Your pet is an important part of your life. Good nutrition, adequate exercise, and regular veterinarian visits are crucial to keep your pet as healthy and happy as possible. Many people, however, may often overlook the importance of dental care. Just as good dental care can contribute to the overall health of people; it’s just as important for animals. There are several reasons why keeping your pet’s teeth clean and pet dental care is essential for good health, ways to keep a pet’s teeth in top condition, and signs of dental disease every pet owner should be aware of.
Reasons Why Pet Dental Care is So Important for Your Pet
According to the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) dental care is related to several aspects of overall good health and well-being. There are many reasons why practicing good hygiene and keeping teeth and gums as clean as possible are important for your pet.
- Bad Breath – Maintaining good dental care can help prevent bad breath. While bad breath isn’t always a sign of a health problem, it’s much more pleasant to spend time close to your pet when their breath is clean and fresh.
- Pets can Lose Their Teeth – Tooth loss can occur at virtually any age in a pet. Both cats and dogs can get periodontal disease which can even lead to tissue destruction and bone loss. This type of dental disease is normally caused by a buildup of plaque.
- Pets Often Hide Painful Issues – Your pet can’t directly tell you when they don’t feel well. Animals can hide pain and health problems until they’ve often become quite serious. Regular dental care can alert you to any problems your pet is having with their teeth or gums.
- Dental Care Can Prevent Further Health Problems – Dental and gum disease may lead to or be an indication of heart or kidney problems. Good dental care is not only for healthy teeth but should be seen as preventative medicine for your pet.
Tips for Keeping Your Pets Teeth Clean
There are several steps you can follow to keep an animal’s teeth and gums as healthy as possible.
- Commit to Regular Brushing – Just as your teeth should be brushed on a regular basis, so should your pets. While it may not be possible to brush on a daily basis, even a few times a week can make a difference. Since it’s extremely difficult to get cats, and some dogs, to sit still for tooth brushing it may be necessary to purchase dental pads to wipe excess food and bacteria off the gums and teeth.
- Choose Healthy Food and Treats – When it comes to choosing the best food and treats for a pet there are a few things to keep in mind. Compressed rawhide often involves chemical processing and should be avoided, as should animal and cornstarch chews. Pressed pork chews are softer than cow rawhide, high in protein, and easily digestible. Fresh produce such as carrots or seedless apple slices are also good options.
- Use Dental Toys – Pets love to chew on toys. You should give your pet toys that are specifically made to promote healthy teeth and gums. Rubber toys are sometimes recommended as they are flexible and usually won’t chip the teeth. Look for toys that have a seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
- Schedule a Dental Cleaning – Along with yearly health exams make sure your veterinarian exams your pet’s teeth and gums. This may include x-rays, since most dental disease occurs below the gum line. According to the American Veterinarian Medical Association (AVMA) a thorough dental cleaning is done under anesthesia. This procedure normally includes scaling and polishing.
Signs and Symptoms of Dental Disease in Pets
It’s important to spot any sign of disease in its early stages. The WebMD states that loose teeth and bleeding gums are both symptoms of dental disease in pets. Chewing on one side of the mouth, lumps in the mouth area, and excessive sneezing or nasal discharge may also be signs that your pet’s teeth and gums are diseased. Problems picking up food and not even wanting you to pet their head are signs that your pet may be experiencing dental disease. It’s important to pay attention to your pet’s overall health and daily habits in order to pick up on any changes.
Because symptoms may not be noticeable until disease has become advanced it’s imperative to make sure your pet receives a complete exam at least once a year with a qualified veterinarian. Some smaller breeds of dogs may require a dental check-up or cleaning every 6 months. Routine check-ups along with regular care at home will ensure that your pet stays as happy and healthy as possible.