Dental disease in pets: A problem to chew on
By Phillip Snyder, Executive Director
Published in the Englewood Sun on September 14, 2014
So far this year, 21 pets have been given a second chance at life through Suncoast Humane Society’s “Shelter Angel” Medical Fund. This is owed to the generosity of donors who specify that their donations of $100, $250, $500 or more be restricted to that program.
The funding is used for pets that are surrendered to the Society’s Animal Care Center with medical problems that, with some special care and treatment, can be adopted and enjoy a special quality of life in a new permanent home.
It is surprising to note that 11 out of the 21 Shelter Angel candidates in 2014 were suffering from severe dental diseases. Included in this number was a 7-year-old Shih Tzu named Buky, a 9-year-old Ragdoll cat named Pearl and two 9-year-old Miniature Poodle sisters named Maggie and Lilly.
Buky and Pearl were adopted following the removal of several teeth; I mean 9 and 13, followed by an extensive cleaning and days on antibiotics and pain medication. It is obvious that soft diets will be the order of the day from now on. Maggie and Lilly are following a similar regimen provided by the Society’s medical team. Area veterinarians are also used quite frequently when special medical procedures are required. The two sisters are now wagging their tails, hoping to be adopted and share a home together.
For various reasons, the previous owners of these pets were unable to care for them. They probably were unaware of the pain their pets were experiencing. And yet, there are warning signs that can alert you to the problem of dental disease.
According to the ASPCA, warning signs that your pet may have an oral problem include very bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums, tumors in the gums. cysts under the tongue and loose teeth.
Start with the lip service technique. Part the lips and examine the gums and teeth. The gums should be pink, not white or blood red. There should be no signs of swelling. The teeth should be clean.
Then perform the breath test. It probably won’t smell like roses, but, if it is especially offensive or just plain knocks you out, it may be time for a visit to your veterinarian.
A proper diet, appropriate chew toys, and regular veterinary check-ups can go a long way to avoid dental diseases. And get your pet a tooth brushing kit and brush, brush, brush. Believe it or not, it does the trick.