Our pets need routine dental care just like we do. It is important that dogs and cats have routine dental cleanings and polishings every 6-12 months to maintain dental health and systemic health. Depending on your pet’s breed, they may need to start dental care as young as 12-15 months. Small breed dogs and dogs with short muzzles tend to need more frequent dental cleanings. Symptoms of dental disease may include bad breath, loose teeth, dropping food, kidney and heart disease.

At home care may include brushing your pet’s teeth with a finger brush or a tooth brush for a dog as well as pet safe toothpaste. It is important not to use human tooth pastes for our pets, as these contain fluoride which can be toxic to our pets. Pet toothpastes typically contain enzymatic cleaners to help break down plaque and freshen your pet’s breath.

When your veterinarian recommends a dental for your pet, your pet may need to be fasted for 6-12 hours prior to their procedure, as they will need to be anesthetized and intubated. Anesthesia prevents your pet from swallowing or breathing in the bacteria present on their teeth and below their gum line, and allows your veterinarian to perform a complete oral health assessment. Your veterinarian will examine your pet’s teeth, chart their dental pockets and may recommend dental radiographs as well. If there are any teeth that have signs of infection such as deep pockets or root exposure, then your veterinarian will likely recommend surgical extraction of these teeth. The best way to prevent your pet from needing to have multiple extractions is to continue routine dental cleanings and polishings.

Pets that develop dental disease over time are prone to abscesses and systemic spread of bacteria in their bloodstream. This bacteria can land throughout their body and can lead to heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease and other systemic illness. The best treatment is prevention by keeping your pet’s teeth cleaned routinely with regular at home care and regular professional dental cleanings by your veterinarian.

Ask us about our specials for February’s Dental Health Care month!