While we treat dental disease in pets throughoutthe year, February is National Pet Dental Month and we like to make a special push to see as many smiling dogs and cats as we can!
In a typical year at Big Creek Pet Hospital, we identify that more than 40% of the pets we care for need a dental cleaning. An additional 20% of those pets also show early signs of dental disease.
Dental disease is the number one problem we see in pets. Obesity is the next most common problem – more than 37% of the pets we see being overweight. Last year nearly 400 pets received dental care, which usually means a free check up, followed by a full professional cleaning under anesthesia and our advice for follow-up care at home.
Unfortunately, that was only about one-third of the pets that needed a cleaning. The rest run the risk of declining oral health and the dangers that come with it, such as infections resulting from gum disease that spreads around the body, behavioral changes, and nutritional issues that result from not being able to eat.
All of which means it’s vital to know what to look for in your pet’s mouth and to understand the difference between common behavior changes and those that are caused by a dental problem.
How to Spot Dental Disease in Cats
Cats are usually more difficult to diagnose than dogs, especially at home. Our feline friends prefer not to trouble us with health concerns and tend to become withdrawn when they’re hurting, which makes it even harder to tell what’s wrong.
Dental illness in cats has similar health repercussions as dogs, though, so it’s just as important to keep your cat’s mouth free from disease as it is with a canine companion. In fact, by the age of three, 70% of cats have some signs of dental disease. Catching it early means that your veterinarian can recommend action that saves your feline friend a lot of discomfort in the long run.
If you’re concerned about your cat’s teeth or gums, here are some of the common warning signs of dental issues:
- Bad breath,
- Drooling or chattering teeth,
- Difficulty eating or decreased appetite,
- Sudden weight loss,
- Unexpected change in behavior, such as increased irritability or aggression.
For more information, read our most frequently asked questions about dental disease in cats.
How to Spot Dental Disease in Dogs
As we all know, dogs love to chomp and chew on all kinds of things. From chew toys to doggy chow and all kinds of unsuitable items in between, there’s not much that your pooch won’t test his or her teeth on!
Some of these things can be good for your dog, helping to make saliva and prevent the build-up of plaque that can damage teeth. Others can cause teeth to chip and crack, however, and lead to more serious dental issues down the line. Regular dental checks help to identify these issues, but there are also things you should watch out for at home.
Regular dental checks with an experienced veterinarian help to identify these issues, but there are also things you should watch out for at home.
Here are some of the warning signs when you consider the condition of your dog’s teeth:
- Bad breath,
- Discolored teeth,
- Swollen gums that are red or sometimes bleeding,
- Loss of appetite,
- Loose teeth.
For more information, read our most frequently asked questions about dental disease in dogs.
How to Handle Dental Disease in Pets
If you spot any of the signs listed above, now is the time to act.
Even if you’re uncertain, the fact that February sees so many dental specials on offer makes it the ideal time to get your dog or cat’s teeth checked. You’ll either get the all clear – and the peace of mind that comes with it – or catch a potential health issue early enough to do something about it.
Another advantage of getting a pet dental check is that a veterinarian can show you all of the ways to keep your pet’s teeth healthy at home. Regular dental care on your own schedule helps to keep more severe oral health issues away, just as it does in humans. This saves you money in the long-term, as emergency care comes at a high cost and not everyone will be able to afford that one-time major expense. Portion that spending out over the years of your pet’s life, however
This saves you money in the long-term, as emergency care comes at a high cost and not everyone will be able to afford that one-time major expense. Spread out that spending over the years of your pet’s life, however, and the risk of sticker shock is dramatically decreased. More importantly, it makes life much more comfortable for your furry family member, which is why you’re reading this in the first place!
In the meantime, here are some of the things you can do at home to keep your pet’s teeth shining bright:
- Get a toothbrush and some special toothpaste for your pet. Start a regular routine of brushing so that they get used to the activity and are ready for a full veterinary dental check.
- Ask your vet which products they recommend to help fight gum disease, such as formulated treats, chew toys, food and toothpaste. Work these recommendations into your daily routine with your pet.
- Monitor your dog’s time with chew toys and other items they enjoy, like sticks and bones.
- Check your pet’s teeth every week or two for the warning signs covered above.
With regular home care and annual dental checks by a veterinarian, your furry family member stands the best chance of avoiding common pet dental problems. This can be a factor in your dog or cat living longer and getting more out of the extra time they’re with you, as they’re free from the discomfort of major dental problems.
To learn more about dental specials and services available, or to reserve your free dental check, call us on 440-234-5831.
Alternatively, click here to book an appointment.