When was the last time you had your pet’s teeth examined by a vet? While a pet’s health is important to pet parents, dental health must not be overlooked. The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) has estimated that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three. Scary right? To educate pet parents on the importance of dental health, the AVMA has declared February as National Dental Health Month.
Bad breath, loose or discarded teeth, and dental tartar are common signs of oral disease. If tartar is not taken care of, bacteria can start to cause inflammation along the gums as well as the ligaments that connect them to the teeth. This tenderness of the gums can turn into gingivitis, causing gums to become red, swollen and to bleed easily. In the last stages of gingivitis, the tissue that surrounds a tooth will eventually decay, causing the tooth to become loose, or even fall out. Not only will this cause a pet to have bad breath, but it is a very painful process for the pet to go through. Pets with developing gingivitis and periodontal diseases may also paw at their face or mouth, have excessive drool and may refuse to eat hard foods or treats. While some pet owners may think gingivitis is not a serious problem, it can cause health issues like diabetes or cardiovascular disease that can decrease a pet’s life expectancy. Bacteria in a pets mouth can also get into a pets bloodstream and move into different organs, causing infections that can potentially cause death.
Luckily, there are easy steps pet parents can take to help keep their pet’s teeth healthy. At least once a year, a pet should be taken to a veterinarian so that their teeth can be examined. If there is tartar buildup, a dental cleaning should be scheduled. During the exam, a vet will remove the tartar, take a look at the gums, examine the rest of the teeth for damage or decay and apply fluoride to strengthen the teeth. After the cleaning, pet parents can ask their vet about nutritional supplements to help keep their pet’s teeth healthy, or how to brush their pet’s teeth themselves. There is also specially formulated food that helps remove plaque and tarter from pet’s teeth, or toxin free toys that a vet can recommend.
Keeping in mind the significance of oral health, prevention has many lasting positive effects for pets. Pet owners can have many options and resources to help them keep their pet’s teeth pearly white.
-from National Association of Professional Pet Sitters