Dental health guidance provided by Dr. Sharon Davis, DVM
If you find that your dog or cat’s breath smells, it may be time to take the utmost care of your pet’s dental health.
Dental health: how important is it really?
Periodontal disease can lead to bacteria getting into your pet’s blood stream through their inflamed gums. These bacteria can wreck havoc on the body. They go to heart valves causing endocarditis and heart murmurs as well as travel to other organs seeding infection throughout the body.
Diseased teeth can lead to tooth root abscess and even infection in the jaw bone that can get so bad it can weaken the jaw bone enough to cause a fracture. All these things can be prevented with proper dental care.
Do you think it’s important now?
Check out your pet’s teeth. If any of the following applies, your pet likely has dental disease.
1) You see brown build up on the teeth. Don’t forget to check the back teeth.
2) The gums bleed if you touch them with a cotton tip where the tooth touches the gum.
3) You touch one or more of your pet’s teeth and they move.
4) Your pet’s chew toy has spots of blood on it after chewing on it.
5) Your pet picks up a toy and drops it or doesn’t chew on the toys like before.
6) Your pet shy’s away from his head being petted when he used to enjoy it before.
7) Your pet’s breath can clear the room.
If you recognize any of these symptoms in your pet, have your pet examined by your veterinarian.
If your pet has mild dental tartar, you may be able to get away with just brushing the teeth with a pet approved toothpaste on a routine basis, but eventually almost all pets require a professional dental cleaning – just as you require professional dental cleanings.
If your pet already has evidence of dental disease and gingivitis, your pet requires a professional dental cleaning, or as veterinarians like to call it: a comprehensive oral health assessment and treatment (COHAT for short).
The sooner you get this done, the healthier your pet will be long term, and there will be decreased likelihood of needing extractions.
It is not a one and done for the life of your pet. Dental cleanings need to be done on a regular basis. The frequency depends on your pets breed, genetics, chewing habits and at-home care.
Brushing your pet’s teeth is easier if you start when they are young. Get them used to having your fingers in their mouth, lifting their lips and opening their mouths.
Brushing can be done with a special long handled dog toothbrush, a human tooth brush, a special designed finger cap brush or even just a piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. What you use will depend upon you and the size of your pet. It is important however to only uses specialized pet toothpaste as human toothpaste is harmful to your pet.
For a DIY pet toothpaste recipe that you can make and use at home, watch this “how to” video from Best Friends Pet Hotel:
Listen to the advice of the professionals and veterinarians to tell you when it is a time for a professional cleaning.
In small breed dogs it can be as early as one year of age or as late as 6 years of age in a large breed dog. Cats may require their first cleaning anywhere from 1 year to 8 years; a lot depends on their chewing habits, underlying medical conditions, and at-home care. The most important factor is: don’t wait until your pet is experiencing pain, infection and complications to get it done. It is important to be proactive with dental care. Your pet will thank you.
Your local Best Friends Pet Hotel offers professional teeth brushing as part of our grooming services. Visit our Grooming webpage to learn more and book an appointment. Or call your local center with any questions.
To learn more about veterinary care and monthly vet clinics (in partnership with Vetco) at SELECT local Best Friends Pet Hotel locations, visit our Vet Care webpage. Or call your local center with any questions.