Sunday, August 2, 2015

Dr Liz's Dental Talk - National Pet Dental Month is here!

For all loving pet owners, all over Australia, August is a very very special and important month for your pet.

It is National Pet Dental Month!
Maya sticking her tongue out during Dr Liz's dental check!

I get excited about this month EVERY year.... simply because, well, don't we all get excited about things that make us happy?

As a vet, I get excited when I examine a pet, and see beautiful healthy gums and nice white teeth.

As a vet, I get excited when I examine a pet, and I can see the efforts that the pet owner is making to try to keep their pet's gums and teeth healthy - whether it be through brushing, dental protectant diets, the use of daily dental chews or water additives.

Yes, I get excited daily at Russell Vale vets.

But in August, I get super excited - as there is now a national focus on something that virtually all pets have in common  (unless you are a chicken) - that is, teeth!

We get to see "not normal" things like this!

Those of you are have been with us at Russell Vale Animal Clinic for a while now, will be all too familiar with the SMS reminder for your pet's dental check.  A big thank you to those who take these reminders seriously, and bring your pet in for them.

Those of you who have never been in to see us, or, perhaps, your pet has not been to a vet recently, then this is your chance to take advantage of a free dental check (plus we do a bit more too for free).

"But there's a catch"

Of course, the dental check at the vet is never totally free is it.

It has a cost... a big cost... one that so many pet owners refuse to pay.

The cost is time - whilst there are so many amazing pet owners who will take the time  for their loved pet, there are, sadly more pet owners who won't. 

Let us not forget the other "hidden cost" of a FREE pet dental check - and this is a big one that many pets hate to face (and pay) - that is the cost of guilt.

Say, you take your pet in for their free dental check, and the vet (it may be me, or it may be a vet near where you live),  find red gums which bleed easily, pus with teeth wobbling in the breeze.

How would you feel being told all of this?  Some pet owner feels absolutely awful.... appreciates the information and acts on it.  Some pet owners are horrified ... and instead of fixing the problem, blames the vet and feels guilty.

The pet owener says "They are eating just fine.  They are not in pain"

In the pet owners head (and sometimes out loud to me) they says to themselves "how dare they tell me that I am neglecting and cruel to the pet that I love so much."

If a pet owner brings their pet in for a dental check, and we identify dental disease, we do not do so to make you feel guilty, but to educate you on steps you can take to improve the dental (and therefore) overall health of the pet that you love so much.

And pain.... that is one of the things we love so much about our animals.... they don't complain much - but if you have ever had a periodontal infection (and I have), it is painful.  I still ate though, as my body shape will testify too! My other alternative was to starve, and I didn't fancy that too much. 

Unless you physically planted plaque on the teeth, or superglued the tartar, it's not your fault, and thus you have no need to feel guilty. 

 It is a well documented fact that 80% of pets who are 3 years of age or older will have some form of dental disease - and this is even with owners doing the best pet dental care they can. 

After all, I go to my dentist each six months for my dental cleaning, but I do brush my own teeth two times a day.  I don't blame my dentist because tartar is building up.  I blame the fact that I have teeth in my head, and I am getting older.

But, if you know your pet has dental disease, and you refuse or deny it, then by all means, feel as guilty as you like.  

AS a vet, I am  doing what all of us are  trained to do - which is the examination, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of disease in all animals under our care.

Where ever you may be in Australia, there is going to be a vet who is involved in National Pet Dental Month. Make the effort each year for your pet's health sake.
Identifying and treating disease, including dental disease.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi. We look forward to seeing every pet, at any time of the year, for their FREE dental check, as our dental checks are free all year round (I told you I was mad, didn't I).

See you soon!