iStock_000010547292_MediumOne of the most important factors determining your pet’s quality and quantity of life is dental health. Unfortunately, dental care is one of the most overlooked areas of pet care. According to the American Veterinary Dental Association, up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease by the age of three.

Just like us, when saliva and food combine with bacteria on your pet’s teeth, a substance called plaque forms. Eventually this becomes mineralized, forming tartar. Tartar accumulation can lead to inflammation in the gingival tissues and eventually destroy the tissues that support the tooth, leading to periodontal disease.

If left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to oral pain and the loss of teeth. Even more importantly, however, the presence of bacteria in continued dental disease can lead to the invasion of infection into the bloodstream. Bacteria in the bloodstream can cause damage to major organs including the kidneys, liver, and heart.

Caring for Your Pet’s Teeth at Home

Unlike many veterinary diseases, you have some control over your pet’s dental health. Take your pet’s oral care into your own hands.

Learn about your pet’s mouth – Dental disease can sneak up on your pet, if you are not paying attention. Look at your pet’s mouth and teeth frequently. Don’t forget to look at the teeth towards the back of the mouth where problems often lurk. If your pet will not allow you to safely examine his or her mouth, you may need to leave this part to us.

Take toothbrushing seriously – When done daily, brushing your pet’s teeth can be a very effective means of slowing the buildup of plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth. We are happy to show you how to properly brush your pet’s teeth, but should warn you to never use human toothpastes on your pets.

Utilize dental products to help – Some pets may not allow their teeth to be brushed. Other products that have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council can also help. A prescription diet such as Hill’s Prescription t/d may work well for some pets, while C.E.T. Dental Chews or an oral rinse may be a better product for another.

Keep your pet’s wellness care appointments – Pets should be seen by a veterinarian at least annually. It is important to keep these recommended appointments so that dental (and other) problems can be caught early on in their course.

The Veterinarian’s Role in Pet Dental Health

No pet owner can tackle their pet’s dental health without help. People brush their teeth multiple times a day and visit the dentist several times a year and can still develop problems. It is only natural that pets, many of whom receive less aggressive preventative care, need oral care through the veterinarian.

It is extremely important for pet owners to follow recommendations for oral examinations and cleaning under anesthesia. No one can thoroughly examine the oral cavity in an awake animal. In order to get an accurate assessment of the entire mouth, including all sides of the teeth and under the gum line, an animal must be under anesthesia.

Depending on the pet, this type of examination may be recommended at different intervals. Home care can certainly help delay the need for an exam and cleaning under anesthesia, but many pets will still need care. During this type of procedure we often address damaged and diseased teeth as well as any other oral problems as well.

Your pet’s oral health may be one of the most important factors in his or her wellness care. That is why we are currently offering $30 off of our dental cleanings and a complimentary home dental care kit for our patients. We want to help you take care of your pet’s health.

Please let us know if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, we are always happy to help.