It’s the most wonderful time of year! No, not Christmas, but Pet Dental Health Month! All February long, we are celebrating fresh breath, pearly white teeth, and excellent oral health in our furry friends. There’s nothing our veterinary team loves more than removing large chunks of tartar to uncover the beautiful teeth hiding beneath. We celebrate dental health all year long, but focus special attention on this important piece of your pet’s health every February. So what’s the big deal about a case of doggy breath? Read on to see why bad breath can be a sign of more serious problems in your pet.
How dental disease affects your pet
Dental disease can cause oral infections, dental pain, and tooth loss. But dental disease doesn’t just attack the mouth—it can also harm your pet’s major organs, especially the heart. Have dental issues treated at the first sign of disease to prevent:
- Heart disease
- Tooth loss
- Kidney failure
- Oral pain
- Bone loss
- Jaw fractures
- Liver disease
- Mouth abscesses
Dental disease is the most common disease to affect pets. With its ability to wreak havoc within your beloved companion’s body, halting this dangerous disease in its tracks is crucial to providing a long, healthy life for your pet.
Signs of dental disease in your pet
Pick up on early signs of dental disease before they advance to a more dangerous problem. Be on the lookout for any of these key indicators of periodontal problems:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Bad breath
- Blood in your pet’s water bowl or on toys
- Refusing to eat hard food or treats
- Chewing on one side of the mouth
- Swelling under the eyes
- Red, inflamed gums
- Broken, discolored teeth
- Yellow or brown buildup on the teeth
- Reluctance to eat
- Dropping food out of the mouth when eating
To prevent dental disease from creeping up on you and sinking its fangs into your pet’s health, pencil in weekly checkup dates with your furry friend’s mouth. Check for signs of buildup on the teeth, bleeding or inflamed gums, jagged or discolored teeth, and stinky breath. Always finish these dental dates with a reward for your pet—her favorite treat will encourage a long-term relationship with excellent oral health.
How to treat dental disease in your pet
Stay on top of dental disease with a two-part plan: veterinary treatment and at-home care. Your pet’s oral health is a team effort, requiring dedication from our veterinary team and you.
- Veterinary treatment — Dental cleanings should be performed yearly to prevent periodontal disease from setting in. If your pet is due for a cleaning, collaborate with your favorite veterinary team. We love nothing more than attacking tartar, and sending your furry friend home with a gleaming smile. During a thorough dental cleaning, we perform these dental duties:
- A complete oral evaluation and charting to check for missing or damaged teeth; lumps or bumps along the gums, tongue, or other surfaces; and periodontal pockets indicating tooth root erosion and bone loss.
- Dental X-rays to look for signs of decay, infection, and bone loss beneath the gum line.
- Scaling tooth surfaces to remove tartar accumulation—including below the gum line, where bacteria likes to lurk and cause periodontal problems.
- Polishing to remove minor imperfections on the tooth surface, which smooths the enamel to prevent plaque from sticking.
- Treating with fluoride to strengthen the enamel and make teeth less sensitive.
- Applying an oral sealant to help combat plaque and tartar accumulation.
- At-home care — You play the most vital role in your pet’s dental health care program. You have the more difficult task of creating a plan that both you and your pet are able to stick to. Include these key components in your dental health program:
- Choose food, treats, chews, toys, water additives, and a daily powder to sprinkle on each meal proven to slow plaque and tartar accumulation. Look for the seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council on products that have been proven to provide this benefit for your pet.
- Brush teeth regularly—twice daily is ideal to prevent plaque from hardening into tartar.
- Practice the four P’s of pet tooth brushing: patience, praise, perseverance, and plenty of treats.
Dedicating yourself to your pet’s dental care will allow her to enjoy the benefits of a longer, healthier, pain-free life.
Need help battling your pet’s bad breath? Schedule an oral examination now.