Does your dog’s breath stink? Does your cat’s teeth have a brown coating? These and other signs should trigger you to consider what might be going on with your pet’s dental health.
The majority of dogs and cats will develop dental issues sometime in their lives, oftentimes before the age of three. Periodontal disease affects both canines and felines and starts out as plaque, just like with humans. Not dealt with, plaque can lead to gingivitis, which is an inflammation of the gums. Dental health issues can lead to other medical issues. However, also like humans, such conditions can be abated.
Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
Did you know you can brush your dog or cat’s teeth? Again like humans, consistent brushing can ward off dental disease.
Specialty toothbrushes, including finger brushes, and flavored toothpastes are created for pets. You can find these at many pet supply stores or your veterinarian. Don’t use people-oriented brushes or pastes – they can harm your pet.
Gradually introduce brushing to your animal, over the course of several days, even weeks. Cats especially dislike new things, like toothbrushes! Therefore, be patient but persistent – and gentle.
Brush your dog or cat’s teeth a few times a week and brush on the outside only. Praise your pet throughout the endeavor.
Why is Pet Dental Health Important?
A pet’s dental health isn’t just about teeth and gums; periodontal disease can affect your pet’s overall health. Kidney and liver disease can result from bacteria flowing from the mouth through the animal’s bloodstream. Sepsis can set in from blood infections. Your pet’s heart can also be negatively impacted from poor dental health, and in particular in small dogs, bone infections can develop.
With cats, an erosion in the tooth called feline resorptive lesions (FRLs) is fairly common, in both young and old kitties. According to International Cat Care, more than 70% of cats five years and older have at least one FRL. “The cause of FRLs is unknown but cells called odontoclasts (which break down the substance of the tooth) are found in the erosions,” according to the website.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Keep your pet’s mouth and teeth healthy and you’ll also keep him/her healthier overall!
Access a PDF Guide on How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth, from Petfinder.com, here: https://d17fnq9dkz9hgj.cloudfront.net/uploads/2018/08/brushing-your-pets-teeth.pdf
Click here to watch a veterinarian brush an animal's teeth and learn more about why dental health is so important:
Gayle M. Irwin is a writer and public relations professional who volunteers with various animal rescue groups. She enjoys sharing her books and her passion for pets and the environment with others.