Studies have shown that a healthy mouth can actually add years to your pet’s life. Around 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will have some form of dental disease before they turn three. Because of this, it’s recommended that your pet have a dental exam once a year. Animals who have problems may need to get their teeth cleaned and checked more frequently. Here are some signs to watch for:
Signs of Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats
Here are some signs of dental disease in dogs and cats:
Bad breath (beyond the usual doggy breath)
Broken, chipped, or loose teeth
Retained baby teeth
Unusual chewing or drooling, dropping food from the mouth. In cats, tilting of the head to maneuver food onto less painful teeth is a sign of a toothache.
Refusal to eat
Bleeding from the mouth
Swelling in and around the mouth
Changes in behavior
All of these can indicate the various dental problems your dog or cat can have.
Common Dental Problems in Dogs and Cats
Cavities are rare in dogs and cats due to the fact that we generally don’t feed them sweets (cats, in fact, can’t even taste sugar). However, they can still experience problems, such as:
Periodontal (gum) disease
Abscesses or infections in the teeth
A misaligned jaw, which can cause problems with eating
Palate defects in puppies and kittens
Broken teeth. In dogs, this often comes from trying to chew something they really shouldn’t.
Cysts or tumors in the mouth.
Injury to the jaw.
All of these require some form of treatment and would benefit from a vet visit.
How Important is Dental Cleaning for your pet?
Your pet should have their teeth cleaned and their mouth inspected once a year. Regular cleaning can reduce your pet’s risk of developing gum disease.
The exam may also detect other problems. This might include oral cancer. It can also include stomatitis, a painful condition that causes ulcers in the mouth (it’s caused by a virus), and often requires the extraction of multiple teeth to deal with.
What Else Should I Do for My Dog or Cat’s Teeth?
Just like humans, dogs and cats benefit from regular brushing. Brushing your pet’s teeth every day is the best thing you can do to help them keep a healthy mouth. If your pet is resistant to brushing, perhaps because they didn’t get used to it as a puppy or kitten, you might consider a dental diet, which is kibble or dry food designed to help clean teeth. (Your vet might also recommend this for a pet with dental disease). Tooth wipes are sometimes more tolerated than brushing. Always use species-appropriate toothpaste; human toothpaste can be toxic to smaller animals, especially cats.
For dogs, don’t let your dogs chew on cow or horse hooves, metal, stone or anything else hard. Anything you let your dog chew on should have some give in it to avoid tooth fractures. There are many dental treats and toys made to help keep pet’s teeth clean and smelling good.
Chew toys and dental treats are also beneficial to cats. Make sure to get toys made especially for cats. And, of course, cat toys help your cat’s mental health too.
But the best thing to do is to brush your pet’s teeth regularly and schedule an annual dental checkup to make sure that everything is alright in their mouth. If you have more questions or want to schedule your pet’s teeth cleaning,contact Midway Animal Hospital or learn more about pet dental services.
If your dog or cat needs a surgical consultation, feel free to reach out to Midway Animal Hospital today. We’ll answer all your questions and set up a pre-operative appointment for your pet. We also offer pet grooming, pet boarding, pet hospice and other veterinary services.
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