7 Things to Know About Pet Dental Health
7 Things to Know About Your Pet’s Dental Health
Dental health encompasses much more than fresh breath or white teeth. An unhealthy mouth can lead to severe health problems that can impact your pet’s lifespan and quality of life. If you feel confident that your pet has a healthy smile, test your knowledge with this dental health quiz from the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA).
No matter how well you score on the quiz, take time to make sure Fluffy and Fido maintain good dental hygiene throughout their lifetimes. Here are seven things to know about your pet’s dental health.
- Did you know that adult humans have 32 teeth (or 28 without wisdom teeth)? You likely see your dentist twice a year for cleanings and checkups, but what about your dog or cat? Adult cats have 30 teeth and adult dogs have 42 teeth that also require regular care and cleaning.
- The AVMA reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats have some type of periodontal disease by age three. Disease can be present even if you can’t see it. Left untreated, dental disease can lead to other health problems.
- While rare, dogs and cats can get cavities. More typically, dogs or cats develop abscessed or broken teeth that require removal. Cats may develop painful feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs). Common signs can include excessive salivation, bleeding from teeth or the gum line and difficulty eating, especially hard or dry food.
- There are four stages of gum or periodontal disease in dogs and cats. While there are some visual symptoms, only X-rays and a thorough examination by a veterinary professional can conclusively diagnose the extent of damage. Early signs and symptoms include bad breath, red or swollen gums, yellow or brown teeth, loose or missing teeth, difficulty chewing, decreased eating or weight loss.
- Periodontal disease can cause more than oral problems in your pet. Advanced disease in the upper teeth can weaken or damage bone between the nasal and oral cavities, leading to sneezing or nasal discharge. Jaw fracture can occur in smaller dogs or cats due to untreated inflammation. Severe and untreated gum disease can lead to organ disease and organ failure due to bacteria building up and circulating through the blood stream. Damage can include heart disease and endocarditis, increase in insulin resistance, kidney dysfunction and liver damage.
- Early periodontal disease can be prevented or possibly reversed with veterinary intervention. The only way to truly diagnose and treat disease is with regularly scheduled dental screenings. Beyond a physical inspection, however, proper dental care includes radiographs (X-rays) to examine the jaw, bone and tooth roots below the gumline, where most disease occurs. Dental cleaning does require anesthesia to scale (remove plaque and tartar) and polish the teeth.
- Home care is equally important to keep your pet’s mouth healthy in between veterinary visits and annual cleanings. Here are some things to do in between visits with your veterinarian.
- Brush your dog’s teeth! The AVMA recommends daily brushing or a minimum of three times per week.
- If you are brave enough to attempt to brush your cat’s teeth, you are ahead of the game! Tartar reducing treats or oral antimicrobial rinses a few times per week can help in between annual veterinary cleanings.
- Talk to your veterinarian about treats or chew toys they recommend for dental care.
- Feed your pet food formulated to address dental disease.
Covetrus North America is dedicated to the health of animals. Visit us online or contact your Covetrus representative at 855.724.3461.
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