You know the numbers: By the age of 3, about 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have periodontal disease, according to Jennifer Akers, a clinical assistant professor at the Kansas State University Veterinary Medicine Teaching Hospital. Are you doing all you can to be sure your clients are aware of the dangers of their pets’ bad oral health? Here are some tips to keep in mind when you’re educating clients:
> Prevention may mean more work for the pet owner, but it has the best end result for pets and often the client’s pocketbook, says Marjory Artzer, a clinical assistant professor at the teaching hospital. So show your clients how to brush their dog or cat’s teeth daily using a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste.
> Explain to clients that by implementing preventive measures, they can improve their pet’s quality of life and prevent severe complicating factors of periodontal disease: heart conditions, kidney problems, or other dental diseases that can cost more to treat in the long run.
> Encourage clients at their first new puppy or kitten visits to start a home oral care regimen. It’s easier to train the pet to become accustomed to brushing at a young age.
> Make sure clients are aware of the signs of dental problems and encourage them to call you if they notice them. These signs include bad breath, bleeding from the gingiva, changes in eating behavior, or pawing and rubbing faces.
With some instruction, encouragement, and follow-up care, your patients can have a healthy mouth. Your clients—and patients—will thank you for it in the long run.