Canine health care: Teeth are a key

It takes more than a healthy diet to have a healthy pet.
Pets need routine check-ups, shots, worming and tags. But that’s
not all.
Experts also said animals’ teeth must also not be overlooked
because there is a proven relationship between gum disease and
tooth decay that can lead to possible heart attacks, strokes and
other health problems.
It takes more than a healthy diet to have a healthy pet.

Pets need routine check-ups, shots, worming and tags. But that’s not all.

Experts also said animals’ teeth must also not be overlooked because there is a proven relationship between gum disease and tooth decay that can lead to possible heart attacks, strokes and other health problems.

“It (teeth cleaning) improves the animal’s overall health,” said Dr. Judith Yee at the Veterinarian Medical Teaching Hospital at the University of California, Davis’ Dentistry and Oral Surgery Services.

According to Barbara Sargent, a dental technician specializing in dental cleaning for animals, taking preventive measures to ensure the health of a pet’s teeth is the best route to take.

Sargent is often on the road, traveling from the Doggie Day Care in Redwood City to Country Groomers in Hollister.

“I even do house calls,” she said.

Once a month Sargent opens her office at Country Groomers to see her furry clients. She uses no drugs on her patients, but “if there is something I see that needs a vet’s attention I will call him and tell him what I see,” she said.

Sargent puts her patients at ease with gentle words and even gently massages the outline of the animal’s mouth, checking for sore spots.

“The whole idea is to condition the dog with a gentle touch,” she said while rubbing Apollo’s stomach. “It’s a bonding experience.”

As Sargent inspected Apollo’s mouth she discovered the 7-year-old collie has a slight case of gingivitis.

“He’s a little sore here,” she said, looking at him. “You’re not a bone-chewer are you?”

Taking the time to work with each pet is an import process in putting the animal at ease, also. Sargent spends about 45 minutes to clean each animal’s teeth, stopping in between to reassure them if they seem agitated.

“It’s all about praise and worship,” she said. “They have to know this isn’t going to hurt them.”

Good dental care for a pet also requires more than an annual check-up.

“My ultimate goal, though, is to teach the owners how to brush their dog’s teeth,” Sargent said.

If she suspects any gum disease she will go with the pet owner to the veterinarian with them if requested

“My concern is for them and their pet,” she said.

Another aspect to pet health care is massage therapy. Though Sargent does not offer the technique, she does massage the animals to keep them calm.

Sargent said canine breeds with long back and short legs, such as dachshunds, are predisposed to slipped discs and can benefit the most from massage therapy.

Dr. Tammy Stevenson of the UC Davis Veterinarian Hospital Orthopedic Department said most animal patients that benefit from massages are those in post-operative care.

“Massage therapy is typically used when the animal has gone through back surgery to repair a slipped disc,” she said.

To keep the animal’s joints flexible during a prolonged recovery, physical therapy requires moving the legs through a normal range of motion.

“It takes time for them to recover the use of their limbs,” Stevenson said. “And it feels good. I like getting massages.”

Poochie Smiles is located at 1 South St. For more information on dental care for your pet, call 630-0400.

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