Diva Dog and BYF to KYF
By Dr. Aime Berman
In a far off land, in a beautiful golden palace, owned by a very wealthy princess, there is a dog who has a private groomer and a personal dentist.
And this little Diva Dog, who wakes up to breakfast made of hypoallergenic caviar, sweet potatoes, organic rice and bottled water from Switzerland, cannot leave her bedroom each day without having her teeth brushed completely. Were this to happen, she would feel dirty and filthy and disgusting the rest of the day. She prances around the palace, her Princess leans down to hug and kiss her all day long, and she reclines on the sun-drenched veranda watching the Princess swim in the pool. She cannot imagine a day without pearly beautiful teeth, for it has never happened and never will.
At the bottom of the mountain, there is a village. It is filled with the paupers and workers and their dogs. One of Diva Dog’s cousins lives there. He is called Byf. He will Bite Your Finger if you go near his mouth. Byf wakes up each day and runs out the door to the neighbor’s trashcan. There are bones and scraps and all sorts of garbage and he eats until he is full. After his delicious meal of random crap from the trash, he sleeps under cars, wanders the streets for various morsels, then eventually goes home and sits by his master’s feet.
Byf’s master will pat his head and maybe scratch his belly once in a while. But when Byf tries to kiss his master, the master is repulsed by his dog’s breath and he turns away. Byf does not understand why his master will not let him kiss him and he gets sad and feels rejected. However, he is a happy dog for the most part and just keeps to himself. The local veterinarian comes around each year and checks him out, but Byf never lets the veterinarian examine his mouth or he will bite her finger. Sometimes his mouth feels gross because there are things caught in his teeth and he can feel massive amounts of tartar on his enamel. However, he doesn’t think twice about it and has no idea his breath causes his master to turn away from affection.
One day Diva Dog wanders down to the village and sees Byf. She reminds him that there is a family reunion in a month and that he should be there. The Princess would be catering the event and it will be spectacular. He is very excited and runs up and tries to lick his cousin in joy. She jumps back, puts her paw over her nose and screams! “What is that smell???”
Byf is embarrassed. With his tail between his legs, he sadly returns home. He feels unkempt and dirty and his teeth feel disgusting. He suddenly realizes why his master rejects him and decides that something has to be done. He takes his master’s cell phone and calls the vet. “BARK”.
The next day the veterinarian arrives and he knows what Byf needs. The master gives the veterinarian a few coins and Byf has a dental cleaning performed at the veterinary clinic. Under anesthesia, Byf gets his teeth cleaned. The tartar is taken off, the subgingival area is scaled, and the teeth are polished. Fortunately, there are no extractions and he wakes up with an incredibly clean mouth, free of odor and his tongue feels smooth against his clean teeth. He feels like a million bucks! He runs home and kisses his master’s whole face. The owner is delighted at his breath. Byf is happy that he can finally kiss his owner and even sleeps on the bed. He is also happy to attend the reunion!
But the reunion is a month away! How will he keep his breath smelling delicious and his teeth looking pearly white? He starts a routine with his owner. He grabs a toothbrush from the bathroom and runs to his owner. Twice a day Byf and his master get into a routine of keeping his teeth clean. Byf changes his name to Kyf (kiss your face).
Dental care here in Philadelphia is somewhere in between Diva and Byf. Some owners can brush their dog’s teeth with no problems. Others can’t or don’t want to. Some dogs can get their teeth brushed twice a day and still have problems. It is a combination of genetics and client compliance.
During your annual veterinary visit, your veterinarian will do a full physical examination, including the evaluation of your pet’s teeth and gums. If indicated, your veterinarian will suggest that you get your pet’s teeth cleaned under anesthesia. The indications can range from veterinary standards of care, to mild or severe tartar, to mild to severe periodontal disease (inflammation of the gums) or just bad breath.
I am often asked the question, “Does my pet NEED to get his teeth cleaned?” This question sends me into a tailspin. The word “need” is a pivotal word. I tell my clients that your pet could benefit from a dental because of what we believe and know to be important for oral hygiene and for maximizing the pleasantness of having a pet. Needing a dental would be indicated if an animal is in pain, if they can’t eat or if they have an abscess in their mouth that requires a tooth extraction to alleviate pain. Pain prevents a good quality of life and that is not acceptable for our pets.
There is no question that veterinarians will tell you your pet needs a dental because standard of care in our field is to keep your pet’s mouth clean and healthy for general health. This may be true, but if an animal is eating and happy, in spite of less than perfect oral hygiene, do they really need a dental? As with humans, keeping your pet’s teeth clean is prophylactic. Whether you get your pet’s teeth cleaned professionally or do routine home care, you are decreasing the chances and potentially preventing problems. Problems can include pain, infection and severe mouth disease.
Some Greyhounds are susceptible to severe dental disease. Due to a combination of their diet at the track and genetics, Greyhounds often require multiple tooth extractions. We are accustomed to dealing with severe periodontal disease. And while we do not have a dental specialist on board, which is a veterinarian who completes a Veterinary Residency in Dentistry, we are very skilled at handling animal mouths and much less expensive.
Most general practitioners can execute the basics – clean the teeth, x-ray the mouth, remove teeth. Dutton Road Veterinary Clinic prides itself in providing top notch dental care for patients who need dental cleanings. We do the basics and then some! We can even bond teeth, when indicated. We also use CO2 laser on extraction sockets, which cleans and sterilizes the extraction site to decrease infection. We try to emphasize the importance of home care after the dental, so that the animal does not re-accumulate tartar three weeks later. This may include dental chews and/or regular brushing. However, home care can be difficult. Most people don’t have the time, some animals won’t allow it, so we all do the best we can. The average dog is a Byf.
There is nothing wrong with having your pet’s teeth cleaned because you want them to have better breath. Be careful of cost. Basic dental cleanings do not have to be extraordinarily expensive. Call around and price compare for a basic dental cleaning if you are interested in having your pet’s teeth cleaned. We can also help. We are non-profit and we would be happy to offer our services to you and your four legged friends. Visit us anytime. We are open 7 days a week and would love to meet you!
Dutton Road Veterinary Clinic
10901 Dutton Road, Phila., PA 19154