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Don’t Dismiss Your Pet’s Foul Breath BY LEISA JENNINGS

When was the last time you brushed your teeth? Now, when was the last time that you brushed your pet’s teeth? Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if not brushed daily. The same applies to your pet’s teeth. The most common dental issue for humans is tooth decay due to calcium loss of the enamel. However, our pets rarely experience tooth decay. They suffer Dr. Leisa Jennings is from periodontal or gum disease. a Georgia native and a graduate of the According to the American Veterinary University of Georgia. Medical Association (AVMA), more than She has a special interest in birds/avian 85 percent of dogs and cats that are at medicine. least four years old have periodontal disease. The ramifications of periodontal disease reach beyond your pet’s mouth to multiple systemic conditions. The bacteria that are wreaking havoc in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and travel to other organs such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, liver and brain. Damage to these organs is detrimental and can be life threatening. Periodontal Disease Defined Periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that begins as gingivitis and can eventually result in tooth loss. A mixture of bacteria and food debris (known as plaque) builds up on the

tooth and advances under the gum line. The gums become red and inflamed (gingivitis) in response to the invading bacteria and the toxins that the bacteria release. As the inflammation becomes more severe, it causes destruction of both soft tissue and bone that can result in tooth loss. Diet, age, breed, genetics, environment, additional medical issues and medications are just a few of the many contributing factors. Signs and Symptoms The first sign is often bad breath, commonly dismissed as just doggie or kitty breath. Many things can cause bad breath, but dental disease is usually the primary suspect. Other signs include: discoloration of the teeth often starting at the gum line, tarter coating forming on the teeth, and red swollen gums. The following signs may be noticed in advanced stage periodontal disease: intolerance of being touched around the mouth, bleeding from mouth, drooling, difficulty eating, decreased appetite, and acute abscess formation around the mouth. Most pets are stoic and skilled at hiding signs of pain and illness. Therefore periodontal disease is easily overlooked until overt symptoms of late stage disease occur. Treatment and Prevention We can apply many of the procedures we use to maintain our oral health to our pets. Routine veterinary exams and cleaning, along with daily maintenance, are paramount in maintaining continued on page 60

MEDICAL ASSOCIATES of NORTH GEORGIA

Expert Surgical Care for Cherokee County

Kevin Powell, MD, FACS Laparoscopic/Robotic/General Surgeon

Dr. Kevin Powell is a board-certified expert in General Surgery who brings nearly a decade of experience to the Medical Associates of North Georgia. Dr. Powell provides the empathetic care you deserve in a convenient location, and uses state-of-the-art laparoscopic and robotic procedures to treat abdominal, soft tissue, and thyroid disorders that range from the simplest to the most complex.

Treatments offered for: •

Gallbladder and Biliary Disease

Breast Disease

Hernias

Small and Large Bowel Processes

Skin and Soft Tissue

Thyroid and Parathyroid Disease

320 Hospital Rd | Canton, Georgia 30114 770-479-5535 | fax 770-479-8821 | medassoc.com SIXES LIVING | February 2015

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