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Why Do Your Pet’s Teeth Cost an Arm and a Leg?

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by Rikki Schmidt

There’s no getting around the sticker shock. It costs more to clean pets’ teeth than people’s teeth. That’s because there’s a lot more involved. First, the process requires anesthesia. That means a trained technician has to be there to monitor it. Pre-procedure blood tests are taken to determine risks so the veterinarian will know how well the animal can handle the drugs. And the entire procedure takes a long time. This includes a thorough exam, extensive cleaning, including below the gum line where problems occur, charting and checking each tooth for disease. X-rays are taken if there is a problem with the bone or root. Often teeth have to be removed or the owner may elect to have a root canal or a crown done at a later date by a veterinary dental specialist. We’ve even seen an owner who had braces put on his coonhound.

All of these factors increase the cost when compared with a simple cleaning in a human mouth.  So for some folks, it’s like pulling teeth to get them to bring their pets in for periodontal therapy or oral surgery. But it’s money well spent because it can prevent more serious problems later.

People joke about “doggy breath” but dental complications can be fatal. An infection in a tooth can spread systemically throughout your pet’s body, affecting major organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. The animal could die. That’s why a dental checkup is a good idea. Maybe your pet belongs to the “lucky gene” club and won’t have problems. You can also help keep dental problems at bay by daily brushing.

Animals can’t tell you when they have a toothache and you certainly don’t want your furry friend to be in pain. So if you see your pet pawing at his face, ignoring his food or generally looking down in the mouth, something might be up with his teeth…or his gums.   Little dogs are particularly at risk since their small mouths are ideal for the buildup of plaque.  In fact, 80% of dogs and 70 % of cats have some gum disease by the time they are just three years old. That’s why veterinarians recommend regular dental checkups and encourage owners to brush their pet’s teeth.

We can show you how to make tooth brushing a fun game for your pet with the use of specially sized toothbrushes and liver and chicken flavored toothpaste. Make sure you brush them all, especially the back ones. But you only have to brush the outside of the teeth. And you don’t have to go as far as one gentleman whose 12 year old poodle had teeth as white and clean as a puppy’s. He didn’t just brush them, he flossed them.

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