MADISON, WI – While animals rarely get cavities, they are susceptible to periodontal and gum disease. In fact, studies show that 80 percent of dogs will have some form of dental disease before their third birthday. Bad teeth and gums can create bigger health risks to your furry friends; they can increase the chance of your pet having issues with their heart, kidney and other vital organs that could potentially cut their lives short. A clean and healthy mouth can be a vital step in adding years to your pet’s life.
To this end, February has been designated “National Pet Dental Health Month” in order to help pet parents learn how important it is for their dogs to have good oral hygiene for a long and healthy life.
“Maintaining your dog’s healthy mouth isn’t nearly as difficult as it may sound,” says Lis De Souza, owner of both Serenity Pet Salon & Spas in Madison. “It may seem foreign and daunting at first for both owner and dog, but you really should try to make it part of a routine.”
De Souza says that for homecare dental health, one of the best things a pet parent can do is brush their pooch’s teeth often. Ideally, brushing a canine’s canines should be done daily if at all possible, but three times a week should be the minimum. She says a traditional toothbrush works well, but there are also products like finger brushes that may seem less invasive to your dog. She also says to make sure to use dog toothpaste as human toothpaste can be poisonous to dogs.
“When you’re first starting out, you may just want to get your dog used to having something that’s not edible in his mouth,” says De Souza. “It could just be your finger.”
There are also treats and bones available that assist in keeping a dog’s teeth white and clean, and also keep their breath in check. De Souza says to stay away from things like rawhide bones or anything that can become gummy and stick to or in between the teeth.
“A lot of people don’t know there are also liquids that can be added to their water that help break down plaque and tarter,” De Souza says. “There are certainly options. Brushing is still the ideal, though.”
As a groomer, De Souza says that she and her staff at Serenity Pet Salon and Spa are often the first to detect if there is an issue with a dog’s dental health. Most people have their dogs groomed every 6-8 weeks and tooth brushing is one of the many services they provide. Their groomers are familiar with the dogs they see and look for any sign that something might be wrong.
“We can see up to 300 dogs in a week,” says De Souza, “and I’d guess that about 75 percent of the adults have some sort of oral health issue.”
She says they’ve seen quite of bit of excess tarter buildup, but they’ve also discovered chipped and loose teeth. “We’ve even found foreign objects in the gum line, which is usually some type of bur.”
Whenever they find something unhealthy about a dog’s dental situation, they alert the pet parent and recommend a vet visit.
“With puppies it’s usually that they need some help losing their baby teeth,” she says. “But with adults it can be any number of things. Probably the worst is when a dog has terrifically bad breath. Then you’re pretty much guaranteed there’s an issue that is going to require a vet visit.”
De Souza says aside from what owners can do to help maintain their dogs’ healthy teeth and gums, the vet also plays an important role. She recommends having the vet take a look at your pet’s teeth at least once a year.
“Between the owner, the vet, and the groomer, a dog’s oral health can be great,” she says. “And that helps the dog lead a long, active and healthy life.”
About Serenity Pet Salon & Spa
Lis De Souza has been grooming dogs since 2004. She opened Serenity Pet Spa and Salon in September of 2015. She is a National Certified Master Groomer, a Groom Team USA Member, a National and International Award-Winning Stylist, and she conducts seminars nationwide. Serenity Pet Spa & Salon’s mission is to give pet owners ease of mind by providing a compassionate grooming experience for their loving animals. They have an open and welcoming environment wherein their professional groomers are better able to provide pets with the best care possible. They consider every client a member of their family and they treat every dog like one of their own. They have two locations in Madison: Westside at 6039 Odana Rd. and Eastside at 5550 Eastpark Blvd. To learn more, visit serenitypetspamadison.com.