How often do you brush your teeth? Answer honestly! Don’t worry, this isn’t a guilt trip to get you to the dentist. Speaking of dentists, though, how often do you go in for a checkup? Once or twice a year? Last question. How much did it hurt the last time you had a cavity?
Our pets’ mouths are no different from our own! …Well, okay, they’re a little more slobbery. However, we humans brush our teeth on a daily basis to avoid periodontal disease and general mouth discomfort (no one likes the fuzzy feeling of plaque on their teeth), so should we be doing the same for our pets? Of course!
Common Pet Dental Issues
Pets are susceptible to the same types of dental issues as humans. Pets teeth get plaque, calculus and infection. But, would you believe that 80% of dogs and cats have some sort of inflammation either around their gums, roots, or even bones in the mouth? This is because we many owners do not give them the same level of dental care that we give ourselves.
Dental disease in pets (and humans) can lead not only to pain and tooth loss, but the bacteria can also spread through the body to damage organs and shorten your pet’s life. Bacteria can form plaque on teeth in just a few days. Imagine all that plaque forming in the bloodstream and vital organs.
This is why keeping your pet’s teeth clean is so vital. While there are several things you can do to prevent dental disease, your pet should still have a dental checkup and cleaning by a veterinarian once or twice a year—just like humans do!
There are a lot of ways to help keep your pet’s mouths clean and avoid expensive dental surgery bills. You might already use some of them, like teeth cleaning toys, dental chews, rinses, and oil sprays. While these things definitely help reduce the risk for plaque buildup and disease, they are not as effective as a thorough brushing.
Despite brushing regularly, humans still see the dentist once or twice a year for checkups and cleaning. The same should be done for our pets—especially since we are less likely to brush our pet’s teeth every single day like we do our own.
Professional Dental Cleaning
You are probably thinking right now, “Fido and Fluffy can’t even sit still long enough for an Instagram photo, how are they going to sit through a whole dental exam?”
It’s true that many pets get stressed out at the vet. Luckily, there are generally two ways that dental cleaning can be done—anesthetic and non-anesthetic. Non-anesthetic dental visits are great if your pet is calm enough for it. If not, don’t worry. General anesthesia is perfectly safe for pets when done correctly by a professional. If your pet needs dental x-rays or deep cleaning, an anesthetic visit may be necessary, anyway.
Regardless of what type of visit you do, make sure it is with professionals and supervised by a qualified veterinarian, even if it’s a simple cleaning.
When Does Your Pet Need Dental Attention?
Sometimes, waiting for the next annual exam is not enough for our pets because they need dental attention now. It can be hard to tell when your pet is experiencing tooth problems, though. They do give you a few clues, though. You may notice them not tugging as hard on their toys, avoiding hard, dry foods, or rubbing their faces a lot. These are all signs that your furry friend might be experiencing dental discomfort.
If you are ever in doubt about your pet’s dental health, don’t wait until their next regular checkup. Book an appointment at Hunt Valley Animal Hospital and we’ll be glad to give your pets the dental treatment they need. Regular dental cleanings are a huge step in preventing more serious (and expensive) medical procedures down the road.