Archive for April, 2011

Regular Dental Care Pays Huge Dividends

There is little question that your dog ‘s or cat’s oral hygiene program , or lack thereof, is the weak link in your efforts to keep your pet healthy and free of disease.   There are three reasons that pet owners neglect their pet’s dental care.   The first is that pets are rarely thrilled with the process of daily dental hygiene and are often unwilling to cooperate, thus making such attempts frustrating for pet caregiver and pet alike.   The second reason is simply trying to remember to do it or to fit it into a day full of many other demands.     Thirdly is the necessity to anesthetize pets in order to perform a thorough annual dental prophylaxis and polishing.     All three of the above are legitimate concerns and the problems are clearly understood by most veterinarians.    In the following paragraphs I will address this issue and try to create the understanding that, all though not always easy, any and all efforts to keep your pet’s mouth healthy are extremely worthwhile in maintaining your pet’s good health well into his or her senior years.

Let me begin by pointing out that all though regular dental hygiene may provide your pet with a whiter smile and sweeter breath these are the least of the reasons you should make the effort to maintain the health of your pet’s teeth and gums.    Let me explain.   It is a well known fact that by the time dogs and cats reaches 3 years of age 70% have already developed periodontal (gum) disease.   This gum disease is a result of oral bacteria rapidly multiplying in the dental tartar which provides these injurious microbes with a great breeding ground.    As a result of this large oral bacterial population your pet’s gums may become inflamed and painful, however even more concerning is that these bacteria and their toxins    will enter into the your dog or cats blood stream and travel to the kidneys, liver, and heart where they will slowly damage these organs and over many years significantly contribute to the onset of kidney and liver failure.   Of course, in the early stages of this process there are few if any outward signs of internal organ involvement and the only compelling reason to make the effort of maintaining  good oral hygiene is  your pet’s bad breath,  inflamed gums,  ugly yellow tartar, on the his or her teeth,  and possibly a reduced appetite resulting from painful loose teeth.     Unfortunately the appearance of the mouth is just a preview of more serious problem that will evolve with time.   So try to remember that extending the healthy life of your pets begins when they are young and not with heroic measures when they are old.    You can never make up for this missed opportunity by suddenly becoming highly concerned and attentive when your older pets health begins to fail.

Veterinarians understand well and are highly respectful of the concerns and fears pet owners have of putting their pet under anesthesia.      There is no doubt that anesthesia poses risk for pets just as it does for people.      This being said, if your pet is found healthy on both physical exam and blood testing the liklihood of a life threatening situation developing is extremely low.     On the other hand if you avoid anesthesia and never have your pets teeth professionally cleaned the chances of a life shortening disease developing in the form of early organ failure (i.e.  Kidney disease) are far more likely to occur.   Said another way, the benefits or a regular yearly professional teeth cleaning far out way the risk.     The problem  is that the anesthetic  risk is “ in your face” at the time when you are asked to make the  decision to have your pets teeth cleaned whereas the dangers  of avoiding  this yearly procedure are hidden and  occur in the  form of slow progressive organ degeneration.    So just as driving a car or flying in a plane have their inherent risk we are willing to accept this risk because of the great benefits that are derived.

There is no doubt that daily home dental hygiene is performed by a very low percentage of the pet owning population.    It is not surprising that in lieu of all the demands we have in our lives we are not excited about having one more task to do every morning or night.   This is especially true when the task becomes frustrating or more time consuming than we thought.     That is why I do not ask my clients to brush their pet’s teeth.    I do however ask them perform a daily hygiene procedure that should take only 30 seconds using a dental gel that is easily smeared on the outside of the teeth and gums.

Our clinic carries a dental hygiene product called  Maxigard Oral Cleaning Gel.     This  gel contains  Zinc Ascorbate (Vitamin C).     A couple of drops of this  tasteless gel are placed on the finger which is  then inserted along the upper gum line on both sides and as far back in the pets mouth as you can comfortably reach.     The finger is then withdrawn while spreading the gel along the gum in one quick action.     The gel is only applied to the upper gums because the pets saliva will distributed the gel to the rest of the mouth.    The procedure should take no longer than 30 seconds if you follow the rest of my advice.   I have devised the following plan which will not only help you remember to perform this daily task but will also eliminate the frustration of catching your pet in order to perform the good deed.     Place the Maxigard Gel in a brown bag (it is light sensitive) and leave it by the pets  food supply.    When you go to feed the pet that day you will see the brown bag and remove the bottle and place it by the pets dish of food you have prepare up on the counter (not on the floor).   Your pet will be waiting by your feet anticipating the meal.    Before you serve the food  you will reach down and apply the gel and then immediately place the bowl on the floor.   I a matter of days your pet will look forward to the ordeal because he or she knows that what comes next  is  food.


Woodside Animal Clinic is a unique, very personal, one doctor practice where, for over 35 years, Dr. Simon has been healing dogs, cats, birds, rabbits, ferrets rodents, and reptiles with both conventional andalternative medicine. Dr. Simon is certified in Acupuncture, Chiropractic and Stem cell therapy. He is the author of 4 pet care books, a past president of the Oakland County Veterinary Medical Association and past board member of the  American Holistic Veterinary Association.   Visit us at

Woodside Animal Clinic sees pets from all over Michigan but primarily from the greater Detroit area including Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Livingston and Washtenaw counties. Cities in these counties include Royal Oak, Berkley, Huntington Woods, Ferndale, Pleasant Ridge, Detroit, Redford, Livonia, Hazel Park, Madison Heights, Warren, Centerline, Clawson, Troy, Sterling Heights, Southfield, Birmingham, Lathrup Village, Bingham Farms,  Franklin, Farmington, Farmington Hills, Novi, Northville,Wixom, Brighton, Livonia, Plymouth, Commerce, Ann Arbor, Ortonville, Clarkston, Waterford, Union Lake, Rochester, Rochester Hills, Auburn Hills, Utica, White Lake, Grosse Pointe, Romeo, Swartz Creek,  Shelby township, Washington,  Flint, Hartland, Lansing, Okemos, Howell, Brighton, White Lake, Romeo, Saline, South Lyon, Battle Creek, Saginaw, Windsor Canada, Toledo Ohio