They do present a hazard of being bit, so they should only be considered if your pet is calm and cooperative. The wipes work like a brush by rubbing off surface debris. Most contain ingredients to minimize bacteria and plaque buildup, but they cannot get into the tight cracks like a brush can, so this is a downfall.

Dr. Kaitlen Lawton-Betchel grew up in Lemoore. An alumni of West Hills College and Fresno Pacific University, she graduated from Midwestern University in Arizona with her doctorate of veterinary medicine and her business certificate. Dr. Kait currently practices out of Karing for Kreatures Veterinary Hospital, also known as K+K.

The hospital is located at 377 Hill St., Lemoore. To make an appointment, call 559-997-1121.

Her column runs every other Thursday.

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