Dentistry is a rapidly expanding field of veterinary science. Over the past 25 years, we’ve come to realize the importance of cat and dog dental care to the overall health of the patients we treat.
Just like humans, our pets are vulnerable to gum disease and dental problems.
But unlike us, our animal friends don’t take the initiative when it comes to brushing their teeth.
Alarmingly, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease before the age of three.
Dog and cat dental cleaning: an obligation too often neglected
When bacteria, food particles and saliva accumulate on your cat’s or dog’s teeth, plaque forms. Plaque adheres to the tooth surface above and below the gum line and, if not removed, calcifies into tartar (also known as calculus). This appears as a yellowish-brown material on the teeth.
Over time, and in the absence of preventive or therapeutic dental care adapted to your pet’s needs, bacterial infection of the tartar causes irreversible changes. These include destruction of supporting tissues and bone, resulting in red gums, bad breath and loosening of the teeth.
This same bacterial infection is also a source of infection for the rest of the body (such as the kidneys, liver and heart) and can make your pet seriously ill. Ultimately, dental disease leads to tooth loss, gum infection and unnecessary pain in many pets. It can also reduce your pet’s life expectancy. Periodontal disease can cause even heart or kidney problems.
Pet dental care: at home and at the veterinary
What home dental care should you provide for your dog or cat?
The long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular care at home. Daily brushing with a pet toothbrush and special toothpaste is the best form of oral hygiene, but is often not possible.
Raw, meaty bones or special dental diets can help reduce tartar build-up.Use dental toys, enzymatic chews or teeth-cleaning cookies, all of which can help keep teeth clean.
Regular and frequent attention to your pet’s teeth can save him or her from professional dental cleaning under anaesthetic and improve overall health.
When should you see a dog or cat dentist?
A professional canine or feline dental cleaning is identical to the scaling and polishing procedure performed by a human dentist. Like a dentist, a veterinarian uses special equipment to clean teeth. However, our pets must undergo general anesthesia to benefit from a thorough cleaning using specialized dental equipment.
Common signs of dog and cat teeth disease, in order of severity, are as follows:
- Yellow-brown tartar around the gum line
- Red, inflamed gums
- Bad breath
- Changes in eating or chewing habits (especially in cats)
- Pawing of the face or mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Pain or bleeding on touching gums or mouth
If your beloved animal shows any of these signs of dental disease, a vet exam may be in order. Don’t wait, make an appointment with one of our veterinarians. Early treatment can save your pet’s teeth!