Most pet owners don’t realize that dental disease in dogs and cats is one of the most common problems veterinarians have to treat.
Why do dental problems occur?
Like humans, plaque and tartar build up on the teeth. This is formed by food particles and bacteria which combine with salivary secretions where the teeth rise above the gum line. If this plaque is allowed to accumulate unchecked, it eventually causes a variety of dental conditions that range from mild discomfort and bad breath, to tooth root abscesses and difficulty eating. Naturally, when it gets to the latter stages, immediate attention by a veterinarian is required. We hope the suggestions made below will help you keep your pet’s teeth in good health.
How can you help prevent problems?
Many dogs and cats are susceptible to dental problems if not checked periodically. As part of your pet’s regular care, you can quickly and easily inspect the teeth for signs of tartar accumulation and also help keep them clean with regular brushing. Puppies and kittens can often be easily trained to accept regular tooth-brushing and dental care. With a little more patience, most adult pets can also be trained. When you make your next appointment, ask us how to do this at home. There are toothbrushes designed specifically for animals as well as safe toothpastes and dental rinses. An approved chew toy may also help your pet’s dental health. Small-breed dogs can greatly benefit from home dental care since dental problems occur more commonly in these animals as compared to larger breeds.
Does the type of food you use matter?
Certain pets seem prone to tartar buildup and tooth decay no matter what type of diet they eat. Common logic has it, however that dry foods would be better for preventing plaque buildup in dogs and cats, and there are diets especially formulated to reduce the accumulation of dental plaque.
Regular check-ups and cleaning can prevent health problems. Once plaque and gingivitis have formed dental scaling and polishing by a veterinarian or veterinary technician are needed. Without intervention, bacteria associated with tooth and gum disease can spread to internal body organs and cause infections of the kidneys, heart or lungs. Regular home care, combined with routine dental check-ups and teeth cleaning, is the best method of preventing dental disease.