Updated: Aug 17
Dental care is one of the most overlooked aspects of your pet's health. Most pet owners do not realize the importance of good oral hygiene until it is too late. More than 80% of dogs and 50% of cats over 3 years of age have some form of dental disease. Poor oral hygiene can lead to large amounts of plaque and tarter build-up, which can lead to more than just oral diseases due to the build-up of bacteria in the pet's mouth. If dental disease is left unchecked, it can lead to other chronic health issues such as kidney disease, liver disease, and heart disease. While those are extreme cases, halitosis (bad breath) is probably one issue that can affect the rest of your family if your pet spends a lot of time indoors with you.
Common Dental Conditions include:
Gingivitis: The early stages of periodontal disease which causes redness, swelling, and bleeding in the gums.
Periodontal Disease: Periodontitis is the infection and inflammation of the gums and bones that surround and support the teeth. In severe cases, the affected teeth may need to be extracted. Loss of teeth due to periodontal disease is especially common in small dogs.
Tooth root abscess: This is an extremely painful condition that occurs when bacteria enter the innermost part of the tooth either through a fracture or deep cavity.
Signs that your pet needs their teeth cleaned:
Not closing their mouth.
Strange eating patterns or refusing to eat.
Making sounds of pain when they eat.
Growling or hissing if you try to touch their mouth.
Stronger breath than usual.
Refusing to play.
Pawing at their mouth.
Ways to keep your pet's teeth clean at home.
Alongside annual visits to the veterinarian for teeth cleanings, there are several ways that you can continue to maintain your pet's oral health at home. These methods include:
Pet Tooth Wipes: Made to be rubbed against your pet's teeth, they work similarly to toothbrushes, but are unable to reach the finer nooks in and around the mouth. However, they are still an excellent way to manage your pet's teeth at home and can be easier to manage than a toothbrush and toothpaste.
Pet Dental Treats: Dental treats are designed to remove plaque and freshen breath simultaneously, making them an easy solution to pet halitosis.
Teeth Chew: There are many treats out there that benefit your pet's oral health while chewing as the gnawing scrapes off plaque from their teeth as they chew.
Brushing your dogs' teeth: You don't have to do this daily. It may seem weird for our pets at first, but you can train them to get comfortable with the process. You will need to buy special toothpaste made for pets since toothpaste for humans has ingredients that can be harmful.
Feed your pet dry food dental diet: Crunchy kibble can work well, as it will scrape off plaque as your pet chews through the pieces. Look for food that has the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval.
Your pet's oral health is extremely important to its overall health and wellness. Annual exams with your veterinarian are recommended to determine if your pet needs dental cleaning to remove plaque and tartar buildup that can't be eliminated through brushing alone. If you would like more information on how to maintain your pet's teeth at home or would like to schedule a dental cleaning, call us at 559-434-5470 for more information. While the effects of bad oral health may seem scary, they are preventable, and it is up to you and your family to ensure that your furry friend keeps their mouth clean and healthy.
American Kennel Club. Keep your dog's teeth clean with five tips
American Kennel Club. Top five dental conditions for dogs and cats
American Veterinary Medical Association. Pet Dental Care
Merck Vet Manual. Oral Tumors in small animals