We all know how important it is to keep up on our own dental hygiene. Routine visits to the dentist and daily oral care help to keep us healthy and pain free. Therefore, it shouldn’t be a shock that the same is true for dogs and cats.
Pet dental health is so important that the month of February is National Pet Dental Health Month! Every February is dedicated to pet dental health by the American Veterinary Medical Foundation in order to spread awareness and prevent avoidable health issues. Your pet’s dental health is a crucial aspect to their overall health as dental health issues can cause or be caused by other health problems.
Bad breath is the first sign of dental issues in cats and dogs and is unfortunately all too commonly disregarded as normal stinky pet breath by owners. The smell develops when plaque, a sticky mixture of saliva, food, and bacteria, and tartar (mineralized plaque) accumulates on the teeth. The bacteria and rotting food in plaque and tartar produce foul odors and also irritate nearby gum tissue resulting in gingivitis. Other signs of periodontal disease include oral pain, a reluctance to eat, weight loss, irritability, sneezing/nasal discharge, and facial abscesses.
Your pets teeth and gums should be evaluated at least once a year by their Veterinarian in order to check for signs of health issues and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy. Your pet’s Veterinarian may recommend professional dental cleanings in order to remove plaque and tartar buildup as well as to contain periodontal disease if detected.
In addition to yearly dental checkups with their Veterinarian, an at home routine for dental upkeep should be established. This can be challenging for any pet owner, so the sooner a maintenance plan is established, the better. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily is ideal but may not be realistic as many pets despise this. In the event your pet will not allow you to brush their teeth, dental chews are another great option to help remove plaque and tartar.