As a pet owner, you are aware that your animal fully relies on you for their health and wellbeing. There are lots of different elements to comprehensive and responsible pet care, from providing the right food and exercise to protecting your animal against disease. One area of pet care that often gets overlooked in favor of more obvious needs is pet dental care.
Just like us, our animals need strong, healthy teeth in order for their mouths to remain free of disease. However, since they can’t take care of their own oral health, it’s up to us to make sure that we prioritize our pet’s dental care as much as we do our own.
Pet dental care, like human dental care, involves combining a number of positive steps to ensure that their teeth are as clean as possible, and their mouth is healthy and free from disease. These steps include:
Yes, really! While it’s not possible to brush the teeth of every pet, dog and cat owners, in particular, should make the effort to clean their animal’s teeth on a regular basis. You can purchase special toothbrushes and should only ever use pet toothpaste (as human varieties are toxic to animals). Your vet at Border Animal Hospital will be happy to show you how to introduce your pet to toothbrushing and advise you on the best techniques to use.
Dogs are especially fond of chew toys, but you may be surprised to learn that they are good for their teeth too. Chewing strengthens their jaw and stimulates the production of saliva, which washes away bacteria and food debris and helps to prevent decay and gum disease.
Animals need to have their teeth and mouth checked for signs of disease too, and regular check-ups will help ensure that any developing problems are addressed quickly before they cause your pet pain and suffering.
There are a number of reasons why it is important to take care of your pet’s teeth. By far the most important is that it could help to prevent them from developing dental disease, which is the most common dental condition affecting dogs. Dental disease, also known as periodontal disease, gum disease, or periodontitis is the most prevalent oral health condition affecting pets. It occurs when plaque, which is the clear sticky substance that contains bacteria and food particles and forms of our teeth, isn’t cleaned away regularly and instead builds up on their teeth and starts to spread onto the gum tissue. It also hardens, forming a substance known as tartar.
Dental disease may not sound or even look particularly frightening. However, when plaque and tartar spread below the gum line, it causes significant inflammation that not only causes infection but also damages the structures supporting your pet’s teeth. When dental disease reaches this point, it can cause irreversible tooth loss that can affect your pet’s quality of life. They will also require treatment for the infection.
It is the infection associated with dental disease that is particularly concerning for owners. Studies show that the bacteria found in plaque and tartar that has spread onto the gums can enter the bloodstream and pass around the body, reaching vital organs and body systems and putting them at risk. Some studies show that advanced dental disease could be responsible for increasing a pet’s risk of developing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. Taking care of your pet’s teeth could prevent that from happening.
Tooth loss is another potential problem facing animals who don’t have proper dental care. This usually occurs because the structures that support the teeth become damaged beyond repair.
To learn more about the importance of pet dental care, contact Border Animal Hospital in Weslaco, TX at (956) 968-3858 to schedule a pet dental exam.