The “Good” Word by Dr. Carol Good – Rockford Animal Hospital

*What does pet dental care have in common with the T.V. show, “Star Trek”?*

   Remember Spock, the Vulcan, first officer on the T.V. show, “Star Trek”? Besides the cool things he could do (like the Vulcan neck pinch and mind meld), I really liked the way he said good-bye, “Live long and prosper”.

What’s that got to do with a pet’s dental care? Well, come to find out, keeping a dog or cat’s teeth and gums healthy has a significant effect on how long and how well they live. In fact, research has shown that they will live 12 months longer than pets that don’t get regular dental care.

The reason this happens is the effect gum infection has on the rest of a pet’s body. You see, when there is a bacterial infection in the gums, the immune system sends out white cells and antibodies to fight the bacteria. The cells, bacteria and antibodies bunch together in the blood, forming something called immune complexes. Basically, junk that needs to be cleaned out of the blood by the kidney and liver. Continuous exposure to this junk causes inflammation and damage to these organs and, over a life time, they wear out sooner than they would have otherwise. Not only do we have that happening, but the constant bath of bacteria in the blood increases the risk of infection on the heart valves causing the heart to decline faster as well.

So, now we know how dental disease shortens a pet’s life, but how does it affect the quality of their life?   The plain truth is that gum disease and tooth decay hurt. Cats and dogs are no different than humans when it comes to feeling mouth pain. They just have different ways of expressing pain. They may hide, sleep more, not play or greet you as readily, stop chewing toys and prefer softer food. Occasionally they won’t eat, will paw at their mouth or cry when it’s touched, but this isn’t common. When we see dental disease in a pet’s mouth, the question is not “Are they in pain?”, but, “Would I be in pain if I had that issue?” The answer is, as Spock would say, “Indeed!”

So, if we want our furry friends to “Live long and prosper” what can we do about preventing and treating dental disease? Stay tuned to my next blog to learn how we can work together to make this happen (hint – Sanos, 6 month sealant). You can also check out the dentistry services page on our web site or give us a call at 866-9589 and ask what options are available. We have some special promotions going on during February, which is national “Pet Dental Health Month”.

Rockford Animal Hospital 63

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