Dental care is a very common practice among the human members of our families, but many don’t realize their pets are subject to the same issues!
Periodontal disease is the most common disease among companion animals like cats and dogs - in fact, 85% of pets have periodontal disease by the age of three. Dental disease results in bad breath, gingivitis, infection, and discomfort.
Bad breath is an easy symptom to notice, but many owners may not notice any other changes in their pet’s behaviour that would indicate a dental issue. Our furry friends will often continue eating and behaving normally, even if their teeth are sore, loose, or infected.
Plaque and tartar build up can also lead to more serious issues. Bacteria under the gum line can travel to organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys, spreading infection to vital parts of the body.
So what can owners do to keep up on their pet’s dental health?
The first step is to start looking in your pet’s mouth on a regular basis. It’s good for owners to get used to handling their pet’s muzzle, opening their mouths or lifting up their lips to examine their teeth.
Things to look for include plaque build up, cracked or broken teeth, and swelling or redness around the gumline.
Regular at-home brushing helps reduce gingivitis, and plaque and tartar build-up, just like it does for us! It takes time for pets to get used to having their teeth brushed.
Owners can start by rewarding their pets just for having their mouths touched and examined. Then, let your pet get used to the smell of their own toothbrush and pet-friendly toothpaste without trying to brush.
On another day, try brushing one or two teeth to start out with, and slowly move up to brushing all of their teeth in one sitting, offering lots of treats and praise for each session!
Once your pet is accustomed to having their teeth brushed, set up a regular schedule in the household and stick to it!
Check out this informational video by Fairfield Animal Hospital, all about brushing pet’s teeth:
In order to remove plaque and tartar under the gum line, a dental cleaning must be performed by a veterinarian while under anesthesia.
When we go to the dentist, we can hold still and keep our mouths open for long periods of time while the dentist scales our teeth, and pokes and prods our gums - can you imagine asking your dog or cat to do the same?
This is why a thorough cleaning can only be done while under general anesthesia.
This way, the veterinarian can examine each tooth carefully, perform dental x-rays, and determine if there are any issues under the gumline that require special attention.
February is Dental Month at most veterinary clinics, so be sure to inquire about any specials they have for dental cleanings!
Pets First with Westbank Animal Care Hosptial offers monthly tips and information for pet owners in the Okanagan so that we can all stay safe and have fun with our furry friends in this beautiful valley! Westbank Animal Care Hosptial offers high-quality, compassionate care for your feline and canine companions.