Are you taking proper care of your dog's or cat's teeth?
If we’re honest with ourselves, most of us have never brushed our pets’ teeth. We merely hope or assume that the Dentabones or Greenies along with hard food are scraping their teeth clean enough to take care of the problems that come with not brushing. Unfortunately, that’s not really the case. According to veterinarian sources, 85 percent of all pets have periodontal disease by the time they are 3 years of age. Dental disease in pets and humans can result in bad breath, painful chewing and eventual tooth loss. But the problems don’t end there. There are far more serious complications that can occur from poor dental health.
1. Periodontal Disease is a Big Problem for Our Pets
Just like us, pets can and do suffer from the same maladies and complications as people when oral health is neglected. Periodontal disease is a serious progressive condition that leads to tooth loss due to gradual degeneration of the supporting tissue when gingivitis is ignored. Signs of it are receding gums and bad breath. That’s because bacteria gets under the gum line and infections can and usually do occur. The other problem is that bacteria, if left untreated, can travel to the heart, kidneys and liver, all of which can significantly shorten your life or compromise your health, at the very least, leading to a lifetime of medications.
2. Poor Oral Hygiene Causes Tooth Loss in Pets
Once you lose your teeth, it makes it very difficult to chew — especially anything thick or crunchy. This leaves you on a soft diet, which in animals eliminates the hard foods that do the tooth scraping for them, essentially creating a catch 22 of sorts. Tooth loss can also lead to far worse problems than a soft diet. It can reach a level of complication that includes sinus cavities leading to reverse sneezing and partial tracheal collapse. Not only will this affect the quality of life your pet experiences, but it can shorten it significantly as well. The problem is animals can’t tell us when they’re in pain, so they can live for years in discomfort until other symptoms arise.
3. Give Adequate Dental Care to Your Pets at Home
Regular inspections of your pet’s mouth and teeth is important in order to catch dental disease in its earliest stages. Tartar appears as a brownish-yellow buildup on the teeth up around the gum line. Redness or bleeding of the gums may indicate gingivitis, which is a precursor to periodontal disease when left untreated. The good news is they now sell toothbrushes for pets. They’re small and slip over the tip of your finger and can be purchased with pet toothpaste designed with dogs and cats in mind (think beef, salmon and chicken flavored). Not all pets are inclined to allow you to brush their teeth, especially cats. Begin gradually and take it slow. Let them taste the paste first and work up to the process.
4. Make Sure to Get Professional Dental Cleanings for Pets
In order to remove bacteria from under the gums, along with stubborn tartar and plaque, a professional dental cleaning is recommended for your pet. Doing so eliminates potential sources of infection not only to the mouth and possibly other organs, but it will ultimately protect your pet from dental pain and eventual tooth loss. Your veterinarian’s office in all likelihood can perform this service on premises. You should be aware that a thorough cleaning and evaluation of overall oral health is usually conducted under general anesthesia. Once everything’s done, your vet can give you tips for preventative care to lessen the number of visits in association to oral hygiene.
With proper oral hygiene at home and routine professional cleanings for your dogs and cats, you will have much happier and healthier pets. So don't forget to take care of your pet's teeth as well as their bodies.