Hello Dallas Voice readers, and welcome to my first column! I want to introduce myself first and share something about me: I am Dr. Josh, and I am a veterinarian in Addison. I am originally from Puerto Rico, but I have lived in Texas since 2017.

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I would become a veterinarian. I come from a low-income family, and I worked very hard my whole life to achieve my lifelong goal, because I am passionate about animals and their well-being.

I also want to influence people like me, who come from challenging environments but have the determination and passion they need to achieve their goals in helping society.

Now that you know a bit about me, I am very excited and honored to write about medicine and animals through such an important magazine like Dallas Voice.

The topic I have chosen for this first column is dental disease in dogs and cats. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and many people do not know that dental disease is one of the two most common diseases found in our fur babies. (The other most common disease is obesity, but we will pretend for now that obesity is just more to love — until one of my future columns.)

Dental disease includes multiple symptoms, but the most common ones that you may notice are inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), bad breath (halitosis) and tartar. Keep in mind that bad breath can be caused by certain diseases and also by eating and licking things that we shall not name here, as I am trying to keep it professional (hahaha).

That being said, the most common cause of bad breath is dental disease.

How do we prevent or delay dental disease? The gold standard is, like with us humans, brushing their teeth. The reality is that most people do not brush their fur babies’ teeth, but it is actually not that difficult. You will need toothpaste and a toothbrush for dogs/cats. These toothpastes have enzymes that help break down the plaque, so even if you cannot brush their teeth well, the toothpaste itself will still help.

I think the most common complication people find is when trying to open their baby’s mouth to brush the inside of their teeth. But you do not have to do that at all. Just brush the outside of the teeth every single day, which should take not more than a minute or so. Dental treats help as well, and you can use them, along with teeth brushing. But go to VOHC’s website (vohc.org) and see their accepted products. VOHC is the dog and cat counterpart of ADA in human dental products.

Whenever tartar has accumulated on their teeth, the only thing that can help — again, as with us humans — is a dental cleaning. But unlike with humans, dental cleanings for dogs and cats have to be done under anesthesia, as dogs and cats will not stay still for the procedure.

Dental cleanings are usually performed yearly. But each fur baby is different, and some may need them more or less frequently. Needless to say, the vet performs an oral exam first, and I make sure I have a detailed conversation with my clients, setting expectations and talking about ideal versus conservative options.

Our more mature babies can be fragile, and we definitely should be cautious about these procedures. So it is important for you to know that we do not practice cookie cutter medicine. All of this having been said, it starts with just a simple dental exam, and we veterinarians can perform those for you.

If you have a preferred veterinary hospital, ask them for a dental exam. And if they end up recommending a dental cleaning, ask them if they have any discount for the month of February. If you do not have a veterinarian or want to visit me in Addison, I will perform a thorough exam of your baby and share those details with you. We also take our time with our clients to make sure all questions are addressed during this dental quest. During the month of February, we are offering a $100 discount from the dental cleaning fee.

I hope this space has allowed you to learn something interesting, and I am looking forward to sharing some animal related facts with you every first Friday of the month! Abrazos!

Dr. Josh owns Isla Veterinary Boutique Hospital at 14380 Marsh Ln. Ste. 110 in Addison (next to Tom Thumb). 972-738-1111. IslaVet.com