Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh practices as a holistic veterinarian and has been in the field for over 35 years. Dr. Maro’s continual efforts to learn new methodologies that improve quality and prolong the life of animals has been her life’s work. Cynthia Maro often remarks that she finds the greatest joy when a pet owner’s hope is restored when pets with “untreatable illnesses” respond positively to the integrative care they receive under her care.
One area where pet owners can impact their pets’ quality and length of life is through attention to oral hygiene. Often, pet owners are not aware of the importance of maintaining proper dental care for their dogs and cats– and that poor dental care will negatively affect them, creating problems including tooth loss and more serious complications like organ damage. In the following article, Dr. Maro discusses dental healthcare for dogs, and how to improve and maintain a dog’s general wellness.
Teeth play a huge role in an animal’s life. They are used for grasping food, tearing, chewing, self-defense, protection of family, and some might argue, even smiling. While most wild animals can take care of their teeth through diet selection, our domesticated pets might need a little more help says Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh.
Dogs are our best friends so it’s important to take care of them and make sure they’re in the best health they can be. While taking them to the groomer or making sure they have their annual check-ups are vital, dental care for dogs is of utmost importance. Cynthia Maro shares this info on the importance of dental care for dogs.
Why Dental Care is Important for Dogs
According to PetMD, dental care is just as important for dogs as it is for humans. Dogs develop plaque leading to bacterial buildup in the oral cavity, without proper cleaning which can result in serious oral and sinus infections and internal medicine conditions, says Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh.
• Tooth Loss
When humans don’t brush or floss, bacteria can affect the roots of the teeth, causing tooth loss and decay. The same happens for dogs. According to Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh, infections can make the gums recede, loosening their root attachments and allowing for bacteria to penetrate deeper into the root sulcus and bone surrounding the tooth. Eventually, teeth may fall out or need to be pulled.
• Bad Breath
Good dog dental care controls halitosis or bad breath. Gingivitis means that food particles can sit in a dog’s mouth and hold bacteria in the gingival pockets, which means there’s a higher chance of halitosis. Halitosis makes being near a pet less enjoyable and increases the risk of your pet sharing an infection with an owner, says Cynthia Maro.
• Mouth Pain
Dental diseases can be very painful for dogs, making it harder to chew, eat, or even play, which in itself can decrease a pet’s quality of life. Root abscesses, which may show no external signs, can even cause dogs to snap or change behavior towards humans and other household pets.
• Organ Damage
Bacteria that enter through the mouth can access a dog’s bloodstream and cause damage to other organs. The most common places are the heart, the kidneys, and the liver. When organs become damaged from infections or abscesses, dogs can become very ill.
Good Dental Care
Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh says that good dental care isn’t hard to achieve with a dog and small changes in home and veterinary oral care can make a pup’s mouth smell fresh with shiny white teeth. The American Kennel Club has a few suggestions that include the following:
• Brushing The Teeth
Dogs need to have their teeth brushed too! Ideally, brushing a dog’s teeth every day is good, but most dogs will benefit from tooth brushing once a week. There are special doggy toothbrushes that make it easy to get into nooks and crannies, and some tasty kinds of toothpaste that will make the experience more enjoyable.
• Feeding for Improved Oral Health: Raw bones in the diet (for pets whose digestion is good!), Dental Chews and Dental Sprays
Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh explains that an easy way to clean a dog’s teeth is to have dental chews or dental spray to use daily after a meal. Dental chews naturally clean a dog’s teeth while also satisfying the dog’s need to chew. There are a lot of ridges and different shapes that can get into the nooks and crannies of the teeth.
Cynthia Maro says that dental sprays are easy to use in that just a few spritzes in a dog’s mouth will kill plaque-causing bacteria. Improvement in plaque and gingivitis can occur over time with regular use.
• Vet Visits
Lastly, make sure to schedule at least twice annual visits to the vet explains Dr. Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh. Your vet will examine your pet’s mouth to check for gingivitis, tartar, oral masses and growths and discuss a plan for maintaining your pet’s oral and overall health. They also will recommend whether it’s time to schedule a professional dental cleaning. Your vet has access to important tools to diagnose disease, such as x-rays, CT and the safest anesthetics, if any oral surgery is necessary.
Poor Dental Care and Health
Poor dental care often results in internal infections, sinus infections, and even heart conditions, including valvular infections, like endocarditis, which lead to heart failure. With this knowledge, you can take action to assure your pet receives both home care and professional dental cleanings.
Dental Care and a Dog’s Overall Wellbeing
Poor dental care can directly affect a dog’s health. As mentioned before, bacteria can move from the mouth and travel to other organs within the dog’s body, which can cause serious damage.
When a dog is in pain, owners often do not see outward signs and often mistake changes in behavior as “just getting old”, says Dr. Cynthia Maro of Pittsburgh. Bad dental care has the potential to shorten a dog’s lifespan, but regular health maintenance can prevent devastating outcomes and expensive vet bills for the owner.
Frequency of Teeth Cleanings
Similar to humans, dogs’ teeth should be cleaned daily at home. Dr. Cynthia Maro recommends a short routine of a few seconds to apply an enzymatic cleaner after the morning meal and dental spray or water additive before bed. When oral health is maintained, an annual dental prophylaxis can help your pet keep their teeth healthy.
Keep in mind that some breeds of dogs, such as chihuahuas, pugs, and bulldogs, need more frequent cleanings, due to genetics or malocclusion. Smaller dogs tend to have more shallow roots and some of the brachycephalic breeds have squished faces that mean their teeth are overcrowded, turned or deformed.
Whatever your pet’s current age and health care status, Dr. Maro says there’s hope for improved oral and overall health. Be certain to get your pet to the vet for an oral exam, at least annually.