FORT KNOX, Ky. -- Pets are a part of the Army Family too, and, just like you, they need annual check-ups with their doctor.
The Fort Knox Veterinary Treatment Facility is conveniently located across the street from Cadet Command on 192 Tank Battalion Road, Bldg. 1006. We are here to help you keep your pets healthy and happy. Our veterinarians and technicians offer a wide range of services. Appointments are available if your pet is doing well and just needs vaccines or if they are feeling a little under the weather. Slots for surgeries and dental cleanings are available each week.
Having a permanent change of station with your pets in tow? Let the VTF know as soon as possible and we can help you follow the proper steps to ensure smooth travels. Some countries require six month timelines to legally take your pets with you and requirements can sometimes change. Our staff knows where to find the up-to-date information you need.
Do you have any questions or concerns about your pets and caring for them? Email your questions to KnoxPetQuestions@gmail.com and they could be answered in this column.
This week’s topic is your pet and their teeth—WHOO! That breath is smelly!
You used to love getting kisses from your pet, but now their breath is just so awful that it ruins the cuteness. Perhaps you’ve also noticed some gunk on their teeth too. How can you make this better?
Bar-none the best thing for preventing dental disease is daily tooth brushing—just like you and me. Brush-ing your pet’s teeth may seem out of reach, but the trick is training them so that it becomes something they like to do and even look forward to. Each step of training can take as long as it needs, but generally a week for each small step is good starting point. At the same time each day let your pet lick a little yummy, pet toothpaste off a finger brush. Then they can lick the toothpaste off the finger brush while it touches a tooth, usually the canine teeth are easy to reach. The next step is to slowly move the finger brush against the tooth. After a week or so, you start to clean more than one tooth, then eventually three teeth, and so on, and so on. If your pet isn’t having fun then it’s time to stop and try again tomorrow.
The slightly distant second best is the various products that can be purchased to help abrade the teeth and keep plaque at bay. Dental chews, raw hides and dental diets with larger than normal kibbles are good choices. These products scrape away the plaque on the teeth on a daily basis to help prevent dental disease. They are not quite as effective as brushing the teeth because they act more sporadically and don’t clean all the teeth.
The sad truth is that in the end, no matter what we do for our teeth, we all have to go to the dentist. Your pet’s dentist is you friendly, local veterinarian. The importance of a full dental cleaning, for you and your pet, is getting rid of the plaque below the gum line. People can sit still knowing the mild discomfort at our teeth cleaning is all for the greater good. Not even your most calm pet will sit still while you crank open their mouth and put an ultrasonic scaler spraying water into their mouth and clean under their gums. This is where general anesthesia comes in so that your pet is comfort-ably unaware of what is going as their teeth are scaled and then polished to sooth away any micro-scratches caused by the scaler.
Now it only stands to reason that the longer you stay away from the dentist the more work they have to do while you’re there. For pets this often means tooth extractions (another good reason for the general anesthesia). Your vet will likely tell you that the teeth have to go because they are loose and/or have deep pockets extending below the gum line. This happens because the pesky plaque under the gum line lets bacteria grow and they release toxins that anger the immune system which try to fight off the bacteria. This epic battle under the gum line hurts the innocent bystanders of the mouth in the form of gingivitis and the bone around the root being worn away. This does hurt, and the amazing thing is that pets will still eat their food while suffering under severe dental disease. The flip side is this hurts your pocket book to fix because extractions are expensive. Dogs have much longer roots and taking out their teeth is more complicated; complicated which means they will need to use special dental tools and more time under anesthesia which will cost more money.
In the long run, your pet and your wallet will suffer less if you have your pet’s teeth cleaned the first time your vet recommends it instead of five years down the road. On the plus side, if you take up brushing your dog’s teeth and/or using products designed to help keep the teeth clean, you can increase your time between teeth cleanings. It’s also worth mentioning that products or groomers that claim to offer to clean your pets teeth as well as your veterinarian can without anesthesia are not cleaning under the gum line and therefore are not fixing the root of the problem. The teeth may appear clean, but the battle under the gum line rages on hurting your pet’s overall dental health.
Capt. Cassandra Framstad, Fort Knox Veterinary Treatment Facility