Clean Teeth…Healthy Pet!
What You Should Know About Pet Dental Health
Most people don’t think twice about daily brushing and regular dental checkups for themselves. Over the years we’ve learned the importance of these actions and the impact on our overall health. However, when it comes to our pet’s dental care, most parents are not aware of the dangers their pet faces without regular dental care and cleaning.
Consider the following information from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA)
- Most dental disease in pets occurs below the gum line, where you can't see it.
- 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease by the age of 3.
- While the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs is periodontal disease, it is completely preventable.
The most common sign that your pet may be experiencing periodontal disease often starts with bad breath. Here are some common signs of gum disease that can lead to advanced periodontal disease if the condition is left untreated.
- Bleeding or red gums (or signs of blood on chew toys or in food and water bowls)
- Signs of irritation in the mouth
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty eating
- Excessive drooling
- Loose teeth or, at advanced stages, teeth falling out
- Bad breath
How Does It Start?
Gum disease can lead to advanced periodontal disease as a result of a buildup of bacteria and food, which ultimately becomes plaque. If a pet’s teeth are not cleaned or brushed regularly, the plaque buildup hardens, leaving the pet’s immune system to fight the bacterial buildup, leading to inflammation. Eventually, if left untreated, this condition worsens and the gums pull away from the teeth, leaving pockets where bacteria can grow. As teeth loosen, pets can experience tissue and bone deterioration. These are painful conditions that can lead to liver and kidney disease, common illnesses in pets with poor dental health, because these organs filter toxins from the blood. Your pet can suffer fatal kidney, liver, or heart failure as a result of these toxins, which can also affect the brain's cognitive abilities.
Some pets are at a higher risk of developing periodontal disease along with the related health conditions it can create. Pets at higher risk are usually older dogs and cats with compromised immune systems. Fighting off bacterial infection typically provides greater challenge for them.
Preventive Steps You Can Take
Helping your pet avoid the pain and damaging effects of advanced periodontal disease begins with regular clinic exams and annual cleanings. For older dogs, dental cleanings are recommended twice a year. In between these visits and dental procedures, regular brushing and healthy chew toys are recommended.
Dental cleaning for a cat or dog has become a routine procedure. Your pet is given general anesthesia to help them remain still while they have their teeth cleaned. This is for their safety and comfort. All pets are closely monitored every step of the way by our doctors and staff, ensuring the full recovery of our furry friends.
For more information on dental cleaning for your pet, call us at
205.967.7383. While February is National Pet Dental Health Month, dental health should be a regular practice for pet parents all year long.
A Passion for Pets
Julie Grimes, DVM