Would you let years go by between your visits to the dentist? You probably would not want that to happen! Your pet’s dental health is just as important to his or her overall health as your dental health is to your general health.
Dental disease in pets is actually one of the most common and most overlooked pet diseases. Proper tooth and gum exams are now part of a regular veterinary visit because dental health is an essential aspect of your pet’s long-term health and vitality. Dental disease doesn’t affect just the mouth. It leads to more serious health problems including heart, lung and kidney disease, which makes it all the more important that you provide your little fuzzy ones with proper dental care right from the start.
What are the symptoms of pet dental disease?
Bad breath is the most common symptom of poor pet dental health. Some other symptoms include swollen gums, difficulty or pain when chewing, excess tartar, poor appetite, and weight loss. If your pet has gingivitis, you want to make sure that it does not escalate to periodontal disease, which could cause the infection to spread to other organs.
How is it diagnosed?
Dental disease can only be diagnosed after a complete oral examination which is performed by a veterinarian. Following the oral exam most veterinarians will also look for other common signs of dental disease. Once the disease is diagnosed the veterinarian can then set up a treatment plan.
How is it treated?
If your pet has a mild form of dental disease, such as tartar or gingivitis, the treatment is a simple cleaning plan, but if tartar or gingivitis is more serious, a veterinarian should perform a professional tooth cleaning. In such cleanings, your pet will be anesthetized to allow for the tartar to be removed from the teeth as well as from under the gum line. Once the tartar is removed, the teeth are cleaned with an antibacterial rinse and are polished to make it more difficult for tartar build up to start again.
How is it prevented?
Pet dental disease is easily preventable. In order to slow down the build-up of tartar and gingivitis, you should feed your pet a prescription diet and brush its teeth regularly. If you cannot brush your pet’s teeth, you can feed them enzyme chews as a substitute. Whatever you choose to do, just remember that prevention is an important step to ensuring your pet’s overall health.