Dental Care for Dogs and Cats
Proper dental care for dogs and cats is a very important component of responsible pet ownership however it is one of the aspects in pet health which has been taken for granted. Dental disease does not only affect the mouth but it is also a culprit in serious health problems involving the heart, lungs, and kidneys.
Studies have shown that proper dental care in pets can add two to five years to their life. The American Veterinary Dental Association (AVDS) has stated that almost 80% of dogs and 70% of cats are suffering from periodontal disease by the time they are three years old. Like people, pets are also susceptible to a variety of oral health problems particularly Periodontal disease and Gingivitis.
Dogs and cats are prone to buildup of tartar and plaque. If your pet does not receive regular dental checkups and cleaning, the plaque and tartar buildup often increases the risk of occurrence of Periodontal disease that often predisposes serious health problems.
Health Risks of Poor Dental Care
Gingivitis signals the early stage of Periodontal disease. Bacteria and plaque buildup result in the formation of tartar and calculus. These deposits can irritate the tissues of the gums surrounding the teeth causing inflammation and eventually infection. It is during this time when gingivitis is most noticeable.
Aside from sensitive gums that can easily bleed, your pet may also have trouble chewing or eating. It may also have bad breath (‘doggy breath’) that often has a characteristic ‘rotten eggs’ scent. The unpleasant odor is brought about the by-products of bacteria which are present in the mouth.
At this stage, Gingivitis can still be easily treated by a thorough dental cleaning. When left untreated, it can rapidly progress to the more serious Periodontal disease which is difficult if not impossible to treat.
The development of Periodontal Disease is characterized by irreversible loss of bone and tooth damage. Your dog or cat can also suffer from loose teeth that often simply fall out as a result of the weakened roots.
Pets suffering from Periodontal disease often have difficulties eating and/or chewing their food thus they lose weight. Your pet will then suffer from nutritional deficiencies as a result. Dental treatment including teeth extraction may have to be done. These types of dental procedures have to be performed under anesthesia which presents another risk to your pet.
Since bacteria is present in Periodontal disease, there is a big possibility that it may spread throughout the body via the bloodstream and causing infection in the heart, lungs, liver, or kidneys. These diseases can damage your pet’s vital organs and may result in premature death.
Importance of Regular Dental Cleaning
A good dental care program starts as early as possible when your pets are still young. During routine examination, your veterinarian can check your pet’s mouth for malocclusion problems and retained deciduous teeth. With the help of your veterinarian, you can design a good home dental health program.
Home Dental Care
Aside from regular visits to your pet’s dentist, a good home dental care program is very important to protect your pet’s teeth and gums from Gingivitis and/or Periodontal disease. As in most disease conditions, prevention is better than seeking treatment.
Proper brushing of your pet’s teeth is a very important aspect in dental health. Your veterinarian can show you how to do it properly during your regular checkup. It is good to start familiarizing your pet with the routine as early as possible. There are toothbrushes designed for dogs and cats in pet stores and special-flavored toothpaste for your pet’s enjoyment. Never use toothpaste manufactured for people because it can possibly lead to digestive disturbances.
If you are not comfortable with using a toothbrush, you can use a gauze or soft cloth wrapped around your finger and gently rubbing your pet’s teeth in a circular motion.