Why Pet Dental Health Should be a Priority

Pawsitively Perfect Teeth: Why Pet Dental Health Should be a Priority

As devoted pet owners, we go above and beyond to ensure the well-being of our furry companions. From top-notch nutrition to daily walks and loads of affection, we strive to give them the best. Yet, a crucial aspect often slips through the cracks – the essential world of pet dental health.

Let's dive into the realm of Pawsitively Perfect Teeth and discover why prioritizing your pet's dental well-being is crucial to your pet's health and can be a joyous time of bonding more with your pet. 

Understanding Dental Issues in Dogs

Dogs, our lovable pals, might not be prone to cavities like humans, but they have unique dental challenges. Dogs can suffer from a variety of other dental issues. Some common dental problems in dogs include:

  • Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums is a common early sign of dental issues caused by the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth.
  • Periodontal Disease: This disease is an advanced stage of gingivitis in which inflammation extends to the supporting structures of the teeth. It can lead to tooth loss and affect overall health. According to the NIH, “Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases affecting dogs, with a reported prevalence of at least 80% in dogs over three years of age.”
  • Plaque and Tartar Buildup: If not removed, plaque (a sticky film of bacteria) can harden into tartar, leading to various dental issues.
  • Broken or Fractured Teeth: Dogs may break or fracture their teeth, especially if they chew on hard objects.
  • Oral Tumors: While relatively rare, tumors can develop in the mouth, affecting dental health.

Understanding Dental Problems in Cats

Our feline friends, with their elegant demeanor, as they waltz through our world, can also experience dental problems if we neglect their oral hygiene. Studies report that up to 90% of cats older than four suffer from some form of dental disease. The good news is that many of these diseases are largely preventable or treatable with appropriate preventive dental care and monitoring. Common dental issues in cats include:

  • Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums is a common issue, often caused by plaque accumulation and tartar on the teeth. If left untreated, gingivitis can progress to more severe dental problems. Gingivitis is reversible with proper care.
  • Juvenile Gingivitis: This is a condition where young cats get a massive inflammatory response to adult teeth eruption. It typically starts between 3 and 4 months of age and can be quite painful and affect young cats’ ability to eat.
  • Periodontal Disease: This disease is an advanced stage of gingivitis in which inflammation extends to the supporting structures of the teeth. It can lead to tooth loss and affect the cat's overall health.
  • Stomatitis: Stomatitis is a severe and painful inflammation of the oral cavity, including the gums, tongue, and back of the throat. Stomatitis can significantly impact a cat's ability to eat and groom itself.
  • Tooth Resorption: Also known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL), The cat’s body begins breaking down and absorbing the structures that form the tooth. It often starts in the enamel along the gum line and continues towards the center of the tooth. Eventually, the tooth will be almost entirely gone. It is a painful condition that can affect multiple teeth.
  • Broken or Fractured Teeth: Cats may experience broken or fractured teeth, especially if they chew on hard objects or trauma occurs.
  • Oral Tumors: While less common, tumors can develop in the mouth, affecting dental health. The most common is squamous cell carcinoma. 

Dental Problems to Watch

Pets are masters at concealing their discomfort, making it vital for us to be keen observers. Being proactive can make all the difference in your pet's dental well-being.

Common signs that indicate your pet may be experiencing dental issues:

  • Bad breath: Persistent bad breath, often described as "fishy" or "rotten," can indicate dental problems in pets.
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums: Inflamed or bleeding gums may indicate gum disease or other dental issues.
  • Difficulty eating or chewing: If your pet is having trouble eating or chewing, it may be due to tooth pain or discomfort caused by dental problems.
  • Pawing at the mouth: Pets experiencing dental pain may paw at their mouth to alleviate the discomfort.
  • Drooling excessively: Excessive drooling can be a sign of dental issues, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as bad breath or difficulty eating.
  • Changes in behavior: Dental pain can cause changes in your pet's behavior, including irritability, aggression, or reluctance when you touch around the head and mouth.

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please contact us so we can examine its teeth. Early detection and treatment can prevent further complications and maintain your pet's dental health.

A Symphony of Prevention: Key Practices for Pet Dental Health

Let's turn our attention to the upbeat practices that make pet dental care a joyous ritual:

Daily Brushing: A daily rendezvous with pet toothpaste and a suitable brush size can turn into a delightful bonding experience.

Dental Delights: Treat your pet to dental chews, treats, or toys – a playful way to combat plaque and tartar.

Healthy Habits: Say no to human food or sugary snacks; opt for a balanced diet that contributes to optimal oral health.

Innovative Solutions: Explore options like Teef water additive and Perio Support Pro powder for a tailored dental care routine.

Preventing dental problems in pets is key to ensuring their long-term oral health. In our blog, Professional and At Home Teeth Cleaning, we cover in detail how to clean your pet’s teeth at home. But here are highlights to keep in mind:

  • Brush your pet's teeth once daily with pet toothpaste and an appropriate brush size for their breed or size. (Never use human toothpaste for your pet).
  • Supplement brushing with dental chews like OraVet®, or chew toys designed to help remove plaque and tartar.
  • Avoid feeding your pets human food or snacks, especially foods high in sugar, which can contribute to poor oral hygiene.
  • If your pet doesn't tolerate teeth brushing or dental chews, you can still use a drinking water additive to help control bacteria and plaque. 
  • You can also use food additives to help control bacteria. These are powders that you sprinkle onto your pet’s daily food. Our favorite is Perio Support Pro. 
  • Lastly, make sure to schedule regular dental checkups with our office!

We offer pet dental products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, chews, and water additives. Visit our online pharmacy.

If You are New to Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth

If you're new brushing your pet’s teeth, no worries! We have found many pet parents don’t brush their pet’s teeth because they don’t know how, or they have busy schedules. But here’s some great news – the American Veterinary Medical Association put together a simple, yet informative video on how to get started. Watch their short video to learn how simple it is, and that it doesn’t take much time at all! And hey, we all have to start somewhere. Your effort will truly make your pet’s tail wag or whiskers twitch with joy! Just click on the picture below to watch.

Professional Dental Cleanings for Pets

While home care sets the stage, professional dental cleaning takes the spotlight. Only professional veterinary dental cleaning can remove tartar built up on your pet's teeth.

Please click on the picture below to watch this simple but informative video from the AVMA.. They will fill you in on what you need to know about veterinarian dental cleanings.

Conclusion: Investing in Pet Dental Health for a Happier, Healthier Pet

Remember, regular brushing, dental treats, and checkups with one of our veterinarians are crucial to maintaining your pet's dental health. Don't wait for dental troubles to knock on your door. Start today, armed with preventive measures, regular vet checkups, and a commitment to your pet's dental health. With your dedication and the support from our team at Advanced Veterinary Clinic in Cedar Falls, Iowa, your pet can flaunt pawsitively perfect teeth and a lifetime of happy barks and meows.

Warm regards,

Dr. Stevenson & Team

Advanced Pet Care Clinic