February is dental awareness month! Dental care is important to our overall health, but did you know the same applies to our pets?

As your dog or cat is domesticated, their natural source of teeth cleaning has been removed from their diet. Dry and canned pet food cannot provide the same level of oral hygeine as if they were “in the wild” eating prey. Your pet’s gums and teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian to keep their mouth healthy and to check for early signs of an oral problem.

Other than having your pet’s teeth checked at the vet once a year, it’s important to maintain oral hygiene at home. Frequent removal of plaque and tartar on the teeth helps to prevent the most common oral disease in pets. The most effective action you can take is brushing your pet’s teeth regularly. Most dogs don’t have an issue with having their teeth brushed, but cats are more resistant. You’ll have to be patient, and use training if necessary.

Reasons You Should Take Care Of Your Pet’s Dental Health
  • Tartar on your pet’s teeth grows into bacteria which can cause damage such as tooth loss, oral pain, bad breath and peridontal disease. Peridontal disease can actually lead to problems with your pet’s organs, including the heart and kidneys.
  • Better breath
  • Before a dog’s adult teeth grow in, their baby teeth have to fall out. Sometimes, not all of the baby teeth want to come out. This can lead to gum irritation and tartar buildup, making the process of losing the baby teeth rather painful.  In order to help ensure better health throughout every stage of your dog’s life, you need to start taking care of their teeth while they’re a puppy.
  • Caring for your pet’s teeth can prevent other health problems, saving you a ton of money in the long run. If an oral health concern arises, that could mean a professional cleaning, tooth removal, x-rays, or medications. Possibly anesthesia and antibiotics as well. It’s much easier and more cost-effective to maintain oral care for your pet at home in order to prevent these costs and health problems.
  • As dogs and cats are very good at hiding pain, you may not be aware that your pet has a serious dental problem until it’s advanced.
  • We brush our teeth on a regular basis and need routine dental care, why would it be any different for our pets?
Symptoms of Dental Disease
  • Bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Teeth that are covered in tartar or discolored
  • Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
  • Abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Gums may be red, swollen, and even bleed
  • Inactivity, lethargy or depression
  • Poor grooming
  • Pawing at the face
  • Facial swelling
  • Discharge from the nose or eyes

If you notice any of these symptoms, take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. Prevention is key to keeping dental problems at bay. If you brush your pet’s teeth regularly and have their mouth checked at the vet yearly, you are taking the right steps!