Brushing teeth twice a day is something many British Columbians do out of habit, for better breath, cleaner and whiter teeth, and to help prevent diseases such as gingivitis. But when it comes to furry, four-legged family members, pet guardians across the province aren’t always so vigilant about dental health. And it can be costly.
“The BC SPCA spends more than $350,000 annually on dentals,” says Parm Takhar, BC SPCA chief operations officer. “We estimate that 15 to 20 per cent of animals who come into our care require dentals that range from a cleaning, to cleaning plus (tooth) extractions.”
When pet guardians take the time to pay attention to their pets’ dental health, the benefits add up, notes Vernon and District BC SPCA Branch manager Chelsea Taylor.
“Your pet will have better breath, and dental disease can lead to serious problems with your pet’s organs or other parts of his body,” she says. “Humans need dental care every day – why wouldn’t your pet?”
Retained baby teeth can cause problems as well, and pets who don’t get dental care can lose their teeth painfully, Taylor says, adding that dental chew treats and brushing your pet’s teeth regularly can help a lot.
Taylor points to two recent cases at the Vernon SPCA, where two small dogs who came into BC SPCA care required full dental treatments, including cleaning and several tooth extractions – eight teeth from one dog and 17 from the other, with their surgeries generously provided by Rose Valley Veterinary Hospital.
“We thought we’d remind pet guardians to think of their animals’ teeth, too,” Taylor says. “Your pets are good at hiding pain – you might not even know they have a serious dental problem unless it’s highly advanced.”