Life is better with pets!

By Sherry Warner

This is the first installment in what I hope will be a weekly blog. In it I will share some of my experiences with my little Maltese, Sammy, as well as information about how to best care for your pets, animal welfare issues and what’s happening with Kali’s Wish Cancer Foundation, the non-profit Citizen Pet & Equine supports.

February is Pet Dental Health Month so it’s fitting that Sammy is scheduled for dental surgery tomorrow. I’m a little worried because I know that he’ll probably have to have a few teeth pulled. I’m also upset with myself for not taking more preventive measures to keep his teeth clean and healthy.

I’m paying the price now, quite literally, as the vet bill for Sammy’s teeth will probably cost about $2,000. I don’t have pet insurance, but that wouldn’t help anyway because as I understand it, dental cleanings and extractions etc. are not covered under pet insurance policies except in an accident. Luckily I was able to find a way to finance his surgery.

Poor dental health, I think, is something that sneaks up on a lot of pet guardians. One day I looked in Sammy’s mouth and saw beautiful white teeth and the next time I looked they were covered with ugly yellow tartar.

I was very surprised at how fast Sammy’s teeth went from healthy to diseased. He is not even five years old! And Sammy is not alone. A recent study said that about 80 per cent of dogs and 70 per cent of cats in North America show signs of dental disease by age three. Yikes!

I’ve tried a number of dental products and strategies over the years like brushing, special chewing products and dental enzymes but nothing worked. Sammy will not let me near his mouth to brush his teeth. I’ve tried both a toothbrush and my finger but I got more toothpaste on his face and all over me than I managed to get on his teeth.

He tried a dental chew but promptly threw it up minutes after finishing it. And the enzymes I tried, I had to work them into his food and he still managed to pick them out, which I thought was quite amazing.

The only product I’ve tried that worked to clean the tartar off his teeth was Leba III by Lebalab Inc., which is made in Canada. It’s a dental spray that safely removes tartar. The company has the results of double-blind trials it conducted on its website: www.lebalab.com

It is expensive, at about $95 for a small 1 oz. bottle but I like it because Sammy will tolerate me opening his mouth to spray it in and it seems to work.

There is a relatively new product to Canada, called Petzlife, that offers a natural dental spray. The company has a good track record and many testimonials from satisfied customers (along with before and after shots) on its website. Once Sammy’s teeth are fixed, I’ll be trying Petzlife to continue his dental care at home.

The only advice I can give to pet guardians who have pets with dental issues, is to get them resolved as soon as possible. Poor dental health can have a huge affect on your pet’s overall health and well-being.

Vets still advise that brushing your pet’s teeth on a regular basis is the most effective way to keep them strong and healthy. But, if like me, your pet will not allow you to get near his mouth to brush his teeth, I recommend doing your own research to find products and methods that will work for both you and your pet.