Did you know periodontal disease is the most prevalent disease among dogs and cats? According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of pets show signs of oral disease as early as three years old.
Dental disease is serious–it can cause bad breath, oral pain, difficulty chewing, irritation of the gums, bleeding, and loss of teeth. Bacteria in the mouth can also spread to the heart, liver and kidneys, contributing to significant disease.
Here’s what you can do to help your pet–have its oral health evaluated annually or as recommended by your veterinarian. Your vet will help you determine when professional cleaning is necessary. During a cleaning, your vet uses specialized instruments to remove tartar and plaque and polishes the teeth to help prevent further buildup. This is performed under general anesthesia, because pets will not allow staff to perform these procedures effectively while awake.
Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth at home is the most effective way to control tartar and plaque, as well as bad breath! Use a pet-safe toothpaste (available at your veterinarian), as human toothpastes contain fluoride which can be toxic to pets. For small pets, a small brush that fits over your finger is usually best; for larger pets, a soft bristle human toothbrush works well.
This pet tip is courtesy of Winnetka Animal Hospital.