Each year thousands of animals suffer needlessly from progressive dental disease. The American Veterinary Dental Society estimates that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have dental disease by the time they are three years old.
Dental problems are especially common in small breed dogs.
Cats also suffer from a unique condition called resorptive lesions. Studies have shown that 28-67% of cats have tooth resorption, the loss of tooth structure at or below the gum line. These lesions, which are different from cavities, can be very painful for the cat. Symptoms include mouth pain, difficulty chewing, changes in appetite or food preferences, drooling, and/or bleeding from the mouth. If your pet shows any of these symptoms, it is important to have the cat promptly evaluated by a Veterinarian.
Many clients first seek advice about dental issues when their pet develops extremely bad breath. The pet’s mouth may hurt and he/she may have difficulty eating. Besides these obvious issues, many secondary problems can be related to insufficient dental hygiene. Even some forms of heart disease can be traced back to dental problems. Other organs such as the liver and kidneys may also be affected.
Proper dental care can actually extend the life of your pet.
YOUR PET NEEDS TO SEE THE DOCTOR FOR A DENTAL EVALUATION IF
- You notice a change in your pet’s eating habits
- You have seen your pet paw or rub at his mouth
- Your pet has bad breath or drools excessively
- Your pet has red, swollen and/or bleeding gums
STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO IMPROVE YOUR PET’S DENTAL HEALTH
- PREVENTION IS ALWAYS THE BEST OPTION. Discuss your pet’s dental health during your pet’s annual vaccine appointment and schedule a dental cleaning if it is recommended by the Doctor. Regular dental care can prevent costly procedures, including extractions, later on!
- BRUSH YOUR PET’S TEETH! You can use special designed pet toothbrushes, a small washcloth, or even your finger. Take your time to allow your pet to become used to the brushing procedure. Eventually it can become an accepted routine. IMPORTANT: use only special pet toothpastes.
- If brushing does not suit your pet, there are special DENTAL RINSES that are squirted into the pet’s mouth.
- SPECIAL FOODS AND TREATS are available that help keep your pet’s teeth clean. Ask for more information.
MORE DO’S AND DON’TS
- Provide chew toys for your pet. These can help keep teeth clean by the rubbing action when your pet chews. An ideal toy should be flexible, softer than your pet’s teeth, and large enough that it cannot be swallowed.
- Lots of dogs love fuzzy tennis balls. The fuzzy texture can be very hard on the teeth, however, especially if the ball also has dirt or sand embedded in its surface. If your dog spends hours with a tennis ball in their mouth, you may want to try to introduce a smooth rubber ball as an alternative.