Do dogs need dental care? Yes, yes and yes. The lack of dental care can greatly effect your pets health in more than one way beyond what you can see and smell. Check out this article: “8 possible causes for your dog’s bad breath”
Practicing good dental hygiene at home, in addition to regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian, is the most efficient and cost-effective way to keep your pets healthy, comfortable and pain-free. One of the most common problems veterinarians see in pets is dental disease, and, unfortunately, these issues can get serious if untreated. I remind pet owners that an untreated dental infection can spread to the heart, kidneys and other organs, and suddenly become life threatening.
Brushing is the gold standard, and many dogs and some cats will tolerate having their teeth brushed if the introduction to brushing is managed gently and gradually. In addition, several companion animal nutrition companies offer dental diets. The texture of those foods generates a mechanical cleansing effect on the surface of the tooth as the pet is eating. Dental treats such as chews can also be effective, either mechanically by scraping the tooth surface or by chemically removing excess calcium in saliva that could otherwise be deposited on the teeth as calculus. There are also plaque-retardant products available in the form of a water additive, spray, gel or dentifrice, and products that are used to seal the surface of the teeth to prolong the beneficial effect of professional dental scaling. Talk to your veterinarian for more advice about preventing dental disease in your pets.
While regular dental checkups are essential to help maintain your pet’s dental health, there are a number of signs that dental disease has already started. If you notice any of the symptoms below, take your pet into your veterinarian immediately:
Red swollen gums and brownish teeth.
Bad breath—Most pets have breath that is less than fresh, but if it becomes truly repugnant, similar to the smell of a rotten egg, it’s a sign that periodontal disease has already started.
Bleeding from the mouth.
Requent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth.
Reluctance to eat hard foods—for example, picking it up and then spitting it out.
Alternatives to brushing your cat’s teeth
If you’ve never brushed your cat’s teeth, you’re not alone. Here are some alternatives to tooth brushing that, although not as effective, still do help maintain your cat’s oral health. If you do brush your cat’s teeth daily, keep up the good work! For those who just don’t get around to it, here are some ideas for maintaining good oral health. Maintaining the health of your cats teeth and gums helps prevent more serious health problems down the line.
- There are some dry cat foods that are formulated to help prevent dental disease. Look for a food with the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval. It is not required that you feed your cat this food exclusively, just add some in with kitty’s regular food every day, and it will provide some benefit.
- There are drinking water additives that are super easy to use. Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of approval on this too. It will let you know that a product has undergone testing.
- Another strategy to try is tooth wiping. To do this, wrap one finger in a piece of gauze and apply a small amount of feline toothpaste to it. Then run your finger once along each side of the cat’s teeth. This isn’t as thorough as brushing, but it is quick and may be tolerated better. It does get rid of some of the plaque that is developing, and it should take less than a minute. . . if your cat allows you to do it.
- Whether or not you brush your cat’s teeth, do be sure to schedule an appointment with Claus Paws for preventative dental maintenance regularly. It’s very important to your cat’s overall health.
Smile! February is National Pet Dental Health Month! And your Vancouver WA Veterinarian encourages participation.
Sure, you have thought about brushing your dog’s teeth, and maybe your pets get “dental treats” regularly. But when was the last time you “flipped the lip” to see what horrors are lurking in the dark recesses of that stinky mouth?
Don’t feel embarrassed – we see pets every day with severe dental disease. Many people don’t realize that plaque, calculus, and decaying teeth are the cause of many mouth odors. Even if it seems beyond hope to you, there are ways to get rid of that scary smell and get your pet on the road to a healthier life.
February has been designated as National Pet Dental Health Month for over a decade, and there are many resources you can find to learn about how dental disease affects the heart and other organs. In the month of February, we will focus on ways to keep your pet’s health at its best by focusing on dental issues of most concern to pet owners.
Remember, dental disease isn’t a “cosmetic” issue for your dog or cat – it affects every system in the body. While dental cleanings may seem extravagant, remember that staying on top of your pet’s health with regular exams and cleanings will extend the healthy life of your pet and save money in the long run. The doctors at Claus Paws aim to keep cleanings affordable, so that we can perform more “routine” cleanings and keep their mouths full of teeth. We love those smiles!
Dental month is nearly here – do you have a smiling pet photo to share? Call us and schedule your pet’s dental exam or cleaning today!
LEARN MORE about how a dental works!