Who’s that with the million-dollar smile? Your pet? Without proper dental care, your furry friend’s pearly whites may not be so pearly white — and breath, whew! Bad breath is often a sign of much more than a stolen garlic knot off the dinner table.
Not to worry you, but pets get periodontal disease just like people. Difference is that they cannot tell us when they have a toothache. Periodontal disease can make eating painful and can increase your pet’s chances of developing diabetes, or kidney, liver or heart disease.
According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), after they reach age 3, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will manifest some form of dental disease.
Little dogs are even more likely to develop the disease. In cats, gingivitis (uncomfortable inflammation of the gums) is common.
Neglecting your pet’s teeth and gums can even cause pain issues that may lead to behavioral problems.
We are told to brush our pet’s teeth. How many of us honestly do that? Those of us with multiple pets could spend an hour a day just brushing dog and cat teeth. If you decide to brush your pet’s teeth, here’s a couple of pointers.
Buy your pet their own toothpaste – Some ingredients in human toothpaste can be toxic to pets. Pet toothpaste comes in chicken flavor, beef flavor, seafood flavor, etc. Sounds awful to us, but appealing to them.
Place a bit of pet toothpaste on the tip of your finger and let your cat or dog sniff or lick it. Then rub your pet’s teeth and gums. After a few days, once they get comfortable with your finger, switch to a finger brush or pet toothbrush.
Offer a special treat when you’re done as a reward. Your pet will associate the reward with the tooth brushing and may be more cooperative next time. Give yourself a treat, too, for being a good and patient pet parent.
There are specific treats and foods that are formulated to prevent plaque and tartar build-up. So if brushing is out of the question, look into those for your pet.
Of course, just like us, if we never saw the dentist, our pets’ teeth may need more than what we can do with brushing and dental treats. During your pet’s regular exam, the veterinarian will look for loose or broken teeth, swollen or receding gums, bleeding, bad breath or signs of discomfort.
Thorough dental cleanings are performed under anesthesia. Blood tests are recommended before cleanings to ensure that your pet is in good health prior to the procedure. Sometimes it’s as simple as a basic cleaning to eliminate tartar and plaque. Sometimes several teeth need to be pulled. Either way, our pets bounce back much faster than most of us after a trip to the dentist.
Talk to your veterinarian about your pet’s dental health. If you do not have a regular veterinarian, schedule a visit with our Dr. Carlos Aguiar. Our staff can guide you as to whether your pet needs a dental cleaning.
If you want to look into a dental, our basic exams are $34.95. Dentals starts as low as $150. During February all dentals are 15% off. If you have more than one pet, your second pet can get a dental for 50% off.
Sit, Shake, SMILE!
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: FLAGLER HUMANE SOCIETY February is Pet Dental Health Month