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The pivotal role of at-home oral care in our pets’ health

Posted on Thursday, April 11, 2024
Dr. Ent performs a dental extraction on a cat.

In the cozy corners of our homes, where the patter of paws is as familiar as the rhythm of our own heartbeats, our pets, both dogs and cats, thrive on the love and care we provide. As members of our families, their well-being is a reflection of the attention and affection we shower upon them. However, amidst the cuddles and playtime, there’s an aspect of their health that often goes unnoticed until it becomes a glaring concern – their oral health.

At the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital, a full-service, low-cost resource for pet owners, we’ve recently confronted a staggering reality. The demand for surgical dental disease treatment in dogs and cats has soared to such heights that our dedicated team is overwhelmed, facing a predicament that’s as heartbreaking as it is challenging. These complex procedures, vital for restoring health and happiness to our furry patients, are limited by the sheer volume of cases and our capacity to perform them. Consequently, we’ve been compelled to put a temporary pause on scheduling new procedures, now booked out for over six months. This situation underscores a critical message – the paramount importance of preventive oral health care at home.

Why oral health matters

Oral health is a window to your pet’s overall well-being. Neglecting it can lead to dental diseases that not only cause discomfort and pain but can also result in severe health issues, affecting vital organs through the spread of bacteria from the mouth. It’s a slow, silent assailant, often going unnoticed until it’s too late.

Empowering preventive care at home

Understanding the gravity of this situation, it’s imperative for pet owners to embrace preventive measures to ensure the oral health of their beloved companions. Here are some at-home strategies that can make a world of difference:

  1. Brushing teeth: Just like humans, regular brushing can significantly reduce plaque and tartar buildup in pets. With patience and the right pet-friendly toothpaste, this can become a bonding routine.
  2. Dental chews and treats: Products like Greenies are designed not just to satisfy your pet’s chewing instincts but also to help clean their teeth and freshen their breath. They are a supplementary approach to physical brushing.
  3. Oral health supplements: Certain supplements can bolster your pet’s oral health, working from the inside out to improve the condition of their gums and teeth. An example is a pill like 1-TDC or a water additive like Vetradent.

Donate dental supplies

In response to the overwhelming need for dental disease treatment, the Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital has embarked on a mission to alleviate some of the burdens through prevention. We’re currently seeking donations of dental supplies to assemble free dental kits for our patients. These kits are a lifeline for pet owners, especially those for whom regular cleanings at a veterinary dental specialist are financially out of reach.

Our mission has always been to provide quality care for pet guardians, and by equipping our clients with these dental kits, we aim to bridge the gap in oral health maintenance, ensuring healthy gums and teeth in dogs and cats. It’s a testament to our belief that no pet should suffer from preventable diseases due to financial constraints.

Your role in this journey

As we navigate through these challenging times, your support can help pave the way toward better health for countless pets. By adopting preventive oral care practices, spreading the word or contributing to our cause, you’re not just helping to ease the burden on our facility; you’re ensuring that the pets within our community live longer, healthier lives filled with joy and devoid of preventable pain.

Together, let’s vow to give our pets the best chance at a healthy life, starting with a smile that’s as bright and joyful as the love they bring into our lives.

Related: Richmond SPCA shares helpful tips for National Pet Dental Health Month

Dr. Courtney Bowers and Luke (dog)
Dr. Bowers and Luke

Dr. Courtney Bowers is the lead veterinarian at the Richmond SPCAs Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital.

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