Posts Tagged ‘pet oral health’


     It’s never too late to start brushing your pet’s teeth, but persuading Fluffy and Spike to go along with it can be a challenge. Here are 8 great tips to help you ease your pet into a new part of its daily routine:

  1. Introduce a brushing program gradually: training your pet for this procedure may take several days or weeks.
  2. At first, dip your finger into beef bouillon for a dog or tuna water for cats, and rub your finger over the pet’s mouth and teeth.
  3. Make these initial sessions brief and positive.
  4. Introduce gauze on your finger with the same beef or tuna flavor and begin rubbing the teeth in a circular motion.
  5. Before graduating to a soft-bristle toothbrush, put a small amount of pet toothpaste on your finger and allow your pet to taste it.
  6. Place the toothpaste on the toothbrush and allow your pet to lick the bristles.
  7. Apply a small dab of toothpaste to a moist toothbrush and begin brushing gently at a 45° angle away from the gumline.
  8. Do not use a toothpaste designed for people; it contains ingredients that may upset your pet’s stomach.

     February is National Pet Dental Health Month.
Tips reprinted from the Pet Owner’s Guide to Oral Care, available at our clinic.

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We were visited recently by an old friend – the tooth root abscess.  Okay, maybe not a “friend” so much as a “disease.”  The tooth root abscess (we’ll call it TRA for short) is a cheeky (literally) little brute which we often see in dogs with poor dental health. 

     Although any size pet can develop TRA for any reason, it is our experience that pets with small mouths  –  think poodle, Chihuahua, ShihTzu, etc.  –  appear more susceptible to periodontal disease-based abscesses, whereas large dogs are more likely to develop an abscess due to trauma from fighting, chewing hard objects, or receiving a blow to the mouth.

     The responsible tooth is the last premolar of the upper jaw (known as the carnassial tooth) on either the right or left side of the jaw.  The tooth has 3 roots which, when infected, can cause swelling, followed by a draining wound just beneath the eye.  Many times, pet owners believe the swelling is the result of a bug bite, puncture wound or an eye infection.  Admittedly, it can be difficult to tell the difference until the pet’s mouth is examined.

     In the best-case scenario, the pet will be healthy enough for general anesthesia and tooth extraction or root canal.  Unfortunately, in some TRA cases, the pet is also aged, debilitated, or has a heart condition exacerbated by the bacteria present in the mouth, which makes it a poor risk for anesthesia.  In those instances, treatment with antibiotics and pain medication are attempted first.

     The best way to prevent a tooth root abscess is to start your pet on a dental program when young and keep it going.  You can clean your pet’s teeth after meals with a pet dentifrice (toothpaste from the grocery store is not recommended.)  Schedule a teeth cleaning when tartar starts to build up, and watch for warning signs of poor dental health such as bad breath, missing teeth, and red or swollen gums. 

     Above all, the worst thing you can do if you suspect a tooth root abscess is to forgo treatment.  Such a disease is unlikely to cure itself.  More commonly, it will worsen and spread to other teeth or even affect the eye.  In the meantime, the pet may be experiencing pain which will cause it not to eat.

     If you suspect your pet has a tooth root abscess, don’t delay.  Take your pet to the vet.  ~~  Jen

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