Dental concerns and care through the life stages of pets (Sponsored by Greenies)
Dogs and cats can experience oral health problems in every life stage. Oral disease and tooth damage can affect pets' quality of life and overall health. The key to successful prevention is client education, which needs to start early—and recur often. Clients can be reluctant to make oral health care a priority, but with the advent of chewing-based products, home care is now more convenient—and effective—in protecting pets of all ages.
Dr. Brook Niemiec: The adage of seven pet years to one human year is not accurate. Cats are more standardized, but determining when old age begins for different dog breeds can vary greatly. A Great Dane is incredibly different from a Chihuahua. So if we are trying to base life stages on age, we are going to have to adjust it for giant, large, medium, and small dogs.
Dr. Margie Scherk: Traditionally life stages have been discussed and defined with respect to nutrition, but I think that there are other parameters that we need to consider.
Niemiec: And you have to start thinking about periodontal disease at six months of age rather than at a year. I've seen Yorkshire terriers, poodles, and Maltese that have needed extractions as early as nine months of age. Cats, too. As soon as those permanent teeth are in, we need to start looking for and discussing periodontal disease with our clients.
Hurley: What are the most common dental issues you see with each life stage?
Debbie Boone: You have to think about chewing damage, too, in young animals. Owners don't realize that many hard "chew toys" cause dental problems.