When was the last time you thought about the health and condition of your pet’s teeth? Dental health is one area of pet ownership that often gets overlooked. Nevertheless, your pet’s teeth and mouth are just as important as your own and must be taken care of properly to ensure that they remain healthy and in good condition. Failure to do so could make your pet more likely to develop several different issues. Here are some of the risks associated with poor pet dental health.
Periodontal disease is the biggest threat to your pet’s oral health and the longevity of their teeth. Around 80% of dogs and 70% of cats will exhibit signs of periodontal disease – which is inflammation and infection of the gums – by their third birthday. Periodontal disease is a progressive condition and left untreated, could cause abscesses, severe pain, and tooth loss. Studies have also shown a link between periodontal disease and other chronic health conditions in people and pets alike, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and even some types of cancer.
Decay is the second most common dental problem experienced by animals. This is largely because their diets typically contain far less sugar than our own. Nevertheless, without the right care, areas of decay – which occur when bacteria interact with sugars and release acids which erode your pet’s teeth. Dental decay can cause sensitivity and pain and if left without treatment, could put your pet’s teeth at risk.
No caring owner wants to see their pet suffering unnecessarily, but this is something that is a very real possibility if your adored animal has poor dental health. Dental pain can occur for a variety of reasons, from the discomfort associated with infections to tooth sensitivity and pain caused by decay. You can potentially avoid your pet from experiencing dental pain by ensuring that their teeth and mouth are as healthy as possible.
Unsurprisingly, if your pet has dental pain or loose teeth it can make simple things like eating and picking up and carrying objects more difficult than they need to be. They could even cause your pet pain. If you notice your pet dropping food or seeming reluctant to eat, pick things up, or hold them in their mouth, they could have dental issues that require addressing.
If your pet develops serious dental problems that aren’t addressed, there is a very real risk that they will need to have a tooth removed or that one or more teeth will fall out of their own accord. This may affect your pet’s appearance and how well they can eat and perform some activities, such as playing with a frisbee or ball. The extraction process is as unpleasant for a pet as it is for a human, and any responsible owner will want to avoid the procedure if possible.
Bad breath might not be the most serious complication of poor dental health, but it is certainly an unpleasant one. Dental caries and gum disease are caused by bacteria, and these release an odor that will cause your pet to have bad breath.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to preserve your pet’s dental health. These include:
Brushing your pet’s teeth with veterinary-approved toothpaste
Giving them dental sticks to chew on
Limit their diet so that they don’t consume sugary foods
Encouraging chewing on appropriate toys, which stimulates saliva that neutralizes acids and washes away bacteria and food debris
Scheduling an annual professional dental clean with your veterinary dentist
If you would like more advice on the risks associated with poor pet dental health and what you can do to take proper care of your pet’s teeth, don’t hesitate to contact our compassionate and knowledgeable veterinary team.