Imagine what your mouth would feel like if you never brushed your teeth or went to the dentist. For many dogs and cats, this is a painful reality. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, more than 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by the age of 3. Dental (or periodontal) disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets.
Common signs of dental disease include:
- Yellow or brown buildup (tartar) on the teeth
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling
- Changes in eating or chewing habits
- Pawing at the face
- Loose teeth
Even if your dog or cat doesn’t have these symptoms, we recommend that you have a veterinarian evaluate your pet’s dental health at least once a year. Bacteria and food debris accumulate around the teeth and, if left unchecked, will lead to deterioration of the soft tissue and bone surrounding the teeth. This decay can result in irreversible periodontal disease, tooth loss, and possibly expensive oral surgery.
Dental disease can also affect other organs in the body: Bacteria in the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause serious infections in the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. If these problems aren’t caught and treated quickly enough, they can result in death. A physical exam combined with appropriate laboratory work can determine if infection in the mouth has spread.
Schedule your pet’s dental exam today! We can also show you how to brush your pet’s teeth and recommend foods and treats that will help combat plaque and tartar buildup.
Pet Dental Care
Dental health is very important to your pet’s overall health, and dental problems can cause, or be caused by, other health problems. According to the AVMA, over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over 3 years of age are affected by periodontal disease. February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Let’s learn what we can do to help our pet avoid periodontal disease.
4 Steps to Dental Health
1. Beware of Bad Breath – Don’t ignore that bad odor coming from your pet’s mouth. It might signify a serious health risk, with the potential to damage not only your pet’s teeth, but its internal organs as well. Other dental health warning include bleeding from the mouth, red swollen gums, pawing at the mouth and reluctance to eat hard kibble.
2. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth – Brushing your pet’s teeth is the gold standard. Begin a home dental hygiene program. It might take a few weeks to get your pet to warm up to the idea of daily tooth brushing. Never use a human toothpaste as the foaming agents in the fluoride can cause an upset stomach in your pet.
3. Consider Dental Toys, Treats and Food – While it’s not as effective as brushing their teeth, offering your pet treats, toys and food specifically designed to promote oral health will help maintain health gums and teeth. Your veterinarian can recommend a suitable dental diet for your pet. The texture of dental diets generates a mechanical cleansing effect on the surface of the tooth as the pet is eating.
4. Ask your Veterinarian for a Dental Exam – Just as we need regular checkups from our dentist, your pet also needs regular dental exams. Your veterinarian will check out your pet’s oral cavity for plaque, tarter and gingivitis and recommend any treatment.
Steps to Cleaning Your Pet’s Teeth
1 – Find the right time. Make sure your pet is calm and relaxed. Patience and training are important.
2 – Use the proper tools. You will want to use a toothbrush and toothpaste made for pets. A finger toothbrush works well.
3 – Assume the position. Make sure that your pet is comfortable. Sit on the floor with them.
4 – Let them taste the toothpaste and the toothbrush. Lift their upper lip and place the bristles of the brush at a 45-degree angle against their teeth. Use a circular motion. Brush in small circles, getting the top and bottom on each side of the outside surface of the teeth.
5 – As with any training session, end on a positive note. Reward your pet with lots of praise and their favorite treat.
Order all of your pet care needs including our selection of veterinarian approved dental products from our online store.