Many pet owners groom and exercise their pets regularly, but may not think about brushing their pets’ teeth. Although February isn’t the only time to think about your pets’ teeth, it is a great time to get started. Dental disease in our dogs and cats has become widespread with 85% of dogs and cats showing signs of oral disease by age four according to the American Veterinary Dental Society. Fortunately there are very simple steps you can take to ensure that your pet has good oral health.
All pet owners should start a routine of preventive dental care for their animals in consultation with their veterinarians because oral disease can lead to serious medical consequences, including infection, severe pain, and even organ damage. With regular maintenance at home and routine check-ups and professional dental care, most of these issues can be avoided. The first thing to do at home is to regularly look at your pet’s teeth. Signs that “Fluffy” needs professional help include:
Your veterinarian will evaluate for dental disease when your pet is having their “annual exam and vaccines” and will advise you of any needed dental care. If there is evidence of periodontal disease, a professional cleaning is recommended. Depending on your pet’s age and health, the doctor may recommend bloodwork, xrays, and other tests prior to general anesthesia and the dental procedure. The cleaning and polishing of the teeth is done under general anesthesia to ensure that we are able to evaluate every surface of every tooth. Our pets are just not as cooperative as we are about saying “ahhhh” when requested.
After the dental procedure recommendations will be made for follow up care and preventive care of the teeth at home. Regular brushing is a critical part of the home care routine and there are special toothbrushes and toothpastes for pets. There are also special “dental” diets and treats that help with preventing accumulation of plaque, tartar, and calculus. Your veterinarian can provide customized recommendations for your pet.
Catawba Animal Clinic encourages all pet owners to review their pets’ dental care and take the necessary steps to ensure that their pets’ have healthy teeth and gums.