Pet dental health may be one of the most neglected aspects of caring for a pet. If a person never brushed their teeth or visited a dentist we would be appalled, but many pets go their entire life without any dental care at all.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Association about 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease by the age of three. Providing good pet dental care is vital to keeping your pets happier and healthier.
The Importance of Pet Dental Care
Bacteria combine with saliva and food on the teeth and gums, causing plaque to form. This plaque eventually hardens to tartar. The accumulation of plaque and tartar can lead to inflammation and destruction of the tissues that support the teeth, which results in periodontal disease.
Untreated, periodontal disease causes pain and infection, and the eventual loss of teeth. The inflammation and infection can cause damage to other organs—like the liver, heart, and kidneys.
As a responsible pet owner, it is important that you take steps to try to prevent this process from causing long term changes to your pet’s health.
Home Dental Care for Pets
Providing dental care at home can be very effective. Not only can home dental care for pets prevent and slow progression of dental disease, but it also allows you to become more familiar with any changes or concerns that you might otherwise not notice.
The most effective thing that you can do at home is toothbrushing. This should be done on a daily (minimally every other day) basis. Work towards including this in your routine by:
- Introducing your pet to tooth brushing slowly, using lots of praise
- Starting by introducing just your finger into the mouth for short sessions (consider dipping it in something tasty)
- Slowly introducing a soft, wet toothbrush or fingerbrush
- Moving to an enzymatic veterinary toothpaste once brushing is tolerated (never use human toothpaste)
- Not forcing the issue if your pet is not receptive
While brushing is best, there are multiple dental products like treats, foods, sprays, and water additives that have been shown to help prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar. These are particularly helpful for pets that do not tolerate brushing.
Routine Oral Examinations at the Vet
As part of your pet’s wellness examination at Bayside Animal Hospital, we will perform an oral examination. This should occur once a year. While performing this oral examination, we can also identify early signs of problems and will help to determine if an examination under anesthesia is indicated.
Pets should have a comprehensive dental examination under anesthesia and thorough teeth cleaning periodically throughout their life. This procedure should be performed under general anesthesia so that the oral cavity can be thoroughly examined and the teeth safely cleaned on all sides and under the gumline.
Any necessary tooth extractions or other recommended procedures may also be performed. Pets vary as to when this type of dental cleaning is required.
Pet dental care is an extremely important part of caring for your pet. Untreated, dental disease is painful and can significantly shorten your pet’s lifespan. Routine oral examinations and dental care can significantly improve your pet’s quality and quantity of life. Contact us today so that we can help get your pet’s dental care plan on track.