Companionship, unconditional love and security are just some of the perks of pet ownership.
People who bring pets into their homes understand that a certain commitment comes with becoming a pet owner. Pet owners recognize they need to provide food, shelter and basic healthcare for their pets, but they may not recognize the role dental health plays in helping pets be as healthy as possible.
The American Animal Hospital Association notes that dental disease can start early in a pet’s life. By the age of three, most dogs and cats will have some level of dental disease. If dental disease is left untreated, pets may suffer from inflammation, infection and even chronic pain.
The animal health and wellness site VetStreet says that more than 70 percent of cats and dogs over age four are affected by periodontal disease. Bacteria from poor dental health may spread to other organs and cause illnesses. Recognizing the signs of pet dental disease and taking steps to alleviate it can keep pets healthy.
— Acknowledge bad breath. Bad breath is not something that comes with the territory of having a pet. Odor from a dog or cat’s mouth may indicate a problem such as stomatitis, a common feline condition that causes inflammation to the oral tissues and gums.
— Start brushing pets’ teeth. Brushing a pet’s teeth can promote good oral health and potentially prevent serious problems along the way. Always use a pet-safe toothpaste, and talk to a veterinarian about a special dental diet.
— Invest in other dental products. Seek products that receive the approval of the Veterinary Oral Health Council to help maintain a pet’s oral hygiene. Avoid products like synthetic bones, antlers and other animal bones, which can fracture an animal’s teeth.
— Work with your veterinarian. Vets typically use X-rays to diagnose dental disease, as teeth may appear normal to the naked eye but still be diseased. Anesthesia is frequently used in dental evaluations and cleanings. It makes it safer and less stressful for the animal and the vet. Speak with your vet about the frequency of dental cleanings and care, asking any questions you may have about the safety and efficacy of anesthesia use.
Pet owners must prioritize their furry friends’ oral health. Though often overlooked, pets’ dental health is integral to their overall health.