Dental care for pets is an aspect that many pet owners overlook. Proper pet dental care involves having your pet’s teeth and gums checked at least once a year by a veterinarian. Doing this checks for early indications of any problems that may be present and promotes your pet’s good health overall. Dental problems can be the cause of health problems, and in other cases the effect.
Just like people, pets can develop various dental conditions. One early sign of possible dental problems is a pet becoming unusually irritable. Be sure to take caution when examining your pet’s mouth as an animal in pain may bite.
According to AMVA, Periodontal disease is the most common dental problem in both dogs and cats. If nothing is done to prevent it, it only worsens as the pet grows older. There are other health problems that go hand in hand with periodontal disease such as kidney, liver and heart changes.
Other possible pet dental care issues that your veterinarian will check for include: broken teeth and roots, abscesses or infection in teeth, mouth cysts or tumors, misalignment of teeth, a fractured jaw or palate defects.
What to Expect
When you take your pet to the vet for dental procedures, be aware that it requires the use of anesthesia. This is to stop the pet from moving, trying to escape or biting. By using anesthesia, the vet can perform the dental procedures without your pet feeling pain or discomfort.
If your pet has periodontal disease, he or she will need a thorough dental cleaning and x-rays. This will help determine how serious of a case it is. It is graded on a scale of 0 to 4. Periodontal disease happens when plaque and tartar develop underneath the gum line. After your pet gets a dental procedure from their vet, they can go home the same day, although they might be a bit on the sleepy side.
The best thing you can do for your pet’s oral health is to remove plaque and tartar on a regular basis. Although it may seem unrealistic to brush your pet’s teeth every day, it is a good idea to get into a habit of brushing them several times a week, at least. If this is a new concept for your pet, it is a good idea to start out like this.
To introduce teeth brushing to your pet, try wrapping a washcloth around your finger and using it like you would use a toothbrush on them. Be sure to start at the gum line, out to the tips of the teeth. You can keep doing this for a couple of weeks, before switching to a toothbrush.
When choosing a toothbrush for your pet, it should have very soft bristles. Be sure to use toothpaste that is made for pets, as human toothpaste will upset your pet’s stomach. You should only spend a minute or two brushing your pet’s teeth, to make sure the sessions are short and positive.
Looking for pet dental care products? Here are some recommendations from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. They recommend ESSENTIAL™ Healthymouth™ Gel and Brush Combination, as well as the anti-plaque oral spray and anti-plaque water additive made by the same company. There are also specific foods that will help reduce tartar on dog’s teeth. One of these is Science Diet® Oral Care for Dogs, and another is Purina Pro Plan Veterinary Diets Dental Chewz™ Dog Treats. For a complete list of foods and products deemed to be good for your pet’s teeth by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.