Does your cat’s bad breath keep the two of you from snuggling? Do you wish you could give your dog a breath mint? Contrary to popular belief, “doggy breath” is not normal. In fact, it could be one of the first signs that your furry pal is developing dental disease.
What is dental disease?
- Dental disease is a painful condition that occurs when bacteria, plaque, and tartar build up on the teeth and get trapped beneath the gumline. The bacteria can be absorbed into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on other major organs throughout the body. Here are 10 facts you need to know so you can be an advocate for your pet’s oral (and overall) health:
- Dental disease begins early in life. By the age of three, most dogs and cats have some degree of dental disease. The early signs of dental disease in pets include bad breath, yellow tartar buildup on the teeth, and red and swollen gums.
- Early detection of your pet’s dental disease is vital. If left untreated, it will progress to cause chronic pain and inflammation. To detect dental disease before it negatively affects your pet’s quality of life, AAHA recommends dental evaluations as part of your pet’s regular preventive care exam, which should take place at least once a year.
- Anesthesia makes dental evaluation and treatment safer and less stressful for your pet. During your pet’s dental procedure, veterinarians and technicians use sharp, sterilized instruments. Animals don’t like to hold still while X-rays are taken and these sharp instruments are used to clean their teeth. Placing your pet under anesthesia during the procedure allows your veterinarian to make a more accurate diagnosis and decrease the chance of complications. Your pet will rest comfortably while the veterinary team safely performs a thorough and proper dental cleaning.
- Homecare is an essential part of taking care of your pet’s oral health. Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth every day will promote good oral health and prevent potentially expensive surgeries down the road. It’s easier than you think: There are even special pet toothpastes flavored like beef, chicken, fish, and peanut butter. (Note: Never use human toothpaste, which can contain ingredients like xylitol that are toxic to animals.) Also, the accumulation of plaque and tartar can be prevented by feeding your pet a special dental diet—food that’s specifically designed to help preserve oral health.
- Not all pet dental products are created equal. If you aren’t able to brush your pet’s teeth as often as you’d like, consider using other dental products designed to help maintain your pet’s oral hygiene. Be sure to look for products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). Products that aren’t approved by the VOHC, or those that are too hard to bend or break easily—like animal antlers and bones, synthetic bones, and others—can easily fracture your pet’s teeth.
These are some facts on pet dental health.