Brush Those Teeth! The Importance of Maintaining Your Pet’s Dental Hygiene
The importance of a healthy dental care routine for your pet is often overlooked. Dental disease is one of the most prevalent health problems of cats and dogs. It has been estimated that more than 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the time they’re just three years old. Recent figures have these percentages even higher.
How to Spot Dental Disease
The best way to determine if your pet has dental disease is to have one of our highly experienced and trained veterinarians perform a check-up. That said, if you remain vigilant, there are some common symptoms of dental disease that you can spot at home. The symptoms include:
- Bad breath
- Lethargy, inactivity, or depression
- Red, swollen, and even bleeding gums
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Dropping food from mouth while eating
- Facial swelling
- Discharge from the nose or eyes
- Pawing at the face
- Poor grooming
- Teeth becoming loose or falling out
Why Is Pet Dental Hygiene Important?
Poor pet dental care can lead to oral cancer and periodontal disease. While bad in itself, these diseases are shown to be linked to other health problems throughout the body. Heart, kidney, and liver disease have all been linked to periodontal disease.
So What Can You Do to Help Your Pet?
Similarly to how it’s important for humans to brush their teeth regularly, it’s also important to brush your pet’s teeth! Train your pet at an early age to accept tooth brushing, and it will make a massive difference in your pet’s dental health. Aim for once a day, but a few times a week will work well too. If you’re going to use toothpaste (water will suffice), remember, dogs cannot use human toothpaste. It’s toxic for them!
A Healthy “Dental Diet”
You will be flooded with options when browsing online or in the pet store for food. Talk with one of our vets to learn more about which brands/foods are better than others to promote great dental health. There are specific dental diets that consist of dry food that is clinically proven to reduce plaque, stain, and tartar buildup. If nothing else, at least reconsider feeding your pet exclusively wet food, as it leads to a higher accumulation of plaque.
Just like your pet’s kibble, there are treats that are specifically designed to fight plaque and tartar and improve your furry friend’s teeth. While they should not replace regular brushing or check-ups, they are a good way to promote good dental health while giving your pet a treat.
Regular Dental Checkups
We can’t stress the importance of this enough! While brushing and dental diets are great steps to improve your pet’s dental health, the best way to diagnose and treat dental diseases, such as periodontal disease or oral cancer, is through regular dental exams administered by your vet. Through general anesthesia, we will be able to reach the spots you couldn’t, probe the gums, and screen for diseases that may be hidden otherwise.
Do Some Research
The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is a great resource to learn more about effective ways to care for your pet’s oral health. They even have a list of approved treats, foods, and products that promote great dental hygiene.
Check them out here!
As always, if you have a question about your pet’s dental health, you can call Bryan-Hight Veterinary Hospital at 229-246-8600, and we’ll assist you the best we can!