Many pet owners don’t realize the importance of caring for their dog’s or cat’s teeth and gums at home. As a dog owner myself, I understand how difficult it can be trying to brush even occasionally for our furry friends. Because of this, the American Veterinary Medical Association estimates that approximately 70 percent of companion animals have some form of oral health disease by the time they reach age three. Outlined below are some problems you should watch for and some possible causes of issues with out pets.
Does Your Pet Have Any of These Common Symptoms of an Oral Health Problem?
Although dogs and cats experience many of the same dental health issues that people do, they can’t tell us what is wrong. You may notice that your pet vocalizes more, has difficulty chewing or even refuses to eat altogether. These are the more obvious indications that they need immediate attention. Some other signs that your pet could have gum disease or another common oral health problem include:
- Abnormal chewing
- Bad breath
- Bleeding or swelling of the mouth or the areas surrounding it
- Broken or loose teeth
- Dropping food out of the mouth
- Excessive drooling
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Pain or tenderness around the mouth
- Discoloured teeth
When your pet can’t chew food properly, they don’t receive important nutrition. This can lead to a wide range of other health problems. Unfortunately, untreated gum disease can also cause a loss of bone in the mouth, loosening of teeth and the eventual loss of teeth. If you notice these or other symptoms regarding your pet’s oral health, don’t hesitate to seek professional guidance from a trusted vet.
Causes of the Most Common Dental Issues in Pets
Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, is the most common cause of serious dental health problems in dogs and cats. Some others include:
- Broken Jaw
- Broken roots and crowns
- Cleft palate and other palate defects
- Infected or abscessed teeth
- Tumours or cysts inside of the mouth
- Misalignment of the bite and teeth
Periodontal disease develops when plaque on the teeth hardens and turns into tartar. It’s easy to see and remove tartar located above the gum line, although you may not always get cooperation from your pet. It becomes much more difficult when the tartar gets lodged below the gum line where you can’t see it. The longer gum disease goes untreated, the more likely it is that your pet will experience hard and soft tissue damage and quite possibly an infection that can lead to bone and tooth loss. Veterinary dental specialists rate periodontal disease from zero to four based on the degree of apparent damage.
Dental Cleaning Under Anesthesia
Getting a dental cleaning for your dog or cat annually is the best way to ensure that their teeth and gums remain free of bacteria and tartar. Although we can’t treat your pet’s dental problems, we do understand how important they are to your family. Feel free to start up a conversation with any of us next time you’re at our office, as we are all pet lovers here!