Veterinarians nationally dedicate the month of February to raising awareness of the importance of dental care for pets. Dental problems in pets are much more serious than many pet parents realize. Unfortunately, many pets suffer from a lack of dental care, and it is not just a problem with older pets. Here are some facts:
- Over 80% of dogs age three and above have some form of dental disease.
- 85% of cats age three and older have some form of dental disease.
As you can see, without proper dental care pets start getting dental disease at a young age. For this reason, we here at Advanced Pet Care Clinic strive to educate pet parents on the importance of dental care for their pets.
Dental and Gum Disease in Pets
Just as we can have dental or gum disease, so can our pets. When saliva, food and fluids combine in a pet’s mouth, they help create ideal conditions for bacteria to grow. This bacteria forms plaque, which causes tooth decay and gum disease. Plaque builds up on their teeth. The plaque then hardens and becomes tartar. The tartar builds up on the teeth and can spread below the gum line. The more tartar that builds up the more bacteria grows and spreads which causes inflammation of the gums. (You can see this in the picture above). If this condition is not treated, it can result in:
- Pain. Unfortunately, pets are good at hiding pain. Because of this, you may not be aware of their suffering from dental disease.
- Dental disease can affect your pet’s ability to eat and can therefore cause weight loss.
- Advanced dental disease can lead to eroded gums, missing teeth, and bone loss.
- Most importantly, bacteria from infected teeth can enter the bloodstream and spread to the internal organs such as the heart, kidney, and liver.
Fractured Teeth in Pets
Another condition that needs to be watched for in pets is fractured teeth. Pets teeth can fracture through an injury such as being hit by a car or a hard object. Or, they can fracture their teeth by chewing on hard objects such as a bone or hard toys. A fractured tooth can cause sensitivity to heat and cold. If a crack is deep, it can fill with bacteria and make its way into the root canal. The bacteria in the root canal can then make their way into the bloodstream and infect the vital organs of your pet’s body. Fractures cannot heal but we can seal or cover the tooth to prevent it from getting worse and spreading bacteria. So, the sooner the fracture is addressed, the better for your pet’s health.
TIPS TO PREVENT TOOTH PROBLEMS IN YOUR PETS
1. Keep hard objects away from your pet.
Don’t let your pet chew on hard objects that could crack their teeth. This includes hard toys or cooked bones. Cooked bones are too hard and can also splinter and cause damage to your pet’s mouth, stomach, and intestines. Raw bones that have been processed with high pressure cooking to kill bacteria are ok for both dogs and cats. You can find these in many pet stores in the freezer sections. Pets on Broadway is an on-line pet store that has great information about the types of raw bones that are safe for dogs and cats.
2. Talk to us about which diet is best for your pet.
There are so many pet foods on the market today it can be difficult to know which one is best for your pet. Each pet has its own specific nutritional needs, so it is best to go over this with your veterinarian.
3. Bring your pet in for regular checkups and dental cleanings.
We recommend you bring your pet in every 6 months for a checkup. When your pet comes in for a checkup we will check their teeth and gums.
As I mentioned above, dental disease can be progressing under the gums without you knowing about it. This can happen even when you are brushing your pet’s teeth. For this reason, professional cleaning should be regularly scheduled to remove the plaque and tartar buildup.
4. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth.
A study from 2020 found that nearly 70% of pet parents never brush their dog’s teeth. This has also been found the case with cat parents. We believe the problem is that most pet parents don’t understand the importance of brushing their pet’s teeth or, they don’t know how to.
To help you, here is a great video on how to brush your pet’s teeth from the AMVA:
If you are unable to brush your pet’s teeth, we have several products that can help decrease bacteria, plaque and tartar buildup.
- Oravet Chews – These are a one chew once a day treat for dogs that is designed to take the place of brushing the teeth. They are soft and chewy and allow dogs teeth to sink into them cleaning the teeth and gumline.
- Periosupport Pro – This is a powder that is sprinkled on food for cats and dogs that sticks along the gum line where dental disease starts and decreases bacterial in the mouth.
- Teef! Drinking Water Additive – This is a powder that is diluted in your dog’s water. It is all natural and decreases plaque forming bacteria in the mouth. It is like using mouthwash every time your dog takes a drink. It not only helps prevent tartar and plaque, but decreases bad breath.
- SANOS Dental Sealant – This product is a sealant that is applied to your pets teeth after we clean and polish them. It lasts on the teeth for 6 months, then slowly will start to wear off. It prolongs the life of the dental and will slow the progression of plaque and tartar after a dental cleaning, making your pet need to have their teeth cleaned less frequently.
Friday Smile Club
And in case you haven’t heard, we have a Friday Smile Club. Make an appointment for a dental cleaning on Friday’s only, and receive 10% off of the entire dental procedure! Take home a FREE dental kit that includes a toothbrush and toothpaste to help prevent tarter and gingivitis! Plus, your pet will have their picture taken and placed in the clinic reception area and on our website for everyone to see!
Your pet’s health depends on you regularly brushing their teeth and bringing them in for regular checkups and dental cleanings. Call us to schedule your FREE dental exam during the month of February in honor of Nation Dental Health Month! The time you spend taking care of your pet’s teeth will reward you with a healthier, happier pet.
Dr. Tammy Stevenson
Advanced Pet Care Clinic