Pet Dental Problems: Common and Preventable
Pets aren’t always known for having the freshest breath. While every pet can occasionally get bad breath, it isn’t normally a cause for concern. Particularly bad breath, however, should never be ignored. It can often be a symptom of other issues, like halitosis, or a sign of periodontal (gum) disease, which is the most common health problem in cats and dogs. In fact, without regular upkeep of their oral health, many dogs and cats will develop periodontal disease by the age of three. Not only can this cause pain for your pets, it can also lead to serious, life-threatening complications down the line.
Luckily, the causes, symptoms, and treatments of periodontal disease in pets are well understood. With a few simple habits to maintain your pet’s oral health, you can save on both discomfort and dental care bills.
How Periodontal Disease Develops
The bacteria in a pet’s mouth usually maintains a certain balance to remain healthy. But sometimes new bacteria can be introduced into your pet’s mouth – through eating, sickness, or other dental issues – and disturb that balance. Leaving any of the following conditions untreated can begin a cycle that leads to gum disease:
Through daily eating, drinking, grooming, and bacterial growth, a clear-colored film called plaque forms on the teeth.
If left to build up, plaque hardens into a yellow or brown substance called tartar.
Tartar can irritate the surrounding gums, making them tender, red, and swollen. This allows bacteria to thrive, progressing the disease further.
Advanced Periodontal Disease
The gums eventually pull away from the teeth and bleed. This creates pockets that trap food and allow for even more bacteria to settle in. The roots of the teeth can become exposed, teeth can come loose, and your pet may experience pain that keeps them from eating, drinking, grooming, or resting comfortably.
Other Health Complications
If the gums are bleeding, it means there is an opportunity for oral bacteria to enter the bloodstream and potentially threaten your pet’s heart, liver, lungs, or kidneys.
Contact us about scheduling a dental cleaning.
It’s crucial to keep an eye on your pet’s oral health so that you’re able to recognize the symptoms of periodontal disease, which include:
- Bad breath
- Sensitivity around the mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Yellow or brown deposits on the teeth
- Bleeding, inflamed, and withdrawn gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Pawing at the mouth or face
- Difficulty chewing
If you suspect that your pet has developed periodontal disease or any other issue, bring them to your veterinarian as soon as possible for assessment.
Prevention and Treatment
Cleaning your pet’s mouth and brushing their teeth should be a regular aspect of their care. Ideally, their teeth should be brushed once a day. That isn’t always easy to accomplish, especially if your cat or dog has trouble staying still, but it is possible, and any brushing is better than none at all. To help make brushing less stressful for you and your pet, consult our tips on brushing for dogs and for cats.
Oral Health Products for Pets
Some foods, treats, and toys are designed specifically to reduce plaque in pets. Additionally, feeding pets dry food gives oral bacteria less opportunity to grow and is a smart choice for promoting dental health.
Products that meet the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s standards for plaque and tartar control are labeled with their Seal of Acceptance. Your veterinarian can offer advice when choosing dental products for your dog or cat.
Even with daily brushing and other healthy habits, you can’t take care of your pet’s oral health all on your own. Annual dental checkups are essential to making sure your pet’s mouth stays healthy. Your veterinarian may recommend routine tooth cleaning, or dental prophylaxis, for your pet.
Don’t risk your pet’s comfort or health. If you suspect that your dog or cat has periodontal disease or another dental problem, don’t hesitate to bring them to Noah’s Ark so that the issue can be assessed and treated. Contact us today to set up your next visit.