Did you know that dental disease is the most common clinical condition found in dogs and cats? Eight out of ten pets have some form of dental disease by the age of three.
Even senior cats and dogs should not have bad breath. It is reported that less than 1% of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth, and cat owners brush their cat’s teeth even less than that!
Dental disease in your pet can be easily diagnosed at their routine annual exams by your veterinarian. Disease in the mouth that is caught early, is much easier to treat and will reduce pain and discomfort in your pet later on.
Common Signs of Dental Disease:
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Repeatedly dropping food out of the mouth while eating
- Chewing only on one side of the mouth or not chewing at all
- Hesitant/resistance chewing on bones that were once well tolerated and liked
- Hesitant/resistance to playing with toys
- Decrease in appetite or not eating at all
- Acting “grumpy” or less tolerable of certain activities they once enjoyed
Forms/Types of Dental Disease:
- Plaque and tartar accumulation
- Gingivitis: inflammation of the gingiva or gums
- Periodontitis: loss of bone and soft tissue around the teeth
- Resorptive lesions: a painful erosion of the surface of the tooth
- Fractured teeth
- Stomatitis (more commonly found in cats than in dogs): Severe inflammation of all soft tissues in the mouth, such as the gums and tongue.
- Abscessed tooth root: Infection of the soft tissue inside of the tooth, called the pulp
- Oral masses/tumors
Ways to Prevent Dental Disease in Your Pets:
- Annual oral exams by your veterinarian. This should be easily accomplished at your routine yearly check-ups for your pets. Identifying problems with your pet’s dental health early on can prevent prolonged pain and suffering for your pet, as well as prevent the affected tooth/teeth from needing to eventually be extracted. Keeping your pet’s dental health up to par also keeps their heart, kidneys and liver functioning properly. The least amount of bacteria in the mouth, the better! The bacteria in the mouth from dental disease eventually gets into the blood stream and travels to all of the other organs causing build-up of bacteria in these locations as well, which can and will eventually effect the way they work!
- Brush their teeth! Introducing your puppy or kitten early on in life to the process of brushing their teeth will make it easier for the future when their adult teeth are in. For brushing to be beneficial to a pet’s dental health, the teeth should be brushed at least three to four times a week.
- Give dental treats! The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) is an organization that has tested veterinary dental products for their effectiveness. Any dental treat or chew with the VOHC seal has been tested and shown to increase dental health in pets. And what dog or cat doesn’t want a tasty treat? By giving treats that are geared towards helping your pet’s teeth, you’re not just giving them extra calories they don’t need, but your helping to prevent plaque and tartar build up. Everyone wins!
- Get routine dental cleanings and radiographs every year. Just like humans, having routine exams, cleanings and radiographs performed can help to identify any problems before they become too serious. This will increase your pet’s comfortability, happiness and quality of life. Don’t wait until there’s a problem, it might be too late!
Call us at (413) 663-5365 at any time to schedule a dental exam or cleaning for your pet.