February is Pet Dental Health Month
Can you imagine what your mouth would feel like if you stopped brushing your teeth? Good oral health is very important to your health and the same is true for your pets. Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy will help prevent periodontal disease. Up to 85% of pets over the age of 3 will have periodontal disease without regular dental care. Periodontal disease involves a bacterial infection affecting the supporting structures around teeth and the bone around the teeth. Periodontal disease leads to tooth loss and painful infections in the mouth. The infection involved in periodontal disease has also been linked to causing heart disease and other internal organ disease. Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy can help them live a healthier longer life. Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy involves both regular teeth brushing as well as routine veterinary dental cleanings.
5 Ways to Keep your Pet’s Mouth Healthy:
1. Beware of Bad Breath
Bad breath can be a warning sign of periodontal disease or other diseases in the mouth. Other warning signs to monitor for include bleeding gums, discolored teeth, loose teeth, pawing at the mouth, or loss of appetite. If you notice any of these signs an examination by a veterinarian is needed
2. Brush Your Pet’s Teeth
Using a pet enzymatic pet toothpaste to brush your pet’s teeth routinely can help keep your pet’s mouth healthy long term. Never use human toothpaste on dogs or cats, it must be a pet specific toothpaste. Most pet toothpaste will have a flavor that is favorable to your pet which will help them enjoy the process. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles or a finger toothbrush. Slowly introduce your pet to having their teeth brushed by starting with short frequent introductions to the process. Make it a positive experience by offering praise and a treat or toy after they have their teeth brushed. Ideally brushing your pet’s teeth every day is recommended however brushing a few times a week is still beneficial.
3. Consider Dental Treats
Dental treats are not as effective as brushing however they can promote good oral health. Not all dental treats are created equal. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on the best dental treats or chews for your pet.
4. Take Your Pet for Regular Veterinary Examinations
An examination can reveal many possible oral problems including tarter buildup, gingivitis, periodontal disease, abscesses, broken or loose teeth, or other diseases. Pets are stoic by nature so they will often hide any pain they are in. Broken or infected teeth are painful if not addressed. Many painful conditions can be missed without routine examinations.
5. Last but not Least, Dental Cleanings are Very important to your pet’s Health
Most dogs and cats need a professional veterinary prophylactic dental cleaning once a year. This procedure is similar to when we have our own teeth cleaned however the veterinary version requires anesthesia in order to do a thorough cleaning. Your pet will have an ultrasonic cleaning of their teeth and under the gumline, as well as a fluoride polish treatment and full mouth dental X-Rays. Dental X-Rays allow veterinarians to find any possible tooth root disease that cannot be seen otherwise. While many people hesitate to have their pet’s teeth cleaned due to fears of anesthesia complications, the truth is that safer anesthesia protocols, pre-anesthetic bloodwork, and thorough monitoring make it a very safe process for otherwise healthy pets.
If you are not sure if your pet is in need of a dental cleaning, call us for a FREE dental exam by one of our technicians! 10% of Dental Cleanings for the month of February!
Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy will help lead to a happier, healthier, and longer life.
Megan Hughes, DVM
Spring Branch Veterinary Hospital