There's an unfortunate trend we see in veterinary care: most pet families know the importance of wellness visits and keeping vaccines up to date, but, too often, their cat or dog's dental health is overlooked. February is National Pet Dental Health Month and it's a good time to discuss keeping your friend's teeth healthy all year round.
As science continues to advance, our understanding of pet health has also made great strides and we now know how dental health impacts all aspects of a pet's well-being. With the right combination of dental care at home, good nutrition, professional dental cleanings and exams, the Brook Farm team can keep your pet healthy, pain free, and even extend his or her life.
The root of the problem
According to American Veterinary Medical Association, periodontal disease, caused by plaque and tartar buildup, is the most common dental problem in pets with 80% of dogs and 75% of cats showing signs of the disease by age 3. Aside from causing pain in your friend's mouth, and possibly even tooth loss, untreated periodontal disease will cause problems throughout the whole body. Bacteria from infected gums enter the bloodstream and can cause septicemia, organ failure, and lung and kidney disease.
Each comprehensive wellness visit with Dr. Clark or Dr. Kanouse includes a visual inspection of your friend's teeth. Some of the things we look for:
- Foul breath
- Excessive drooling
- Worn, broken, or discolored teeth
- Swollen jaws or mouth
- Red or inflamed gums
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Pawing at the mouth
- Loss of appetite
This quick assessment tells us if your cat or dog needs further help. If caught early, dental disease can be treated and many health problems prevented. It's important to call us right away if you suspect something wrong with your beloved pet's teeth.
It all starts with you
If you're intimidated by the idea of brushing your pet's teeth, we're here to help. It does take some practice to get into the habit but making daily brushing part of his or her routine is the best way to keep those teeth healthy.
Ask your Brook Farm vet to show you how to get started with home dental care. They will be happy to walk you through it and recommend a brush and toothpaste best suited for your furbaby (never use human toothpaste as it contains ingredients that are toxic to pets). Some other ways to prevent dental disease for your cat or dog:
- If your pet allows it, make a point to check his or her mouth once a week. Lift your pet’s lips and inspect the inside of his or her mouth for any problems or abnormalities. Never force your pet to comply or discipline them if they refuse; call your Brook Farm family and let us help.
- Diet matters! Good quality dry food can help scrape plague off teeth. Dr. Clark or Dr. Kanouse may recommend a prescription “dental” food in certain cases.
- Certain chew toys can stimulate cleaning teeth and gums. Be sure to check with your vet about what type of toy is best suited for your special friend. Hard surfaced toys can break teeth!
An ounce of prevention
At each wellness visit, your Brook Farm vet will carefully examine your pet’s teeth and gums and make recommendations as to follow-up professional dental care. Many pets need nothing more than regular care at home and an annual cleaning!
Your pet's dental health is extremely important to us, which is why we provide top quality, comprehensive dental care under anesthesia. Under sedation, your pet’s teeth are thoroughly cleaned and examined and radiographed, then properly cleaned, eliminating any fear and distress. With an eye of compassion and comfort, our medical team is able to offer many services to keep teeth healthy and strong.
- Radiography to determine if there are problems below the gum line
- Tooth scaling and polishing
- Tooth extraction
- Fluoride treatment
- Bonding and sealing
- Root canal surgery
- Oral mass removal
Please give us a call any time with your questions or concerns regarding you friend's dental care or to make an appointment for free dental consultation. We love to see you both smiling!