For Lifelong Health, Keep Pet Dental Care a Priority
You probably wouldn’t allow yourself to skip a day or two of brushing your teeth or avoiding all of your dental appointments. However, our pets often suffer from periodontal and other oral health problems due to lack of at-home care and professional cleanings.
While the task of brushing your pet’s teeth may be at the very bottom of your “fun list,” there are good reasons why pet dental care should get more attention. You may be surprised to learn just how connected oral hygiene is to a pet’s overall health.
Did you know that dental problems are among the most common reasons people bring their pets in to see us? Unfortunately, over two-thirds of adult cats and dogs over the age of 3 have some form of dental disease.
Along with tooth loss, broken teeth, and inflammation, one of the worst outcomes of neglected oral health is systemic illness.
When periodontal disease isn’t treated, infections can develop under the gum line, spreading to major organs of the body. Dental disease has been associated with conditions such as heart disease, cancer, and kidney disease.
Symptoms of dental disease include: halitosis (bad breath), inflammation and bleeding along the gumline, discoloration of teeth, swelling, loose or broken teeth, and difficulty chewing. Some pets also paw at the mouth or rub their faces as if in pain.
Pet Dental Care to the Rescue
Since some dental problems cannot be “cured,” only managed, let’s focus on prevention.
Beginning with at-home care, the following tips should be part of your pet’s regimen:
- Brush your pet’s teeth daily or at least twice a week using a toothbrush and toothpaste designed specifically for your pet (never use human toothpaste).
- Inspect your pet’s teeth and gums and look for redness, odor, bleeding, or other changes.
- Feed your pet a high quality diet (we can recommend the best food for your pet) and limit treats.
- Certain dental products (like Nylabone-type chew toys) can be beneficial, but bones and rawhide can also present choking risks. Ask us for recommendations.
One of the most important factors in your pet’s dental health is maintaining regular wellness check-ups. During your pet’s visit, we will examine their teeth and gums, making note of any changes that need to be addressed.
Since problems affecting the teeth, gums, and mouth aren’t easy to detect for most pet owners, these exams are the best way to ensure your pet isn’t experiencing any pain or discomfort.
When changes are noted (such as tartar and plaque build-up), we will likely recommend professional cleaning. Not only is cleaning a safe, effective way to keep your pet’s teeth and total health in good order, it also allows us to take an x-ray of your pet’s mouth. This gives us a much more accurate view of any issues below the gum line.
To learn more about how you can encourage a long, healthy life with excellent pet dental care, please give the Rutland Veterinary Team a call. We are always happy to answer questions and schedule an appointment if needed.