One of the benefits of getting your pet groomed on a regular basis, is the necessity for us to get into all the nooks and crannies of your pet. This allows us to find potential health issues that you may have missed or ignored...odd growths, lumps, overweight/underweight issues, scabs, fleas, irritated skin, etc.
One of the most overlooked health issues for dogs and cats is dental care. For some reason, most pet owners do not consider the health of their pet's teeth as something that needs to be thought about and maintained on a very regular basis. Maybe because they're animals, pet owners think nature takes care of this, but that's not the case.
Modern dogs and cats are human creations. We've bred them into hundreds of different breeds. We feed them everything from table scraps to low-cost, nutritionally-suspect food to high-end premium kibble to a diet of raw meat and/or home cooked meals. They spend stress-free hours on windowsills, lounging on couches and beds. This domestication results in most dogs and cats living very long lives...long enough for serious dental problems (gingivitis, plaque, calculus/tartar, and periodontal disease) to occur.
We see this frequently with our clients and their dogs. They come in complaining about "doggy breath". We'll expose their dog's teeth, and they'll be covered in tartar. Some dogs come in with such a bad case of tartar buildup, we can't even see the teeth...they're just greenish-brown growths embedded in inflamed gums. This condition poses a serious health risk to the dog AND is probably very uncomfortable, if not painful.
Most people avoid having their pet's teeth cleaned professionally (i.e. by a vet at least once per year) due to the high cost as well as concern over the use of anesthesia.
Because of these two concerns, I've been researching every possible dental option available that I could offer to my clients. Sadly, there aren't many low-cost and effective options that I've been able to find. I've come across a few kits that include squirting a gel into your pet's mouth, breath sprays and liquid drops in food or water. The reviews on all these products are mixed. Some people rave about them, others say they're worthless or even made their dog sick. Of course, as with all online reviews, I cannot confirm the veracity of any of the reviews - positive or negative.
I did come across one company that offers non-anesthetic dental cleaning. Their website even includes a video of an actual dental cleaning. The dogs in the video were extraordinarily well-behaved, though the video did include a disclaimer that this is not typical. It is not unusual for us to have some difficulty brushing the teeth of dogs, so I can't imagine most dogs will easily roll over, lie patiently in a dental technician's arm while their teeth are scraped, sprayed and polished. However, I have reached out to the company and hope to hear back from them soon. If they can convince me they're really as good as their website and testimonials claim, I'll gladly add them to the repertoire of services we offer our clients.
In the meantime, please brush your pet's teeth as often as you can - several times per week; and have your vet inspect them on an annual basis. I'll update this blog as soon as I find something truly effective and affordable.