As devoted companions to your furry friends, it is natural to want the best for their well-being. Knowing the truth about pet dental care becomes paramount amidst common misconceptions and myths. In this blog, we set out to unravel the misconceptions surrounding this vital aspect of pet wellness and shed light on how best to care for your beloved companions’ dental health.
Pet Dental Health Myths Debunked
- Myth: Pets don’t need dental care
Truth: Like humans, pets are susceptible to dental issues. Bacteria in your pet’s mouth combine with food particles to create a sticky film called plaque. Plaque hardens into tartar due to mineral deposits in your pet’s saliva. Tartar provides a surface for bacteria to thrive. Tartar buildup can lead to gum disease, tooth decay, and even tooth loss. Neglecting your pet’s dental health can also affect its general health. The bacteria from dental disease can enter their bloodstream and travel to organs like the heart, liver, and kidneys. This bacteria can contribute to heart, liver, and kidney disease.
- Myth: Dry food cleans pets’ teeth.
Truth: While dry food may have some abrasive action on teeth, it is not enough to thoroughly remove plaque and tartar from the teeth.
- Myth: Dental problems only affect older pets.
Truth: Dental problems can occur at any age, even in young pets. Starting dental care early on can help prevent dental issues. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, by age 3 your dog or cat will likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if you do not address the disease.
- Myth: “Give a dog a bone.” Bones are good for pets’ teeth.
Truth: Pets can break or crack their teeth on bones, especially if the bones are too hard or if the pet chews them aggressively. Bones can splinter or fracture, causing injury to the pet’s mouth, teeth, or digestive tract.
- Myth: Pets with dental pain will not eat.
Truth: A pet may have difficulty eating with dental pain or may stop eating. However, t due to their survival instincts, pets will typically eat even when suffering from tooth pain. Please do not assume your pet has no tooth pain because you see them eating. Always watch for other signs that may indicate your pet could have a dental problem.
Signs of Pet Dental Health Problems
Pet dental problems start with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gumline can often be seen and removed easily. But tartar below the gumline is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jawbone.
Pets are masters at concealing their discomfort, making it vital for pet parents to be constant, keen observers. Being proactive can make all the difference in your pet’s dental well-being. Here are common signs to watch for:
- Bad breath: Persistent bad breath, often described as “fishy” or “rotten,” can indicate dental problems in pets.
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums: Inflamed or bleeding gums may indicate gum disease or other dental issues.
- Difficulty eating or chewing: If your pet is having trouble eating or chewing, or stops eating, it may be due to tooth pain or discomfort caused by dental problems.
- Pawing at the mouth: Pets experiencing dental pain may paw at their mouth to alleviate the discomfort.
- Drooling excessively: Excessive drooling can be a sign of dental issues, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as bad breath or difficulty eating.
- Changes in behavior: Dental pain can cause changes in your pet’s behavior, including irritability, aggression, or reluctance when you touch around the head and mouth.
If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please contact us so we can examine its teeth. Early detection and treatment can prevent further complications and maintain your pet’s dental health.
At Home Dental Care is Essential
We have found that many pet parents don’t brush their pets’ teeth because they need to learn how or have busy schedules. But thanks to the American Veterinary Medical Association, we have a brief yet informative video on how to get started. Watch the video and learn how simple it is and that it doesn’t take much time at all! Your effort will make your pet’s tail wag or whiskers twitch joyfully! Just click on the picture below to watch.
Professional Pet Teeth Cleaning at Hammond Veterinary Hospital
Dental chews and chewing toys, along with brushing your pet’s teeth at home, significantly help to keep your pet’s teeth clean. However, only professional cleanings by a trained veterinarian can remove plaque and tartar that develops below the gum line, where it will do the most damage.
Please click on the picture below to watch this informative video from the AVMA about veterinarian dental cleanings:
Exotic Pet Dental Care
Many exotic animals have unique dental structures and dietary needs that differ from traditional domestic pets. Without proper dental hygiene, these animals can suffer from dental issues such as overgrown teeth, periodontal disease, and malocclusions. (A malocclusion in an exotic pet refers to a condition where the upper and lower teeth don’t meet correctly, potentially causing pain and making it difficult for the pet to eat.)
Regular dental checkups and preventive care, including appropriate chewing toys and a balanced diet, are essential to maintaining proper oral health in exotic pets. By prioritizing dental care, owners can contribute to the longevity and happiness of their exotic companions, promoting a high quality of life for these unique and often delicate creatures.
Conclusion: Partnering for Pet Dental Wellness at Hammond Veterinary Hospital
At Hammond Veterinary Hospital, we’re committed to supporting you in maintaining your pet’s health. Stay vigilant and proactive with at-home dental care and bring your pet into our hospital for professional dental treatment. Together, we ensure your pet enjoys a healthier life. Let’s continue fostering their well-being – contact us now and schedule your pet’s next dental cleaning.
Your Caring Team
Hammond Veterinary Hospital