Pet Dental Health Month
February is Pet Dental Health Month! Of course, we think that you should pay close attention to your pet’s dental health every month, but February is a great time to assess your routines and make sure that you are giving your pets the dental care that they need to stay healthy!
On a daily basis, we recommend brushing your pet’s teeth. It takes about 24 hours for plaque (which is soft and easily removed from the teeth) to harden into tartar (which is hard and firmly attached to the teeth). If you are only brushing once every week or two, there is plenty of time in between those brushing sessions for tartar buildup to occur. Tooth brushing can be a scary experience for pets if you rush into it, so be sure to take some time to teach your pet that tooth brushing is pleasant. If you aren’t sure how to brush your pet’s teeth, Dr. Lewis and her Australian shepherd Tig made a great instructional video! Watch their video here.
Chewing is the next best thing to brushing for at-home dental care. Short, frequent chew sessions (five minutes a day) are better than infrequent long chew sessions for preventing tartar buildup. Chew items should be soft enough that you can make an indent into it with your thumbnail- any harder and they could potentially fracture teeth. You can find a great list of products that have been shown to prevent plaque and tartar buildup at the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
Pets should have a thorough evaluation of their teeth and gums at their annual exams. Your veterinarian will carefully examine for broken teeth, loose teeth, gingivitis, missing teeth, and oral masses. When we start to see signs of dental disease, we will recommend a full oral evaluation under anesthesia. Just like when you visit the dentist, your pet will have a full scaling and polishing to remove tartar, dental x-rays to look for abnormalities under the gumline such as impacted or abscessed teeth, and a thorough oral exam to look for masses or other structures that are impossible to see in the awake patient. We learn so much about a pet’s health during dental procedures!
Dental care is important for all pets, but especially for very small breeds, brachycephalic (short-nosed) pets like pugs and Persian cats, and for individuals who build up tartar quickly. Some pets need dental cleanings as often as every six months to keep their teeth and gums healthy.
If you have any concerns about your pet’s dental care, please ask your veterinarian or veterinary technicians for help! We are passionate about dental health!
HAY IS ESSENTIAL
Not all species need tooth brushing for their dental health. Dental care for rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas is all about hay! Hay forms the foundation of a healthy diet for rabbits, guinea pigs, and chinchillas. These species rely on fiber to ensure that their GI tracts function properly and also have teeth designed for constantly grinding on rough plant fibers. Without hay, their gut bacteria become unhealthy, their teeth can become elongated, and they can develop diseases that are difficult and costly to manage. If you’ve found yourself with a pocket pet that doesn’t care for hay, get creative! Offer a variety of grass hays, including Timothy hay, orchard grass, and oat hay. Individuals can have preferences for different tastes and textures. Put hay up in a hay manger, down in a hay box, or tucked inside cardboard tubes. Many rabbits like having a big pile of hay next to or inside their litterbox. Hold off on offering pellets until later in the day to encourage your pet to eat his hay first. Don’t let your pet make the choice to avoid hay- it’s for his own good!
SATURDAY: IMPORTANT CHANGES
Beginning Saturday, March 6th, we will be adjusting how we operate on Saturdays to accommodate the growing staffing challenges facing the veterinary industry. We will be closed to business on Saturdays with the following exceptions:
We will continue to schedule wellness examinations and vaccine appointments from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm. These visits must be scheduled in advance.
We will be available for medication and food pickups from 8:00 am to 12:30 pm. Please request all medication refills at least 24 hours in advance. With our small team on Saturdays, we will be unable to accommodate same-day refill requests.
We will not have a client services team answering our main phone line on Saturdays. Voicemails, PetDesk requests, and emails will be retrieved on the next business day.
Thank you so much for all of your understanding and support as we’ve traversed the challenging roads of this past year. We are confident that these changes will allow us to continue to provide exceptional care for your loved ones while also fostering the health and well-being of our veterinary team.
EMPLOYEE SPOTLIGHT: HEATHER ANDERSON
Heather joined our team in February of 2019. She has two kitties named Silly and Louie and a pit bull/chihuahua cross named Walter. Heather has been married for over 26 years and is a mom to Thomas, who is a Seabee in the Navy, Ethan, who is training to be a Green Beret in the Army, and Emma, who is still in high school. Heather and her family love traveling, especially up to the North Shore. Heather has an amazing sense of humor and never passes up an opportunity to snuggle an especially adorable pet!
What do you love about veterinary medicine?
Pets calm you down. They are always there for you. I wanted to be able to help them any way I could, which led to me becoming a CVT. It’s amazing being able to do so many things in one day. Talking to owners, cuddling puppies/kittens (I am allergic to bunnies and guinea pigs), collecting samples, taking x-rays, monitoring during anesthesia, cleaning teeth, holding a scared animal, just to name a few. When I'm stressed, I just need to turn around and there's an animal to calm me down with just a pet. Who can ask for more?!
What do you love about working at St. Francis?
St. Francis has taken me in and given me a family. We care about each other and work as a great team. What first drew me was their doggedness to adhere to Fear Free approaches. As pet owners, we all know that our pets’ stress and fear is a big concern. We work hard at keeping that stress to a minimum.
Take a moment to say thanks to Heather for her compassionate care the next time you get a chance to talk with her!