“Do as I say, not as I do.” Many people may remember this phrase from their childhood after hearing it from their parents. Sometimes I think this is the case with veterinarians in some areas and especially when it comes to dental care.
What is the best way to prevent dental disease in pets? The answer is always brushing daily (or even better twice daily), but how many veterinarians do that? After doing a dental on my dog last fall (under the supervision of a veterinarian of course), I realized how dirty my dogs teeth were and he didn’t have any serious disease or extractions. So from that point on, I decided to actually follow the instructions veterinarians so often give. I had already been feeding my dog a prescription dental diet, so I continued with that, but added in daily brushing and dental chews to try to fight tartar and keep my dogs’ teeth healthy.
At first as I’m sure you can imagine my dog wasn’t thrilled with the new routine, but with some patience and rewarding he has gotten used to the brushing. The amazing thing is the difference that I notice. When I started, I hoped I’d see a decrease in the tartar build up on his teeth or that at least it wouldn’t build up as fast, but the biggest difference I noticed was his breath. It didn’t stink! It was wonderful!! I also noticed that if I skipped brushing (yes it happens, such as during midterm week) that his breath would quickly start smelling again, which prompted me to get back to business.
Owners can combat dental disease many ways, and the most appropriate approach and plan depends on a conversation between the veterinarian and client. An important fact to remember is that no matter what is ideal, the plan has to be something the owner can follow. The best plan in the world will be useless if the owner cannot follow up with it at home.