Pet Dental Health: Dogs and Cats Need Dental Care Too!
This February, celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month with us by learning how to take care of your pet’s teeth. Dental care plays an important role in your pet’s overall health, which is why we make dental care a priority.
By 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease (also called gum or dental disease). With periodontal disease may come other potential health problems—and not just in a pet’s mouth. Besides gum recession, infection, and tooth loss, periodontal disease can cause changes in the heart, kidneys, and liver.
What Is Periodontal Disease?
Plaque forms on teeth (pet and human alike) constantly. When it’s not removed regularly (through brushing), it changes into hardened tartar within about 24 hours. Plaque continues to form on top of the tartar.
Tartar can’t be brushed away. It has to be removed during a professional dental cleaning.
If these layers of bacteria-laden tartar aren’t removed through a veterinary cleaning, the pet will end up with inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which will progress to infection and loss of tooth support (advanced periodontal disease).
When pets don’t receive regular dental care, they may need more than just a cleaning. Dental extractions may be required to remove infected teeth and make a pet’s mouth healthy again.
What Are Signs of Dental Problems in Pets?
Contact us if you notice:
- Bad breath
- Brown or yellow teeth
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Broken or loose teeth
- Reluctance or refusal to eat
- Dropping food from the mouth
- Growling at food
- Chewing abnormally
- Excessive drooling
- Pawing at the mouth or face
Bad breath in pets isn’t normal. It’s almost always a sign of oral issues.
How Can You Help Keep Your Pet’s Mouth Healthy?
Bring Your Pet In for a Dental Exam
Bringing your pet in for regular veterinary dental health exams and cleanings (as recommended) is the first step to achieving better dental health for your dog or cat.
For every dental procedure, we use digital x-rays (radiographs) to evaluate what your pet’s teeth look like under the gums. We can only assess about 40% of a dog or cat’s teeth by just looking at them, so we use state-of-the-art digital x-rays to show us what might be lurking unseen, such as painful root disease, tooth resorption, or the extent of a cracked tooth. That way, we can be sure we’re properly treating your pet.
Our team also takes plenty of precautions to make sure that dental procedures stay as safe as possible for our patients:
- We perform preanesthetic bloodwork before a dental cleaning or surgery to ensure that pets are healthy enough to undergo anesthesia and to tailor anesthesia medications to individual pets as needed.
- We also actively monitor pets during and after dental procedures to make sure their vital signs stay within normal ranges, similar to protocols that are used when people undergo anesthesia.
During a dental cleaning, our specially trained registered veterinary technician will remove built-up plaque and tartar, then polish your pet’s teeth to smooth the surface of the teeth, which can help slow the future buildup of tartar.
If your pet needs any additional dental care, such as extractions, we will make sure you understand what needs to be done and why.
Make Home Care a Priority
You play an essential role in your pet’s dental health. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the cornerstone of dental care and one of the most important steps you can take to help keep dental disease at bay. We’d be happy to give you tips to help get you started!
Never use human toothpaste in pets. It contains ingredients that can make your pet sick.
Although daily brushing is ideal, we understand that it may not always be practical. Fortunately, a number of dental products can help control plaque and tartar buildup in your pet:
- Dental diets and chews
- Dental toys
- Oral rinses and sprays
- Drinking water additives
- Dental sealants (which will first need to be applied after a professional dental cleaning and then reapplied at home)
Ask us which products we recommend for your pet. You can also look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance.
By being proactive about dental care, you can help protect your pet’s overall health.
Have You Scheduled Your Pet’s Dental Exam?
We recommend that pets visit us at least once a year for a dental evaluation. We’ll examine your pet’s teeth and gums and let you know what we recommend to maintain or improve your pet’s oral health.
During your pet’s free dental health exam, one of our veterinary technicians will go over home care with you and make individual treatment plans for your pet.
If your pet is showing signs of dental trouble, however, don’t wait for your pet’s annual exam. Call us or make an appointment today!