Dog and Cat Dental Issues Can Signal Underlying Health Concerns
Millions of pet owners may notice their pet’s dirty teeth or bad breath while playing and petting them, and typically do not take these issues too seriously. However, what many dog and cat owners may not realize is that poor oral care can affect a pet’s overall health. Central Veterinary Associates wants you to recognize “National Pet Dental Health Month” this February by ensuring that your pet receives appropriate dental care — it could end up saving their life.
Unbeknownst to many, poor dental hygiene ultimately affects a pet’s internal organs. If plaque builds up over time, it turns into tartar, which impacts areas of the mouth that can “seed” to other parts of the body. Tartar can also cause periodontal disease, which is an oral condition that affects the gums. It eventually results in the loss of teeth, along with extreme pain. Often, by the time dogs and cats reach their third birthday, 80% of them are diagnosed with some form of dental disease, according to recent studies.
The initial warning sign that indicates the need for more dental care is unbearable foul breath. If you notice a drastic change in the scent of your dog’s breath, it is crucial to bring them for a full dental exam at your veterinarian’s office. The examination will allow your vet to visually examine your pet’s face, mouth, teeth, and gums. An annual dental exam is recommended for all pets.
Another way to improve pets’ dental health is by brushing their teeth. Since dogs and cats do not “swish and spit” toothpaste on command, it is vital that you buy pet-approved toothpaste because it contains enzymes that break down plaque. Unlike human toothpaste, pet toothpaste is edible and has a flavorful taste, which makes it more appealing to pets. Make sure to brush your pet’s teeth daily to prevent dental diseases, plaque, and bad breath.
In addition to brushing, there are dental diets, dental chews, and oral rinses to help prevent dental disease. All of these products, along with learning how to brush a pet’s teeth, can be discussed during a general checkup.
“Throughout my time as a veterinarian, I’ve had to discuss the importance of good dental hygiene with pet owners,” says Dr. John Charos, DVM, President/CEO, Central Veterinary Associates. “Owners do not realize the long-term hazards they may bring upon their pet if they do not take the time to properly care for their teeth, gums, and breath. Owners should consider visiting their vet for a full pet dental exam to better understand how dental health affects overall health.”