If you’ve ever experienced the pain of a root canal, you know that dental health is not something to be taken lightly. We moan and groan over the slightest toothache, yet our pets, who usually hide their dental disease signs, will eat hard food with loose teeth, abscessed teeth, or no teeth at all. All too often, a pet’s dental health falls to the wayside, because they offer so few indications of trouble. But, oral health is vital to your furry friend’s overall well-being, so follow these five tips to boost her dental health, and help her stay free of oral pain and infection.
#1: Know the signs of dental disease in your pet
You can’t tackle a problem you can’t identify, so brush up on your knowledge of periodontal disease signs in pets, which include:
- Bad breath
- Red, inflamed gums
- Brown or yellow plaque and tartar on the teeth
- Loose or missing teeth
- Broken or discolored teeth
- Bleeding from the gums
- Pawing at the mouth
- Difficulty eating
- Dropping food from one side of the mouth
- Oral masses
- Swelling under the eyes on the muzzle
Although many pet owners believe their furry companion’s stinky breath is normal, there is a difference between typical doggy breath and halitosis caused by dental disease. If your pet’s breath has a foul odor, that is often one of the first signs of dental disease.
#2: Brush your pet’s teeth daily
It’s already a struggle to get your children to brush their teeth before school, and now you have to tackle your cat’s toothbrushing routine? The gold standard of dental hygiene for pets is the same as people—daily brushing, or twice daily, if you can. Plaque begins attaching to teeth almost immediately after eating, and quickly hardens into cement-like tartar if not removed. Taking the time to teach your pet to allow toothbrushing is the best way to boost her dental health.
#3: Choose approved dental-health products for your pet
As you wander the pet-store aisles, boastful marketing leaps out. A bag of dental chews claims to be “Veterinarian Recommended,” while another package claims it contains the “Number One Dental Health Treat.” It’s easy to become overwhelmed by the multitude of dental-health products and their claims, many of which, unfortunately, are not backed up by research. The only approval agency is the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), which is strictly voluntary for manufacturers, who must prove their products’ claims. When choosing your pet’s dental product, look for the VOHC seal of approval on the package. These are the only products that can truly back up their claims.
#4: Opt for routine professional dental cleanings for your pet
No matter how thoroughly you brush your pet’s teeth, you cannot reach all the accumulated plaque and tartar. As much as 60% of each tooth lies below the gumline, where it can still attract oral bacteria, leading to a painful infection. Therefore, take advantage of regular dental cleanings by our team. When your pet visits us for a dental cleaning, we will take dental X-rays while she is under anesthesia to ensure we find every potential problem, including those under the gumline. Once we’ve evaluated your pet’s mouth for problems, we can proceed to clean, scale, polish, and treat each and every tooth, leaving your best friend with a healthy, clean smile.
#5: Schedule dental wellness exams for your pet
While we always check your pet’s teeth and oral cavity for disease signs during annual wellness visits, some pets need more frequent veterinary dental care. Toy and small breeds, and pets with flattened muzzles, are more prone to rapidly develop dental disease, and often require more extensive dental care than other pets. Stay on top of your furry friend’s dental health by scheduling a dental wellness exam for a simple check-up, or if you notice a problem.
Are you worried about tooth trouble in your pet? Contact us to schedule an appointment so our team can check out your four-legged friend’s oral health.