I spent most of my Friday with a dentist. No, my appointment was Thursday am and I missed it because I have a cold and felt absolutely miserable that day. Friday, the dentist, his assistant and I worked on a poor dog who'd broken all for of his canines (those long pointed teeth that look so scary) 10 days ago. As you may guess, we don't have a clue how he did it but I can tell you he was in a lot of pain. Four root canals in one day can be quit painful as well. TG for pain meds. If only recovery from anesthesia was so easy. His face felt strange so he began pawing his face (like putting a hand over the place that aches). Then he woke up a bit more and began throwing his head around. That was when he smacked his poor sore muzzel on the floor, the concrete floor. No amount of NSAIDS would take that pain away. We pulled out the big guns and within a few minutes he was much calmer. Dogs in that much pain tend to bite at anything within reach. Be careful when approaching an injured dog or cat like those that have been ran over. Most animals don't have injuries like this and the enamel on dogs teeth is very dense and hard to crack. The dentist or any of us hadn't seen anything like this before. And we hope to never see it again.
Poor dental health is on of the most common and preventable health issues we deal with. How often do you lift the lips of your dog or cat? Yes, they build tartar too. Poor teeth mean more than tooth loss. The bacteria associated with plaque and tartar affect internal organs like the heart and kidney. Your pet may notice that they may not be as active or energetic. Many of our client notice a considerable difference in their pets energy levels when compared to before and after a dental cleaning.
Just brushing their teeth as often as twice a week vastly improves their gum tissue and reduces the amount of tartar buildup. Some dog breeds build more tartar than others. Large breeds like Labradors and Chesapeke Bay Retrievers don't build much tarter and little breeds like Daschunds and Schnauzers build loads of tartar. Even the short faced dogs like Pugs and Pekingese have dental problems because of overcrowding of teeth (yes, there really are doggy orthodontists and doggy oral surgeons).
www.petdental.com for more about pet dental health or http://www.firstlinemag.com/firstline/data/articlestandard//firstline/462006/385... for a pdf that explains the different stages of dental disease. http://www.healthypet.com/library_view.aspx?ID=142 explains more about the procedures and precautions veterinarians take to make sure your pet returns home without any further problems.
Here is how one vet technician trained her cats to have their teeth brushed. When I first started reading this I expected to read something like "How to give your cat a bath" which is totally hilarious but not how we do it in the real world. I would think dog's wouldn't be this difficult but my dog chews on the toothbrush so I pretty much stick with the rawhide routine (never more than 1 bone a week to 2 weeks). A tech I work with has it made with his dog Max. Max loves to play fetch with a tennis ball. While Max is hanging on to his tennis ball, he gets his teeth brushed. This is what she wrote.
It takes about 3-4 months to train a cat to tolerate this. Start slow. Choose the room you are likely to brush in and the time of day you're likely to do it. Call the cat to you with your finger loaded with pet toothpaste (has to be a flavor they like). When they arrive...reward that behavior by letting them clean your finger off. Do this for about two weeks. This is the point when my cats were waiting for me in the bathroom at 7am. I knew I could up the ante a bit.
Then I loaded the toothbrush with the paste. I tapped the counter and urged them to jump up onto it. When they did, they were rewarded by being allowed to clean the toothbrush off. I did that for 2 weeks. When they were waiting for me in the bathroom at 7 am on the counter, I knew I could add to the trick. They had to tolerate my hand resting on the top of the head while they cleaned off the brush. Two weeks again.
Now your thumb is in place by the corner of their mouth. Use it to pull the lip back and apply the toothpaste and let them go. Two weeks. Eventually, you can begin to move the brush. Finally...I have two cats that are as insistent about getting their teeth brushed as they are about being fed. God forbid I have to use the facility before they get brushed. I have to brush their teeth just to get rid of them.
I know it works. Try this at home and start training your clients to train their cats. This is the NUMBER ONE thing anyone can do for their cats.
Okay. It's Amy again. I guess teaching them to get their teeth brushed can't be forced, make it a treat or a game. Pets are like children covered in fur and walk on four feet and love to be entertained. Make brushing their teeth entertaining.