Maintaining Healthy Teeth for your Pet
Maintaining Healthy Teeth for your Pet
All pet owners know they will have to visit a veterinarian at some point, but you’ll never guess the most widespread health concern among all house pets. Believe it or not, the most common disorder among dogs and cats in 2010 was none other than dental tartar. In fact, according to the State of Pet Health 2011 Report, dental tartar affects 78 percent of dogs and 68 percent of cats. Dental tartar in itself is just one of multiple manifestations of dental disease.
Dental Tartar Origins
When raising a house pet, one of the first things an owner should know is what kind of food the pet should eat. Some owners may underestimate the effects of unhealthy foods on a pet’s teeth, explaining why the disease is such an unacknowledged problem, despite its prevalence. The lack of mainstream teeth-cleaners on the market for pets contributes to this growing problem, and it shows. Most average pet-owners aren’t aware how to go about brushing their pet’s teeth, relying on outside assistance to complete the task. Veterinarians have the technology to clean pet teeth, but may require anesthesia, which requires more money in addition to a higher degree of trust by the owner. Plaque accumulates when food particles and bacteria stick around the pet’s gumline. After a few days without cleaning, the plaque combines with saliva to form tartar. The formation of tartar irritates the gums, leading to gingivitis, which is an early stage of periodontal(gum) disease.
Dental Disease Symptoms
Dental disease affects can spread beyond your pet’s teeth, so don’t assume that your cat’s bad breath is the only problem you will have to address at the veterinarian’soffice. Like humans, excess plaque can cause problems throughout the body if it is not treated effectively and appropriately. Primary symptoms, in addition to the aforementioned bad breath, include:
- Drooling and foul saliva
- Difficulty in chewing
- Pain anywhere around mouth area
- Limited appetite
- Tooth loss
- Discolored/broken/fractured teeth
Swelling below the eyes Most of these symptoms aren’t visible until the pet is already feeling pain, so treatment can be quite difficult beyond that threshold
Dental Disease Prevention
The lifestyle of a pet depends heavily on what is part of its daily eating regiment. In the case of a dog, hard kibbles are better for pet dental health than soft due to the natural cleansing that fights off plaque buildup. The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) also has a set of Dental Care Guidelinesthat are recommended to owners of young cats and dogs alike. This includes the testing of the pet’s vital signs under anesthesia, dental radiographs (x-rays), and scaling and polishing. These steps are the pet equivalent to a human’s trip to the dentist.
Just like us, our canine and feline friends need to have their teeth cleaned on a regular basis, usually around three times a week. This is where you, the owner, come into play. The brushing process is one which can be an uncomfortable nuisance if not done properly, which is why it is important to follow these steps. - Dip a finger into water or broth and gently rub your dog/cat’s teeth and gums. - Once the pet feels comfortable, use a toothbrush to brush the teeth’s surface in an oval motion. Make sure to use a soft veterinary toothpaste, and not human toothpaste. - Examine for swollen gums, tartar stains, or damaged teeth. To clean the inside surface of your dog’s teeth, place your hand over its muzzle from the top. Then gently push its lips on one side between the back teeth, before brushing the teeth on the oppositeside of its mouth. When brushing a cat’s teeth, it is best to gently rub along the gum line inside the lip with one hand while holding the head steady with the other.
Now that you are enlightened with this advice, you have the all the info you need to take care of your puppy or kitty during the summer.