Good Dental Hygiene Helps Keep Pets Healthy

Yellow teeth and bad breath can be a sign of serious disease in pets.

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Oral disease, which may affect their kidneys, liver, and heart, is the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets, with most dogs and cats becoming affected by age 3. 

Prevention of this most common oral diseases in pets is done through regular cleaning to remove the dental plaque and tartar that forms on teeth. Brushing your pet’s teeth regularly will help to keep their teeth healthy between dental cleanings. As part of the overall wellness care for your pet, dental cleaning by your veterinarian at least once a year insures a thorough evaluation of the tooth roots below the gumline. In addition, any necessary adjustment, filing, extraction, or repair of your pet’s teeth and other aspects of oral health care will be evaluated and reviewed. An oral exam of your pet’s mouth may require X-Rays.

Because most dental disease occurs below the gumline, a thorough dental cleaning and evaluation will be performed under anesthesia. The process is similar to that used during your own dental cleaning when dental plaque and tartar is removed and the teeth are polished. 

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association,  Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats — by the time your pet is 3 years old, he or she will very likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if effective preventive measures aren’t taken. Early detection and treatment are critical, because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet.

Here are the primary signs of oral disease:

  • bad breath
  • broken or loose teeth
  • extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
  • abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • reduced appetite or refusal to eat
  • pain in or around the mouth
  • bleeding from the mouth
  • swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

Pets can become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Always be careful when evaluating your pet’s mouth, because an animal in pain may bite.

Be careful about products marketed to improve dental health. Not all of them are effective. The staff at Back on Track will be happy to talk with you about products, treats, or diets you are considering.