Oral disease is the most common health problem for pets. By the age of 3, approximately 80% of dogs and 75% of cats have developed periodontal disease. Left untreated, the infection can lead to tooth decay or tooth loss and can even spread through the bloodstream and cause kidney, liver, lung and heart problems. However, it is easily treatable and can be prevented by following a program of regular veterinary dental exams and a home dental care routine.
Oral disease begins when plaque a soft film containing bacteria forms on your pet's teeth. If not removed, the plaque will harden into tartar. This tartar builds up below the gum line, causing inflammation of the gum tissue (gingivitis) and the lining of the tooth socket (periodontitis). Without treatment, your pet's teeth can loosen or fall out, and the bacteria can spread to other parts of the body and cause serious health problems.
Common Signs of Oral Disease:
- Yellow-brown tartar near the gum line
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Persistent bad breath
- Abnormal drooling
- Pawing at the mouth
- Loose or missing teeth
- Difficulty eating or loss of appetite
PREVENTING ORAL DISEASE CAN HELP YOUR PET LIVE A HEALTHIER, HAPPIER LIFE
- Do not feed your pet table scraps this can increase the formation of plaque and tartar. Dry, crunchy pet food can help clean plaque from the teeth. Ask your veterinarian about changing to a pet food designed specifically to reduce plaque and tartar.
- Train your pet to accept regular brushings at home. You can start the training by rubbing gauze or a soft cloth across the teeth with your finger. Once your pet has become accustomed to this, specially-designed pet toothbrushes and toothpastes are available. Do not use toothpaste formulated for humans, as it can cause an upset stomach in animals.
- A dental exam should be part of your pet's regular health checkup. Dental problems can be prevented or treated with regular cleaning and scaling done by the veterinarian. Under general anesthesia, plaque and tartar can be removed from the teeth and also from below the gum line where bacteria can hide.
Your pet is never too old to start a dental care routine. It is an important step in maintaining health. The older your pet gets, the more likely it is to develop oral disease. Ask your veterinarian to help you get started.