Friday, January 10, 2020

Why is Pet Dental Care so Important?

Pet dental care is one of the most overlooked areas of veterinary medicine. More dogs and cats experience dental disease than those that don’t, and while awareness of dental disease has increased significantly, the condition itself remains as prevalent as ever. While we can’t easily explain the disparity, we can shed light on what proper dental care is all about and how you can improve your pet’s oral hygiene. For a more in-depth discussion about their dental needs, you can contact our animal hospital and set up a consultation with your veterinarian.

When to Start Your Pet’s Dental Care Routine
The moment your new puppy or kitten enters your home, you should start thinking about getting them a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste. The sooner you and your pet get accustomed to brushing their teeth, the sooner it will become a (healthy) habit. You can also get in touch with your veterinarian if you’re having trouble getting your pet comfortable with the practice. This can take time, so patience is key!

While it’s never too late to start a habit of brushing, older pets may be more difficult to train. If brushing their teeth ends up being too stressful and time-consuming, there are other options. Some other effective dental solutions include:
- Finger brushes
- Dental chews
- Dental toys
- Water additives
- Prescription dental diets

When You Need Professional Dental Care
Unfortunately, brushing alone will not prevent dental disease. Just like your own dental regime, your pet will need routine visits to the vet in order to maintain their oral health. Annual wellness visits are essential in preventing dental disease because pets are masters at hiding their symptoms. With a close eye, though, you may be able to detect these subtle signs:
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating or grabbing toys
- Discolored teeth
- Chewing only on one side
- Traces of blood in food or water bowls
- Loose teeth

At annual wellness exams, we always include a dental evaluation and look for these, and other signs of disease. If we find any, we will recommend a professional dental cleaning. A professional cleaning involves an in-depth assessment of your pet’s oral health as well as the treatment to prevent or reverse disease. A full dental cleaning will include:
- Digital dental X-rays
- Ultrasonic and hand scaling to remove tartar
- Polishing of each tooth to smooth enamel and reduce future tartar buildup
- Extractions, as needed, of damaged teeth*
*Our goal is to prevent dental disease from ever causing the need for extractions. Yet, in the event your pet does need it, we provide pain medication so they wake with minimal discomfort.

Why You Should Prevent Rather than Treat Disease
Preventing dental disease not only saves you money, it spares your pet the painful and dangerous experience of dental disease. Disease not only takes a toll on your pet’s mouth, it can also spread to other areas of the body and damage their heart, liver, and kidneys. By the time if gets that far, your pet will not only need dental care and extractions, but also treatment for their damaged organs. This is far more costly that routine dental cleanings! Additionally, with preventative care, you can help your pet live a healthier and longer life with you.

Schedule your pet’s dental appointment today to keep disease at bay!

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