Dental Care Month
February is national pet dental health month. To kick off this month, we are going to state some facts about pet periodontal disease and some things you can do to promote a healthy mouth in your pet.
Did you know by the age of 2 years, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have periodontal disease. Plaque forms on a tooth’s surface within hours, which is why we brush our own teeth twice a day and floss daily. Dogs and cats require their owners to take care of everything including their teeth. Bad breath is one of the first indicators of dental disease. Infections in their mouth can spread to the heart, liver or kidneys. Periodontal disease is the most common health condition that can be avoided. There are four stages of Periodontal disease and if caught and treated early enough, we (MVVS and you as the pet owner) can help to prevent irreversible damage and tooth loss.
- Stage 1: Gingivitis – The gum that meets the teeth is inflamed and swollen and plaque is present on the teeth.
- Stage 2: Early Periodontal Disease – in addition to all the symptoms from grade 1, the mouth is painful and bad breath is noticeable.
- Stage 3: Moderate Periodontal Disease – The gum that meets the teeth are very swollen and bleeding. Infection and hardened tartar are destroying the gum. Periodontitis has begun to destroy the ligaments and bone that keep the teeth in the head.
- Stage 4: Advanced Periodontal Disease – The gum that meets the teeth has been destroyed by infection and is no longer present. The roots of the teeth may be exposed. The ligaments and bone are being destroyed.
There are some things you can do at home to keep a happy, healthy pet mouth. There are a variety of dental chews and diets available to aid in the removal of plaque on your pet’s teeth. One product we carry is called Oravet. It contains products that fight bacteria in the mouth before it turns into plaque or tartar. We also offer water additives that alter the bacteria in the mouth to decrease the progress of plaque building up.
The best way to have a healthy mouth is by brushing daily with a soft bristled brush and an enzymatic, non-fluoride pet toothpaste. When you start to brush your pet’s teeth, go in slow steps. For the first couple of times, allow them to lick the toothpaste off your finger. Once they are used to this you can start to gently massage their gum line along their front teeth with your finger as they lick off the toothpaste. Again, once they are used to this, work in the toothbrush or finger brush. If your dog doesn’t like the brush, you can try putting the toothpaste on their favorite chew or rope toy. The act of playing with their toy will help fight against periodontal disease.
An excellent home oral care program will stretch the time between professional dental care and provide a happy healthy pet with fresh kisses!