Dental Health for Pets (Cats and Dogs)
Preventing diseases and their discomforts through oral hygiene is another way we can promote healthier and happier lives for our pets.
Dental care requirements for cats and dogs are relatively the same.
- Begin to care for the oral hygiene of pets as early as possible and for several days of the week, if not daily.
- Have annual or biannual check-ups and professional cleanings with your vet.
- Diets, treats, and water additives can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup on the teeth. Some dry foods, especially the Hill’s prescription diet t/d that we sell, are specially manufactured to be better at rubbing plaque and tartar off the teeth.
- There are cat- and dog-specific toothbrushes and toothpastes. We carry some, as do most pet supply stores.
Cats and dogs tend to be susceptible to the same dental health problems.
- In a study that took place over 3 years, about 2/3 of all pets that were taken to the vet had developed some degree and variety of dental disease.
- 2/3 of dogs in the three years had developed periodontal disease.
- Dental disease develops when tartar forms on teeth after plaque from food is mineralized.
Bacteria and decaying food stick to tartar, and their presence can contribute to infection through wounds in the mouth as well as gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). This is because bacteria can be absorbed into the bloodstream and carried to various internal
organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver.
- Gingivitis can also progress into periodontal disease, in which the infection and inflammation wear down the tissues and ligaments that support teeth, causing tooth loss and abscesses. The latter stages and damage that is done are irreversible.
- Cats may also develop lesions on their teeth, which occur when tooth enamel is worn away, exposing sensitive parts inside of the tooth and causing pain.
These problems can also be treated with similar measures.
- On their own, dogs and cats get rid of plaque and tartar buildup simply by eating and chewing..
- A pet can only be treated for dental lmdisease while under general anesthesia with a veterinarian. Anesthesia is required to minimize the pain and panic of the pet and to maximize the effectiveness of the check-up or cleaning. Damaged teeth that may be painful or cause problems in the future can then be removed.
- Groomers and boarding kennels can only brush your pet’s teeth, which is NOT a dental cleaning.
- During dental cleanings at the vet, the teeth are scaled ultrasonically snd then polished with a high speed polisher. Tartar and plaque are removed from the teeth above and below the gumline. Tartar below the gumline can contribute more to the recession of gums than does tartar above the gumline. In cases of severe dental disease, antibiotics may be necessary before and/or after the dental cleaning.
- Chew toys not only satisfy a craving to chew, but they can also help reduce plaque and tartar buildup.
If we want to protect the wellbeing of our pets through dental care, we have to do it the right way.
- Don’t try to remove tartar on your own. You won’t be able to get under the gums like a professional can, and attempting to do so could hurt your pet. Your pet would also not stand for it. Since you can’t polish the teeth afterwards, the scratches and indentations left behind by the instrument would encourage dental disease to progress even faster by allowing bacteria and plaque to attach and build up more quickly.
- Don’t use toothpastes for humans or baking soda to brush your pet’s teeth. Ingredients like sodium and foaming agents can be toxic and cause internal damage. Fluoride in our toothpastes can also make your pet sick.
If you have more questions or if your pet’s behavior changes, contact our team at Longview Animal Hospital.
During the month of February, Longview Animal Hospital offers 15% off dental cleaning services for your pet. Additional information on our process can be found at our Dentistry Page at http://www.longviewanimalhospital.com/dentistry/.
Call today at 903-807-0887 to arrange for an appointment!