As it is with humans, dental health is an important part of a pet’s overall health, as dental problems can cause health issues for cats, dogs, and other companion animals. Pet dental care can prevent and treat a variety of oral problems in pets, thereby reducing the risk of other illnesses.
Pets can experience a variety of dental problems throughout their lives. These pet problems can include:
- Broken teeth
- Loose teeth
- Gum disease, known as periodontal disease
- Infected teeth
- Tumors or cysts in the mouth
- Misalignment of the teeth and bite, known as malocclusion
- Broken jaw
- Cleft palate and other palate defects
Periodontal disease is the most common dental problem in cats and dogs, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association. Most dogs and cats show early signs of gum disease by the time they are 3 years old; periodontal disease will worsen in these pets without proper dental care.
Gum disease starts with plaque, which is a mixture of sticky, colorless film of bacteria and sugars that constantly form on the teeth. Plaque hardens into tartar, which can cause infection and damage to the jawbone beneath the gum line.
Pet Dental Care Includes Treatment and Prevention of Periodontal Disease and Other Oral Health Issues
Early detection and treatment for periodontal disease and other pet dental problems is essential, as gum disease and other oral problems can affect the rest of the body. Periodontal disease may cause unhealthy changes to an animal’s kidneys, liver, and heart muscle.
Veterinary health professionals use x-rays and dental cleanings to detect and treat periodontal disease in pets. Dental cleanings effectively remove the plaque and tartar to prevent and treat gum disease.
Pet dental care for other problems depends largely on the type of problem and its severity. A pet in need of dental care may show certain signs, such as:
- Bad breath
- Loose or broken teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Teeth covered in tartar
- Extra teeth
- Baby teeth that never came out
- Abnormal chewing or dropping food from the mouth while eating
- Excessive drooling
- Loss of appetite
- Refusing to eat
- Pain in or around the mouth
- Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
- Bleeding from the mouth
Pet dental care for these problems may include tooth extraction, antibiotics for infections, and dental cleanings.
To minimize pain and anxiety, veterinarians typically perform some types of pet dental care after administering anesthesia to the animal. While anesthesia does carry some risks, it keeps pets safe and improves dental care outcomes.
Pet Dental Care at Home
Pet owners can perform many types of pet dental care at home. Regular brushing of pets’ teeth is the most important thing pet owners can do to keep their pets’ teeth healthy in between visits to the veterinarian.
Some products can improve pet dental health. Many manufacturers now offer dental hygiene chews that help remove plaque in dogs, for example, and offer special toothpastes for cats.
For more information about the importance of pet dental care, and to learn more about the prevention and treatment of oral health problems in dogs and cats, pet owners should speak with their veterinarians. Contact All Animals Vet today at 706-216-8387