Little strip can make a big difference in a dog's dental health - Dr. Marty Becker

Little strip can make a big difference in a dog’s dental health

Thursday, Feb 2nd, 2012 | By Dr. Marty Becker

What’s going on in your pet’s mouth? If you can’t say you’ve ever checked, I can tell you the news will likely not be good.

Periodontal disease is the No. 1 most commonly diagnosed pet health problem, with about 85 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats getting it by age 3. Periodontal disease may begin in small-breed dogs and cats as early as 9 months of age.

So how do you know if your pet has periodontal disease? It’s hard because the problem is present below the gum line¬† — it’s like trying to see the underwater part of an iceberg from a boat. Even your veterinarian, if using just a visual exam, hasn’t always been able to detect your pet’s periodontal disease. But it’s there, and it’s steady process of decay is causing suffering in your pet.

At¬† the North American Veterinary Conference in Orlando last month, there was talk about a new “cool tool” to detect and monitor periodontal disease in dogs (a cat version is in the works). The OraStrip QuickCheck is a rapid, simple to use, surefire test strip that provides the veterinarian the opportunity to detect changes in gingival health that can’t be seen by visual detection. The OraStrip QuickCheck works by determining the level of critical chemomarkers called thiols generated by anaerobic bacteria associated with periodontal disease during infection and tissue destruction. The test strip is rubbed along the gum line and within 10 seconds the strip changes color if thiol levels are present, indicating disease activity such as gingivitis or periodontitis.

We’ve been using the OraStrip QuickCheck at Lakewood Animal Hospital for a couple of months now. Both pet owners and the veterinary healthcare team love it. The veterinarian can do the test in the exam room with almost instant results. No more guessing, visible proof if a pet is suffering. From there, steps need to be taken to regain his health.