pet dental careAs a general rule, people brush and floss their teeth about twice a day (or least we’re supposed to). In fact, the act of caring for our teeth and gums is so essential to daily living that we can’t even fathom going a day without it. Animals may not have the same expectations for good-smelling breath and dazzling smiles, but nonetheless, they still benefit from oral health. If you’ve been wondering about pet dental care but weren’t sure where to start, we’ve got you covered. With February being National Pet Dental Health Month, we wanted to give you a good head start on your pet’s dental health for the new year!

The Low-Down

Every animal is unique, but the majority of cats and dogs display signs of periodontal (gum) disease by the age of three years old. In fact, periodontal disease is the most common diagnosis among the pets we know and love.

Dogs typically have 42 permanent teeth by adulthood, cats have 30, while adult humans have 32. It’s important to see what we can do to ensure everyone keeps those pearly whites.

Protect Against

Unchecked plaque builds up to form a filmy coating on the teeth. Full of bacteria, plaque can lead to infection, bone and tissue loss, and the destruction of teeth. Instead of waiting for the unfortunate signs of periodontal disease, make sure your pet’s teeth are examined 1-2 times a year and are cleaned professionally. Brushing at home several times a week can also greatly diminish any developing problems.

If you do notice any of the following symptoms, please call us right away so we can develop a pet dental care plan:

  • Tooth loss
  • Foul-smelling breath
  • Bleeding gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Withdrawn behavior
  • Swallowing unchewed food
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Depression

Managing Pet Dental Care

There are numerous pet toothpaste flavors to choose from, but pets should never be exposed to human toothpastes. In addition to daily brushing (or at least 2-3 times per week), pet owners should schedule routine examinations and cleanings every year to remove plaque and tartar build up.

Not only will your pet have better smelling breath, but by committing yourself to routine brushings and professional care, you’re preventing fewer problems down the road. Dental disease starts in the mouth, of course, but the bacteria can enter the bloodstream and cause irreparable damage to the liver, heart, and kidneys.

What Else You Can Do

Some owners just aren’t comfortable brushing their pet’s teeth, and sometimes, pets simply won’t allow it. Whatever the case may be, ignoring pet dental care at home isn’t an option. We’re happy to work with you to find the right combination of food, treats, and toys to reduce plaque and tartar in between professional cleanings.

Tune In

It’s always a good idea to watch your pet for any subtle signs of stress or pain. Please let us know if your pet is behaving differently or displays any obvious symptoms of dental disease. The team at Highway Veterinary Hospital is always here for your pet!