Does your dog or cat have breath that could knock you over? Do you avoid getting near your pet’s face because of the bad smell from the mouth? If so, your pet could be suffering from dental disease. Dental disease comes in many different forms and is the leading cause of halitosis for our pets.
Contents at a Glance
- Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats
- Signs of Dental Disease in Pets
- What Should You Do if You Think Your Pet Has Dental Disease?
- Is Anesthesia Really Necessary?
- At Home Dental Care for Pets
Periodontal Disease in Dogs and Cats
Periodontal disease is, according to the experts at American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC), the most commonly diagnosed clinical disease seen in our pets. The majority of both dogs and cats (approximately 80%!) suffer some degree of dental disease by the time they are three years of age.
Signs of Dental Disease in Pets
What signs should you be watching for? We’ve already mentioned one of the most common: bad breath. Here are some others to watch for:
- Loose teeth
- Teeth that are discolored or covered with tartar/calculi
- Dropping food from the mouth while eating
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Reluctance to allow you to touch or handle the area surrounding the mouth
- Lack of appetite
- Weight loss
What Should You Do if You Think Your Pet Has Dental Disease?
Start with a visit to your veterinarian. Your pet will need to be anesthetized for a full dental evaluation. Your veterinarian will carefully examine and probe each individual tooth and examine the entire oral cavity. Radiographs (x-rays) of your pet’s mouth may be necessary because dental disease quite often occurs below the gum line and is frequently not readily visible without radiographs. While your pet is anesthetized, your veterinarian will clean and polish all of the teeth and formulate a plan for dealing with any other dental issues uncovered during the examination.
Is Anesthesia Really Necessary?
Yes, anesthesia is absolutely necessary to perform an adequate examination and cleaning. In fact, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) has published guidelines mandating general anesthesia for pets undergoing dental procedures. AAHA-certified veterinary hospitals are required to follow these guidelines in order to maintain their accreditation.
At Home Dental Care for Pets
Though veterinary dental care is essential for your pet, at home care is equally necessary. The best way to keep your pet’s mouth healthy is through regular brushing. Most dogs and cats can be taught to allow this procedure. However, if your pet is one that resists tooth brushing, there are other options. Dental chews, dental diets, toys that promote dental health, oral rinses, and other products are available. Discuss your options with your veterinarian. She will help you establish a successful home dental care program specific to your pet’s needs.