Why do pets need dental care?

It is a common question we get here at Rockledge Animal Clinic, why do your pets need dental care? Well dental health is very important to your pet’s overall health and dental problems can lead to a variety of other health problems. If your pet is having a dental problem, they may eat less or avoid certain foods. This can cause their diets to become unbalanced and lead to digestive problems, heart problems, kidney problems, liver problems, etc. So the oral health of your pet is actually very important to their overall quality of life.

Oral health in dogs and cats

We recommend that have your pet’s teeth checked at least once a year by our veterinarians. This will help us catch any early signs of problems and keep your pets mouth healthy. You should have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you see any of these following problems:

  • Abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping of food from their mouths
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Extra teeth
  • Pain in or around the mouth
  • Reduced appetite
  • Refusal to eat
  • Swelling in or around the mouth

Some cats and dogs become irritable when they have dental problems and any change in your pet’s behavior should be a warning sign that you should visit your veterinarian.

Causes of pet dental problems

So what causes dental problems in pets? Although cavities are less common in pets than in people, many of the same dental problems we experience can show up in your pet. These could include:

  • Abscesses or infected teeth
  • Broken jaw
  • Broken teeth and/or roots
  • Cysts or tumors in the mouth
  • Palate defects
  • Periodontal disease

Periodontal disease is actually the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. Once your pet reaches 3 years old, it’s very likely that some form of periodontal disease will begin to show up. If left untreated, it will worsen and potentially cause your pet problems in the future. Just like in people, early detection and treatment are critical because advanced periodontal disease will be much harder to treat and can lead to painful and serious diseases such as liver disease, kidney disease and heart muscle changes.

¬†What can I do at home for my pet’s oral health?

Well just like you and me, it’s a pretty good idea for your pet to brush their teeth. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely that your pet is going to go brush their teeth before bed just because you tell them to. Fortunately there are ways that you can do this at home. Most dogs accept brushing but cats can be a bit more resistant. Patience and training are important. There are a lot of pet products on the market for dental health but we recommend that use either a home toothbrush or products that have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (V.O.H.C.)

You can also watch our short video on Pet Oral Health.