The Importance of Dental Health for your Pet
When it comes to keeping our pets healthy, pet parents often overlook the importance of oral hygiene. According to the American Veterinary Dental College, it’s estimated that the majority of pets show symptoms of dental or periodontal disease by three years of age.
One of the best (and easiest) indicators of oral disease is bad breath. Some pet parents believe that bad breath is something pets naturally have and consequently, often goes unnoticed and untreated.
It may not always be fresh, but your pet’s breath also shouldn’t be bad enough to make you gag.
It’s easy for many pet parents to overlook the importance of promoting good oral hygiene.
Why Dental Health is Important.
Every pet parent wants his or her beloved pet to have excellent oral hygiene.
Four reasons how poor dental care can affect your pet’s overall health:
- Bad Breath or Halitosis: If the odor of your pet’s breath makes you recoil, it’s time to seek good dental care.
- Tooth Loss: If structures supporting your pet’s teeth become infected, the teeth fall out.
- Oral Pain: Severe dental disease can be very painful for cats and dogs. Keep an eye out for the tell-tale** signs.
- Organ Damage. Bacteria in the plaque can enter the bloodstream and spread to the heart, kidneys and liver. This spread, called bacteremia, can damage organs and make your animal sick.
What is Pet Dental Disease?
Dental or periodontal disease affects the teeth, gums and the support structures that surround your pet’s teeth. It begins with a simple plaque buildup on the tooth enamel which contain bacteria and food particles.
If the plaque is not addressed, it remains on the tooth surface and eventually hardens into tartar. When tartar is above the gum line, our veterinary team can remove it relatively easily during a professional dental cleaning.
Tartar that makes its way below the gumline is the real problem.
Tartar below the gumline causes inflammation and not only damages the structures supporting the teeth but also causes infection. If dental disease reaches this stage, pets can experience severe dental problems and pain.
Factors Associated with Dental Disease.
- Age: Dental Disease is more common in older pets, but evidence can appear as soon as three years of age.
- Breed: Persians and other flat-faced cats and smaller dog breeds are more likely to have over-crowded or misaligned teeth that are difficult to keep clean, making them more prone to disease.
- Food/Diet: Some foods can increase your cat’s risk of dental disease, so ask your veterinarian for a nutritional recommendation.
Signs of Dental Disease in Your Pet.
Even if your pet isn’t outwardly showing signs of oral health issues, it’s worth asking our veterinarians during a regular health exam to help prevent potential problems.
Symptoms of oral health problems:
- Bad breath
- Yellow or brown crust on tooth surface
- Bleeding gums
- Change in chewing habits
- Tooth loss
If you observe any of these conditions, please make an appointment with us as soon as possible. That way, we can alleviate any further dental deterioration and get your pet on the right path to a healthy mouth.
3 Ways to Promote Better Dental Health for Your Pet.
Protecting the oral health of your pet is super important for many of the reasons we’ve outlined above. Although ‘perfect’ oral hygiene can be elusive, there are ways to be proactive and help stave off the possibility of dental disease.
If there is one best option you can choose to address your pet’s dental health, we suggest visiting our veterinarian for a professional exam. Our veterinarian knows what’s best for your pet’s teeth and will be able to address any issues she finds.
Investing in preventative oral hygiene is one of the best ways to keep your pet healthy.
1. Professional Dental Cleanings
One of the many services the Cabbagetown Pet Clinic offers is dental cleaning. The best way to ensure your pet’s oral health is to have them undergo a professional cleaning by our veterinary team.
These cleanings require general anesthesia to allow our veterinarians to clean above and below the gumline. This ensures that your pet’s entire mouth is scrubbed.
Although more costly,* a professional dental cleaning is the best way to improve and maintain your pet’s oral hygiene.
2. Diet/Prescription Pet Food
It’s always a good idea to discuss nutrition with our veterinarians for many reasons, dental health included.
Generally, we recommend Hills Prescription Diet t/d Dental Care.
- Fibre Matrix: the fine structure of in the kibble scrubs the tooth surface to clean teeth and keeps breath fresh.
- Distinctive Fibre Alignment: helps kibble stay in contact with the tooth surface right to the gumline. This allows the kibble to gently scrub away plaque and tartar.
- Pets love it.
Although this food is a very popular, it doesn’t mean that it’s the best solution for your particular situation. A consultation with our veterinarians will provide recommendations that will get your pet on the right path to a healthy mouth.
3. Healthy Oral Hygiene Habits for Pet Parents
A preventative measure pet owners can take is to brush your pet’s teeth. Yes, this is a thing and is done to prevent plaque from mineralizing into tartar. Getting your pet comfortable to brushing can take time and patience, so make sure your reward your furry family member for their cooperation!
- Introducing the toothpaste: use a finger toothbrush or an index finger wrapped in gauze and gently rub pet-specific toothpaste over your pet’s teeth and gums. A splash of chicken broth or tuna juice can make it more palatable.
- Brushing: brush teeth and gums gently, finishing with the bottom front teeth. Focus on the outside surface facing the cheek, as this part is most prone to tartar build up.
Combine all 3 factors and you’ll have no trouble keeping your pet’s oral health in tip-top shape.
*Cabbagetown Care Plans w/ Dental Cleanings
For some, the cost of regular dental cleanings can be prohibitive. To help alleviate this, we offer a preventative health care program – Cabbagetown Care – to spread out the costs of regular veterinary care, including dental cleanings over the year. This helps you budget and ensure your pet receives all the care necessary to keep them happy and healthy.
Contact us today to see how you can save money on your pet’s health care.