The Aly Report: February 2021

CARE STL Shelter Newsletter

A Dentastix a day keeps the doggy dentist away!


Or does it? February is National Pet Dental Health Month and according to the American Veterinary Dental Association, about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats get an oral disease by the age of three. While this statistic can seem alarming, prevention is key in protecting your pet’s dental health and there are many ways to go about this! Their oral health, like ours, can have a huge effect on their overall health. According to Kerrie Davis, Clinic Manager and Veterinary Technician here at CARE STL, “dental disease can cause other more serious health issues when it goes untreated. Broken teeth cause pain and can lead to issues with eating and even behavioral issues. Animals can act out or retreat when they are in pain. Small dogs tend to have more frequent and severe dental issues.” Recognizing the signs of bad oral health can help you  treat and prevent more health issues. Signs include bad breath, lethargy, red gums, extra salivation and loss of appetite. You’re one step closer to keeping your dog happy and healthy!

So what’s the next step? You might be wondering. Knowing how you can care for their teeth! Since being domesticated, most cats and dogs no longer hunt and eat prey that would “floss” their teeth and gums as they ate. Luckily, most pet foods today are aimed at helping with oral health. Some studies show that soft diets can increase the frequency of periodontal disease (the most common oral disease in pets), and that harder foods require more chewing which is better for cats and dogs. Choosing the right food for your pet is a good step in prevention. Did you know you could be brushing your pet’s teeth? Davis mentions that as “only effective if an owner does it every day” but for dedicated pet owner’s there are options  for those who want to go the route. Many animals will not tolerate that daily so what else can you do? You’re probably looking at that bag of dental treats on your shelf and luckily dental treats are an effective way to slow but not fully prevent oral disease. Many toys, too, are helpful with debris on teeth but should be monitored during play, Davis mentions. A product Davis recommends that she’s worked with before is called Pro-Biora, a probiotic you sprinkle on top of their food to improve hygiene and freshen breath! Many vets mention annual check-ups and cleanings (just like the ones we should be going to) as a great way to help with their oral care and save on future vet costs if oral issues arose. Small dogs might require more frequent check-ups.

At the beginning of January this year, CARE STL received a quiet, fluffy black cat named Trowa, who we soon realized was lethargic and salivating a large amount. Instantly recognized as an oral issue, Trowa was examined and found to have stomatitis. This is a chronic condition with a mostly unknown cause-but many theorize it has to do with the cats immune system not functioning properly, according to Davis. While there is no cure for this specific issue, regular dental can help prevent the disease from progressing if diagnosed early on. Trowa is still being treated but is currently comfy in a foster’s home. 


It is important to take care of not only your oral health, but also your pet’s! If you love getting kisses and seeing their zoomies, make sure to give their teeth and gums a little extra TLC!

Submitted by Kennedy Hemme, CARE STL Caregiver

Center for Animal Rescue & Enrichment of St. Louis | 2700 Walnut Place, St. Louis, MO 63103

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