Why does my pet have bad breath? Do I need to brush my dog or cats teeth regularly? These are just some of the questions that clients ask when it comes to their pet's dental health. Dental care is very important for our pets just like it is for us.
The Truth About Pet Dental Care
PETS NEED DENTAL CARE, TOO: For most of us, caring for our teeth and gums has been part of our daily routine for as long as we can remember. Just like it is for you, oral health care is important for your pets - Regular professional care from veterinarians and home care from pet owners, are needed to help decrease plaque build up. Daily brushing and home care is also an important step in the process.
PET DENTAL FACTS
- Periodontal disease is the most prevalent disease among dogs and cats
- An astounding 80% of dogs and cats show signs of oral disease by age three, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS)
- Periodontal disease is common in dogs of smaller breeds because dogs teeth often are too large for their mouths, forcing the teeth closer together
- Dogs start out with 28 deciduous (baby) teeth, cats start out with 26 deciduous teeth. By six months of age, these baby teeth fall out and are replaced by permanent teeth, 42 in the dog and 30 in the cat.
- Broken teeth are a common problem for dogs, especially among outdoor dogs. According to veterinary dental experts; aggressive chewing on hard objects or frozen objects is a primary cause of broken teeth in dogs.
- Odontoclastic resorptive lesions are the most common tooth disease in domestic cats. Studies show that about 28% of domestic cats develop at least one of these painful tooth root cavities during their lifetime.
CAUSES OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
Plaque is a colorless film that contains large amounts of bacteria. If left unchecked, plaque builds up, creating calculus, leading to infection, destroying gum tissue and resulting in the loss of bone that supports the teeth. Preventive oral care can reduce the formation of plaque and help maintain proper oral health throughout a pets life.
SIGNS OF PERIODONTAL DISEASE
All pets are at risk for developing dental problems. Once a pet displays any of the warning signs below, serious periodontal disease may be present. Don't wait for these signs:
- Tooth loss
- Subdued behavior
- Abnormal drooling or swollen facial areas
- Dropping food out of mouth
- Swallowing food whole
- Bad breath
- Yellow-brown crust on teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Going to the food bowl, but not eating
- Change of chewing or eating habits
- Poor Oral Hygiene: Ignoring the condition of a pets mouth can lead to periodontal disease, tooth loss and other health problems
- Breed: Periodontal disease is more common in smaller breeds of dogs and certain breeds of cats
- Age: Periodontal disease is more common as pets grow older
TREATMENT OF ORAL DISEASE
Keep a look out for warning signs of oral disease. Common indications include bad breath, a change in eating or chewing habits, pawing at the face or mouth and depression. If any of these signs are present, the pet should be taken to the veterinarian for a dental exam. The first step in preventing oral disease is a routine physical examination, including a dental exam under anesthesia. Xrays and testing the periodontal depths of each tooth reveals the degree of oral disease and infection. Periodontal treatments and extraction of failing teeth restore oral health and better breath. Pet owners should practice a regular dental care regimen at home, which may include brushing the pets teeth with specially formulated toothpastes and/or oral rinses.
Pet owners should schedule regular follow-up care every year with their family veterinarian.