This post on pet oral health is brought to you by GREENIES. All opinions are our own.
I have three dogs who I love like children. Two of them are 12 years old. I like to think that the reason they are still so healthy in their advanced ages has something to do with how well I care for them. Yet despite all the attention, love and quality food I give them, I feel like I’ve missed a vital component of their health all these years. It’s so easy to overlook pet oral health when you don’t have obvious signs of distress staring you right in the face. I take my dogs for routine checkups that usually include a cursory glance in the mouth. I thought that was enough! Turns out, I was wrong. Taking care of pet oral health requires a lot more than just letting the vet take a peek in their mouth once a year. Thankfully, expert pet dentist Brook Niemiec set me straight!
I had the amazing opportunity to interview Dr. Brook Niemiec last week and pick his expert brain on how to best care for pet oral health. Dr. Niemiec not only took the time to answer my questions on this important subject, he shared how all of us can help provide much-needed dental care for service dogs. Take a look at my interview with Dr. Niemiec. Yes, I know I look very shiny in this video. I had some technical difficulties! It’s a learning curve. Dr. Niemiec and his canine helper Tom, on the other hand, look fantastic.
Key Messages on Pet Oral Health from Dr. Brook Niemiec
First, did you catch the part where he said he occasionally works on lions and tigers and bears? Oh my!! Seriously, that just amazed me! I learned so much from my interview with Dr. Brook Niemiec! Take a look at a few key points.
- Prevent, prevent, prevent! With the new vaccines lasting several years, many pet owners aren’t getting annual checkups for their pets anymore, which basically means we aren’t even getting that annual quick glance into their mouths! Dr. Niemiec explains that in many cases, pet dentists only see animals when there is a problem. Rather than waiting until it reaches that point, it’s better to prevent problems before they occur! Get your pet’s mouth checked on a regular basis. You see the dentist every six months, right? Well, your pet should see one regularly too!
- Do home checks. As Dr. Niemiec demonstrated with Tom, it’s easy to keep up on pet oral health at home simply by looking in your pet’s mouth! Check for signs of redness around the gums, which can indicate infection. Feeling adventurous? Take a whiff of your dog’s breath! If you want to run screaming in the other direction, there is a problem. My dog Maia used to have amazing breath. She actually used to pick her teeth with her claws! She even cleaned Tasha and Cooper’s teeth for them (sometimes by holding them down with her paws!). Maia is getting lax in her advanced age, though, and lately her breath has been pretty rank. Time to get her checked out!
- Brush their teeth. Just like brushing your teeth daily helps with your own oral health, brushing your dog’s teeth daily helps with pet oral health. If you can do it once a day, great! If not, Dr. Niemiec recommends using treats that help clean the teeth. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Approval on your dog’s treats. Dr. Niemiec highly recommends GREENIES brand. My dogs love GREENIES! They’re delicious (as far as I can tell, I’ve never tried them!) and they help clean your dog’s teeth. Cooper just licks his chops for them!
- Be careful of the “wrong” treats! I was so shocked to learn that some of the treats I give my dogs could actually be causing more damage! We often give our dogs hard bones to chew. Dr. Niemiec says that these treats can actually cause their teeth to break! He explained that I should be able to use my fingernail to put a dent in the bone. If I can’t, it’s too hard.
Help GREENIES Help Service Dogs Receive Pet Oral Health Care
Dr. Niemiec is working hard to get the word out about a great program from GREENIES to help service dogs receive oral health care. Why is this so important? Think about it: if you ever need the assistance of a service dog, you want that dog to be in the best health possible! Service dogs do so much to help humans. From search and rescue missions to getting veterans back on their feet to leading the blind, they are always working. Now we can help them keep working. How? It’s easy!
- Between now and October 31st, “like” the GREENIES Facebook page. GREENIES will donate $1 to the Oral Care for Service Dogs program for each new like!
- Also until 10/31, every time you tweet with the hashtag #greeniegives, GREENIES will also donate $1 to the program. Go ahead and share our post on Twitter! It already has the hashtag in the title for you. Follow GREENIES on Twitter to check out their series of tweets on the subject.
See how easy it is! Please take a moment to do one (or both!) of the above to help service dogs get the oral health care they need. Did you learn any new tips in this interview and article that surprised you?