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Oral health education opportunity for DVMs

Sep 01, 2001
By dvm360.com staff

Bridgewater, N.J.-Second to cost, a lack of knowledge is a chief reason for poor canine oral health, a Pharmacia Animal Health survey shows.

The survey of 200 pet owners showed they treat their dog as a family member or consider it to be a family member and have taken the animal to the veterinarian in the last year for routine care.

In spite of this devotion, the survey found an overall lack of knowledge on what constitutes good oral health care, even though 70 percent believe oral health care is important to a pet's well being.

Julia Stephanus, global marketing director, companion animal business for Pharmacia, says, "In our study, we found that more than 80 percent of pet owners believed their dog was getting an oral health exam because the mouth had been checked during an annual exam. Unfortunately, only 15 percent actually took their dog to the veterinarian for oral-related problems, only 12 percent had oral X-rays taken and 27 percent had professional cleaning performed. This tells us that there is a lot of educating to be done on what makes up a good oral health care program for a pet."

Some of the survey's findings:

* 86 percent of owners were very concerned about serious dental problems such as loss of teeth, gum disease, tooth decay, but only 13 percent realized infection and abscesses can be an oral health problem. Only 11 percent considered bad breath a sign of poor oral health.

* 40 percent did not recall their veterinarian discussing with them the importance of good oral health care.

* 56 percent said they did not recall their veterinarian recommending an oral exam.

* Only one-third recalled that their veterinarian had recommended professional teeth cleaning.

* 90 percent did not recall their veterinarian recommending dental X-rays be taken.

* 25 percent said they want more information on oral health care.

"Making oral health care a more integral part of veterinary practice is a tremendous opportunity," Stephanus says. "Pet owners trust their veterinarians and 78 percent expect them to make oral health recommendations."