Holistic Dental Health For Your Pets

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Holistic Dental Health for Your Pets

Dental disease is a big cause of silent pain, suffering, and ill health in companion animals. Even a small amount of tartar buildup is a problem that demands immediate attention!

What you can do holistically…

Firstly, let’s be clear – dental health is SUPER important for your pet’s wellbeing, vitality, and longevity. You MUST take your pets to a veterinary hospital for their dental care.

An entirely holistic approach simply doesn’t cut it when it comes to your pet’s teeth. More about why that is, and what you actually need to do later in this article.

Dental disease – in particular the buildup of tartar and calculus, with associated gingivitis (gum infection and inflammation) is a very common, often missed health condition in domestic pets. This quickly progresses to loss of bone around the teeth roots, causing severe pain and suffering.

When this happens, your pet has a chronic, painful infection in their mouth. This infection continually leaks toxins and pus into your pet’s bloodstream, causing damage to the heart, kidneys, other organ systems, and the immune system.

You can do a lot to support dental health holistically.

  • Diet: A complete fresh (or home cooked) raw foods diet is far better for your pet’s teeth than processed foods. Processed foods have a lot of starch (sugars) in them – and this promotes plaque and tartar formation on the teeth.
  • Size appropriate raw meaty bones: Bones help keep your pet’s teeth clean to an extent. However, they do not prevent plaque formation, and especially they do not stop dental disease below the gum line. You should give size appropriate raw (non-weight-bearing) bones as a meal at least twice weekly. And you need to understand that giving raw bones regularly is not enough!
  • Tooth brushing: This is scientifically proven to be the best preventative measure to stop plaque formation on the teeth. You’ll need to be patient, and more determined than your pet to make this work. I recommend starting very young. And doing this every day without fail!
  • A yearly veterinary health check: Your vet needs to carefully examine your pet’s teeth at least once yearly. If there is any sign of tartar buildup or gingivitis, then you’ll need to book your pet in for a dental…

What you can’t do holistically…

You can’t care for your pet’s dental well-being properly with only holistic approaches and treatments. The only way to care for your pet’s teeth properly is for them to have a general anaesthetic, dental x-rays, and a scale and polish (professional veterinary dental clean) at least once yearly.\

I’m deeply holistic in my philosophy and veterinary practice. And if I am truly holistic in my practice, I need to be open to western medicine when it’s the best thing for the animals under my care.

Here’s why your pet needs this intervention of a GA + dental x-rays + a scale and polish regularly…

You can’t tell how bad the teeth are with only a visual examination! (And your vet can’t either)

There is so much going on underneath the gum-line it’s not funny. Very not funny for an animal with a tooth root abscess! I did a dental on a dog last week, and the teeth really didn’t look too bad on the conscious examination.

The dental x-rays revealed how much of a train wreck this poor dog’s mouth really was. We had to extract 11 teeth!

Even in a dog who has teeth that appear to be clean and intact on the conscious examination, there may be micro-cracks in the crown (invisible to the naked eye) that allow infection to enter into the tooth, causing a tooth root abscess.

It’s also impossible to probe the gumline around the teeth top check for gingival pockets while your dog (or cat) is awake. And this has to be done to have an acceptable dental examination. Anything less than this should be considered malpractice, in my opinion.

A General Anaesthetic is a very safe procedure.

I have a lot of holistically minded clients who are terrified of having their pets go under anaesthetic. The risk is very, very low, even in older animals with other health problems. And the risk is absolutely necessary because dental disease has an awful impact on quality of life. It’s a painful, debilitating condition.

Even if the animal is very old and has other risk factors, I strongly recommend a dental when they have a foul, stinking, infected mouth. The pain and suffering these animals have to endure is off the charts!

What about these non-GA dentals I’ve been hearing about?

No. Not. Never.

Here’s why these are never a good idea.

Number one: having a scale and polish is painful, and your animal has to be restrained while the procedure is done if they are awake. This is stressful. I would never put my pet through this myself. Why? Because I know how uncomfortable it is for me when I have it done.

Number two: You simply cannot examine the mouth adequately while your pet is awake, let alone scale and polish beneath the gumline. And if you don’t scale and polish beneath the gumline, you’re leaving pain and infection active in the mouth.

I have a friend who is a holistic veterinarian and an expert veterinary dentist. She told me of several cases of animals who came to her hospital after having conscious dental cleans several times over the years. The tops of the teeth looked all nice and shiny. Once the animals were alseep, she found that the story below the gumline was a train wreck. She had to extract practically every tooth in these animals’ mouths.

The bottom line is this:

The only way to care for your pet’s teeth properly is to have a regular dental examination, dental x-rays, and a scale and polish – at least every 12 months. I’m just about the most holistic vet you’ll ever meet. And this is the honest truth.

Doing all of the holistic preventative care will make these regular dentals under general anaesthetic a lot easier. Your pets will be far less likely to lose teeth. When they do need their regular dental, it will also end up being a lot less expensive.

You need to understand this one thing.

There is no alternative to a regular dental examination, dental X-rays, and a scale and polish if you want to make sure your pets have a healthy mouth.

If your pet has the slightest signs of tartar or gingivitis, they need their next dental yesterday. I’m not joking! Going back to work in a veterinary hospital (a holistic one) has really opened my eyes to how many animals are walking around with a mouth full of suffering. Please don’t let your pet be one of them!

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