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Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease by the time they are 3 years old? Dental disease is a serious problem for pets and can lead to several health problems if left untreated. In this article, we will discuss the importance of dental health for your pet, and how you can help keep their teeth healthy!
What is Dental Disease?
Dental disease results from plaque buildup on your pet’s teeth. The bacteria in plaque causes the gums to become inflamed, a condition known as gingivitis. If left untreated, this bacteria can lead to periodontal disease and even tooth loss.
Dental disease is not only painful for your pet, but it also puts them at risk of other serious health problems. The bacteria that cause dental disease can also spread to other parts of the body, including the heart, liver, and kidneys.
Signs of Dental Disease
One of the first signs of dental disease is bad breath. If you notice your pet’s breath smelling worse than usual, it may be a sign that they have dental disease and should visit their veterinarian as soon as possible.
Other signs of dental disease include:
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Loss of appetite (due to the pain associated with dental disease)
- Pawing at the mouth
- Dark red or yellow gums
- Dark-colored teeth
How to Help Your Pet’s Dental Health
There are a number of things you can do at home to help keep your pet’s teeth healthy. The most important thing is to brush their teeth regularly. Purchase a canine or feline toothbrush and toothpaste specifically made for pets. Never use human toothpaste for your pets, as it can be toxic to them.
Start gradually, by first just getting your pet familiar with the toothbrush and toothpaste. Reward your pet’s compliance with treats, as this will help to make tooth-brushing time an enjoyable and positive experience.
Over time, work up to being able to gently brush the outside and inside of the teeth. Again, praise and rewards are highly important in establishing this as a routine.
There are also a variety of dental chews which can help remove plaque and tartar buildup. Although they are not a substitute for tooth brushing, they can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup in between visits to see us. Be sure to ask us for recommendations on the best dental chews for your pet.
Bring Your Pets to See Us
Even with routine dental care, it is important to have your pet’s teeth professionally cleaned by a veterinarian once a year. During a dental cleaning, one of our veterinarians will remove any plaque or tartar that has built up on your pet’s teeth and will check for signs of dental disease. We’ll also examine your pet’s gumline and possibly take radiographs (x-rays) of their teeth and gums.
Which Pets Need Dental Care?
In short, ALL PETS need dental care. However, some breeds are more prone to dental issues, such as:
- Yorkshire Terriers
- Shih Tzus
- Cocker Spaniels
- Persian Cats
- Siamese Cats
If your pet falls into one of these categories, it is even more important to have their teeth cleaned and monitored by a veterinarian on an annual basis.
Dental disease can be a serious problem for pets, but with regular brushing, frequent veterinary visits and professional dental cleanings, we can help keep your pet’s teeth healthy.
If we find any signs of dental disease, we will discuss treatment options with you and determine the best course of action for your pet’s health. For more information about our Smyrna area veterinary dental care services, give our team at VETERINARYCARE At Belmont ™ a call at (678) 581-4055 today!