Your Pet’s Dental Health Matters

By February 13, 2020 Health

This February, celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month with us. Dental care plays an important role in your pet’s overall health, so we’re sharing some important information about why we make dental care a priority at South Branch.

By 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease (also called dental or gum disease). With periodontal disease may come other potential health problems—and not just in the pet’s mouth. Besides gum recession, infection, and tooth loss, periodontal disease can cause changes in the heart, kidneys, and liver.

Periodontal Disease in Pets

Plaque forms on teeth (pet and human alike) constantly. When it’s not removed regularly (through brushing), it changes into hardened tartar, which can’t be brushed away. Plaque continues to form on top of the tartar.

Eventually, if these layers of bacteria-laden tartar aren’t removed through a professional veterinary cleaning, the pet will end up with inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which will progress to infection and loss of tooth support (advanced periodontal disease).

When pets don’t receive regular dental care, they may need more than just a cleaning. Dental extractions may be required to remove infected teeth and make a pet’s mouth healthy again.

Signs of Dental Trouble in Pets

Contact your South Branch veterinarian if you notice any of the following:

  • Bad breath
  • Brown or yellow teeth
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Reluctance or refusal to eat
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Sneezing

Bad breath in pets isn’t normal. It’s almost always a sign of oral issues.

Steps to Keep Your Pet’s Mouth Healthy

  1. Schedule a Professional Dental Exam

Bringing your pet in for regular veterinary dental exams and cleanings is the first step to achieving better dental health for your dog or cat.

We use dental radiographs (x-rays) to get a true picture of what your pet’s teeth look like under the gums—not just on the surface. We can only assess around 40% of a dog or cat’s teeth by just looking at them. The rest is hidden under the gums, so we use x-rays to show us what might be lurking unseen, such as painful root disease, tooth resorption, or the extent of a cracked tooth. That way, we can be sure we’re properly treating your pet.

  1. Make Home Care a Priority

You play an essential role in your pet’s dental health. Brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the most important ways you can help keep periodontal disease at bay.

Never use human toothpaste in pets! It contains ingredients that can make your pet sick.

Although daily brushing is ideal, we understand that it may not always be possible. Fortunately, you have a number of dental products to choose from that can also help control plaque and tartar buildup in your pet:

  • Special dental diets and chews
  • Dental toys
  • Oral rinses and sprays
  • Drinking water additives
  • Dental sealants (which your pet’s vet will apply first, after a cleaning, and then need to be reapplied at home)

Not all dental products are created equal. Look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance, and ask us what products we recommend.

By being proactive about dental care, you can help protect your pet’s overall health.

Schedule Your Pet’s Dental Exam Today

At South Branch, we recommend that pets visit us at least once a year for a dental evaluation. We’ll examine your pet’s teeth and gums and let you know what we recommend to maintain or improve your pet’s oral health. Call or schedule an appointment today!

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