With the exception of a pet owner going in for a slobbery kiss or cuddle they rarely take a peek into the mouths of their cat or dog. Many are unaware that the buildup of bacteria lurking within the crevices of pet’s teeth may contribute to serious health complications. In recognition of February being National Pet Dental Health Month, Central Veterinary Associates (CVA) reminds pet owners to protect their fanged friends’ health through routine dental care.
Many people are unaware that, like with humans, poor dental hygiene is a leading factor in the health of a pet’s internal organs. The continuous build up of tartar over time may lead to inflammation of an animal’s gums, gingivitis, or serious infections such as periodontitis. Left untreated, periodontitis may lead to bone loss, painful abscesses, difficulty eating or infection of the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys caused by the spread of bacteria through the blood stream.
“People are accustomed to going to regular checkups with their dentists and brushing their teeth on a daily basis, however oftentimes neglect the maintenance of their pet’s dental hygiene,” says Dr. John Charos, DVM, President/CEO, Central Veterinary Associates. “I always emphasize the importance of good dental hygiene with pet owners. The well-being of cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits and other pets can be affected by proper care for pet’s 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.”
Bad breath is an indicator that pet owners should address the dental care of their dog or cat. The recognition of a drastic change in the scent of the pet’s breath should prompt them to bring the animal in for a full dental exam at their local veterinarian’s office, which is encouraged annually. This will allow your veterinarian to visually examine the pet’s face, mouth, teeth and gums. Sometimes, the doctor sedates the pet in order to get a thorough look inside its mouth to ensure there are no dental diseases.
Pet owners can improve their pet’s dental health through regular maintenance, such as brushing the cat or dog’s teeth. Since cats and dogs do not know to “swish” or “spit” on command, it is important to purchase a pet-approved, non-toxic toothpaste that contains enzymes to break down the plaque. Unlike the ones made for human dental hygiene, pet toothpaste is edible and has a flavorful taste, which comes in handy when trying to appeal to the animal. Proper dental care standards suggest that pet owners brush their pet’s teeth at least two or three times a week to prevent dental diseases, plaque buildup and bad breath.
In addition to regular cleanings and brushing, anti-bacterial supplements are available for water dishes, which can reduce the amount of oral bacteria that causes foul-smelling mouth odors. Pet treats, created with animal-safe ingredients that clean teeth, eradicate plaque, strengthen gums and leaves breath smelling fresh, are available at local pet stores. There are also veterinary prescription diets available that can be used if your veterinarian deems appropriate.
CVA keeps its hospital in Valley Stream open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, even in the event of a natural disaster.