Oral Hygiene and Veterinary Dental Care
Oral hygiene is just as important for animals as it for humans. Unfortunately, it is estimated that approximately two-thirds of American pet owners don't even consider dental care as part of their pets' medical needs. Not surprisingly, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop oral disease, such as gingivitis or periodontal disease. Oral disease can lead to a number of serious health conditions and diseases that affect the kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, and other vital organs.
To ensure your pet does not develop gingivitis or periodontal disease, it's best to implement a regular dental care routine from a young age. The sooner you acquaint your pet with periodic brushing and oral care, the easier it will be as they get older. Anyone who has tried to brush the teeth of an older dog or cat for the first time can tell you it's not easy.
How You Can Help
There are several things you can do to ensure your pet's teeth and gums stay healthy. Part of your pet's regular care routine should include:
- Brushing your pet's teeth regularly to prevent plaque from forming that can cause gingivitis. Keep these sessions short, be gentle, and offer your pet plenty of praise.
- Using toothpaste specifically designed for pets. Using human toothpaste on your pet can cause an upset stomach. You can find toothpaste for dogs and cats at your local pet store or at your veterinarian's office. Be sure to ask the pet store clerk for help when picking out a toothbrush.
- Giving your pet healthy food and treats. Some brands of pet food are designed to help fight tarter and plaque build-up. There are also special treats you can buy, such as bones or biscuits, which help prevent tartar build-up along the gum line.
Bad breath, yellow teeth, and black or brown buildup along the gum line are signs your pet may be suffering from gingivitis or another oral disease, and should be seen by a veterinarian right away. A veterinarian will be able to perform a more thorough cleaning of your pet's teeth and gums to remove plaque or tartar buildup that could be causing inflammation, pain, or discomfort when chewing. A veterinarian can also take X-rays of your pet's teeth, perform oral surgery and administer anesthesia to perform a deep cleaning when necessary.
If you are interested in learning more about oral care for your pet, your veterinarian should be able to answer your questions and provide you with the information you are looking for. Making it a habit to care for your pet's teeth will assure good dental health and prevent serious dental and medical problems in the future.
For help with animal dentistry and your pet's other needs, find a veterinarian in your area.