If you’re like most pet owners, brushing your teeth is part of your daily routine, but you may forget that it’s also important to take care of your pet’s teeth.
That’s why periodontal disease is the most common problem that veterinarians see in dogs and cats, even though it’s totally preventable.
Periodontal disease is a fancy term for “gum disease” and it can refer to a range of problems from gum inflammation to major damage to the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth.
Not only could your pet lose these teeth, but bacteria and infection in the mouth can spread through the bloodstream to cause heart, kidney or liver disease. These diseases can cause serious damage to the organs and lead to premature death.
Unfortunately, most pet owners don’t know this, and, by the age three, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some evidence of periodontal disease.
Since you’re reading this article, you can help change these statistics!
Just like humans, dogs and cats need regular dental care.
We recommend practicing good pet dental hygiene at home and providing your pet with regular dental cleanings by your veterinarian.
At home, you can brush your pet’s teeth with pet toothpaste on gauze or a small pet-sized toothbrush. It’s important to use toothpaste that is specifically marketed and made for pets; while humans know to spit out their toothpaste, pets do not. So, they need toothpaste that isn’t going to be harmful for them to digest. Avoid fluoridated products and pastes that list sugars or sugar substitutes as one of the top ingredients. The best pet toothpastes contain enzymes that dissolve material on the teeth, such as glucose oxidase and lactoperoxidase.
Brushing or even wiping the teeth with gauze will be a learning experience for both you and your pet so be patient, start slowly, and go from there.
If brushing your pet’s teeth is too challenging, another option is to try pet oral hygiene solutions that can be added to your pets’ drinking water. You may also try giving your pet healthy dental treats that help remove tarter. Make sure that the treats you buy don’t contain sugars or dyes.
Pay special attention to your pet if they show the following symptoms: bad breath, broken or loose teeth, teeth that are discolored, abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth, reduced appetite or refusal to eat, pain in or around the mouth, bleeding from the mouth, and swelling.
Your pet should have a routine veterinarian examination, including teeth and gums at least once a year.
This can actually save you money, too, since the average cost to prevent dental disease in pets is $171.82, but it costs $531.71 to treat dental disease (according to a 2013 analysis conducted by VPI Pet Insurance).
Most importantly, proper dental care can increase your pet’s life by one to five years.
This is just one step that you can take to extend your pet’s life. As you can see, in this case, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”
Unfortunately, far too often, pet owners come to us for help when it’s already too late.
That’s why we’ve put together The Senior Pet Resource Guide with award-winning veterinarian, Dr. Gary Richter!
If you have a dog or cat over 7 years of age, definitely take a moment to check this out!