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The importance of regular dental care for dogs and cats

Posted by SusanStokes on February 8, 2017

Many pet owners overlook the importance of pet dental care either because they don’t know the facts or understand the warning signs of poor oral health. Without regular oral care, pets are at risk for gum infections, gingivitis, swollen gums, tooth infections, periodontics, and halitosis. To help insure optimal dental health, pet owners can learn what to look for in their pet’s mouth. They can be taught to clean their pet's teeth using pet toothpaste (not human toothpaste) and a pet toothbrush. Oral examinations should be a part of every veterinary exam, since veterinarians can detect and treat diseases early including mouth tumors, cysts, and gum diseases.

The common signs that a pet may be experiencing a pet dental disease include extreme bad breath, eroded tarter that may start to turn black, and the pet may begin to experience loss of appetite. Eighty percent of dogs and cats past the age of four have some type of pet dental disease.

Veterinarians at the Balboa Veterinary Hospital in San Diego say that most pet owners do not realize that these dental diseases, such as periodontal disease, affect more than just the mouth. Bacteria that breed in the mouth can also spread to other vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. The veterinary hospital warns pet owners if proper oral care is not practiced, pets can lose teeth due to the disease or may need extractions of infected teeth.

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They recommend that along with daily teeth brushing for both cats and dogs, annual dental care visits to a veterinarian is vital. Regular tooth brushing goes a long way toward keeping pets healthy, and dental care can easily be performed at home in a few minutes.

"I recommend that pet owners brush their pet's teeth daily to remove tartar that can cause swollen gums and gingivitis," says Dr. Miranda Alexander, Balboa Veterinary Hospital.

The hospital encourages pet owners to make it a routine to brush your pet's teeth at least once a day. Most pets can get used to the idea of having their teeth brushed and may come to see the routine as a bonding experience.

"Chew toys also play a role in dog oral health," added Dr. Alexander. "As pets chew, they scrape tartar off their teeth.”

The hospital cautions pet owners to never leave pets alone with rawhide chews, as they present a choking hazard. Nylon bones are a safer alternative. The hospital offers comprehensive pet dental care, including oral examinations, preventative dental care and treatment of oral health issues affecting pets. The hospital is accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) and offers more detailed information on their website.

Hope this information helps!

Susan, Taurus and Gemini


First published on National Pet Health, Examiner.com