Let’s be honest, most pet owners rarely take a peek into the mouths of their cat or dog, except for an occasional slobbery kiss or cuddle. They are unaware that bacteria constantly builds up within the crevices of pet’s teeth. Left untreated, poor oral health in pets can lead to many problems, including bad breath, tooth decay or tooth loss, gum disease, heart and kidney disease and much more. All of these problems can mean shortened life spans and an unhappy pet.
Some common signs of dental disease are:
Dogs and cats both need regular at-home and professional dental care to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Owners should consider visiting their vet for a full pet dental exam at least once a year to better understand how dental health affects overall health. Your vet will help create a suitable pet dental care plan which may include a dental cleaning.
During a dental cleaning, plaque and tartar are removed from a pet’s teeth, and the health of the entire mouth (tongue, gums, lips, and teeth) is assessed. A thorough dental cleaning can be accomplished only while the pet is under anesthesia. Anesthesia keeps your pet free of anxiety or pain during the dental procedure and allows your veterinarian to fully inspect the teeth and remove tartar from under the gums. After the teeth are cleaned, dental x-rays are performed to make sure the tooth roots are healthy and there is no hidden infection under your pet’s gumline that can be causing discomfort.
Like a walk outside or brushing their fur, teeth-brushing must be part of your daily routine at home. Ideally, it is best to train your pet when they are still young but if yours is past this point, don’t fret. It is still possible to do with some patience. Although dental chews are good, they should not substitute for a good teeth brushing. Purchase a special pet toothpaste and toothbrush; never use human toothpaste since pets cannot spit or rinse. The key to successful teeth brushing is to start your pet off slowly for your pet to adapt, be gentle and use positive reinforcement.
Dental care for pets is important, as dental disease is very common and can be quite debilitating. Untreated, it can decrease your pet’s quality of life and shorten his or her life expectancy by years. If you need help getting your pet’s dental health on the right track, don’t delay. It’s always a good time to give your pet’s oral health a fresh start!