Do you love to cuddle with your pet but you can’t stand his bad breath? This may be the start of a big problem.
By the time your dog or cat turns three years old, 80% of them will have significant dental disease. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed health problems in small animals.
Pets are just like people in that they require regular dental hygiene as part of overall health. The buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth may lead to bad breath, painful chewing, bleeding from the mouth, gingivitis, infections of the tooth root and loss of teeth.
Sometimes the signs of dental disease are subtle, such as a lack of energy or decreased playfulness. Often owners attribute these changes to ageing, not realizing that crankiness or lower appetite may be due to oral pain and discomfort.
Cats are particularly good at hiding dental pain because they are solitary animals in nature and they don’t broadcast when something is wrong. What most people don’t realize is that an untreated dental infection can spread to the heart, kidneys and other organs, weaken the immune system and suddenly become life-threatening.
Practicing regular teeth brushing at home, in addition to regular veterinary visits, is the most efficient and cost-effective way to keep your pet healthy, comfortable and pain-free. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so contact your veterinarian if you have questions about your pet’s dental health.
Written by Dr. Laura McKenny, DVM