Hello, Tularosa Basin and Sacramento Mountains communities! I’m veterinarian Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care. Welcome to Vet Minute.

Today’s topic is oral health in dogs and cats. Dogs and cats can and do get plaque, tartar, and periodontal disease. These issues can cause not only bad breath, but also in some cases severe oral pain, infection of heart valves, and liver or kidney problems. We have seen dogs present to us with such severe periodontal disease that their jaw bones are literally being eaten away by infection. The only cure for this is removal of affected teeth. Can a dog still eat, missing most of their teeth? Absolutely, and will frequently feel immediately better with the removal of painful and infected teeth. It’s not just dogs! Cats, too, can have severe gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, due to plaque and tartar buildup. Cats can even get a painful condition in which the immune system starts attacking the teeth because of the foreign material – food debris and bacteria – that they harbor. So, what’s the solution? There are several things you can do to improve your pet’s oral health. One of the best things is to brush your pet’s teeth daily. Schedule an appointment and we would be happy to show you how. If you are skeptical that your pet will let you brush his teeth, check out the lists of Approved Products for Cats and Dogs at the veterinary oral health council website, www.vohc.org (that’s victor, Oscar, hotel, Charlie DOT Oh-ar-gee). These approved products, including antimicrobial water additives, toothpastes, oral gels and sprays, and chew treats, have all been tested and proven to reduce plaque and tartar. Finally, many pets can benefit from ultrasonic cleaning and polishing of the teeth under anesthesia, which is really the only way to get under the gumline and do a thorough job. One side note: while chewing on hard things can definitely reduce tartar, power chewers are at risk of fracturing teeth if they chew on bones, antlers, and hooves. Check with your vet about safer alternatives.

This “Vet Minute” brought to you by Dr. Katie Lambden of Paw in Hand Veterinary Care on Cuba Avenue in Alamogordo, and KHII. Submit your questions for consideration on upcoming shows by visiting our website at pawinhandvet.com or calling us at 434-4343.