Dear Readers: A few weeks ago, veterinarian Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM, contacted the Ellicottville Times to ask if we’d be interested in her writing a veterinary advice column. Of course, we jumped at the chance!
Not only is Dr. Fitzpatrick an expert in her field, but you might just know her, too, because she’s a 1983 graduate of Ellicottville Central School. She’s also a graduate of Colorado State University College of Veterinary Medicine and owns Mountain Mobile Veterinary Service in Eagle and Vail, Colorado, where she cares for small and large animals. She’s a frequent visitor to Ellicottville where her parents still live and her father Dana and brothers Greg and Dan own and run Fitzpatrick and Weller.
By Sheila Fitzpatrick, DVM
Are you noticing that Sammy, your dog, has had some bad breath lately? Or does your cat, Riva, have some very red looking gums?
Did you know that pets need routine dental care just like you do?
We veterinarians are very passionate about dog and cat dental health because we have seen the health consequences of poor dental care. For example, poor dental care can result in abscessing teeth, bone and sinus infections and systemic infections spreading to all of your pet’s vital organs. All of these health concerns can be PREVENTED with annual dental care.
What does that involve?
First, schedule your pet for an examination with your veterinarian of choice. At that time, ask that your veterinarian look at the teeth and gums for signs of decay, infection and fractures, as well as oral cancers. Should the veterinarian think it is then necessary, schedule a routine dental prophylaxis and polishing.
During this scheduled visit, ask to have dental radiographs (X-rays) taken, just as you do at your routine dentist visits! With the onset of digital technology in human and veterinary medicine, quick, easy and accurate radiographs can be taken which now show oral pathology, long before you can see any evidence of problems visually when opening your pets’ mouths.
So you ask? Do you have to have to “knock out” my pet do perform a quality dentisty?
The answer is yes, but, we can vary the level of sedation based on the health, age and mental state of the pet. To properly probe, examine, clean and X-ray the teeth, the pet will need some level of sedation, since during the cleaning process, many bacteria combined with water are floating around the mouth. With sedation, we can provide proper intubation of the pet so the particles do not go into the airways and cause life threatening disease.
What if my pet does have a bad tooth? The answer is that we have many remedies, including enamel repair, root canals, extraction of teeth we cannot save and long acting antibiotic treatments for the gums.
Still have questions? Please call your veterinarian today to schedule your pet’s dental exam and get on the road to preventative dental care to help your pet live a longer and happier life!