More and more, the field of veterinary medicine is recognizing the role oral hygiene plays in an animal’s overall health. Our pets are just as susceptible to tooth problems as we are. However, many pet owners have a hard time accepting the need for preventive pet dental care, although few of us question our own annual cleanings and exams.
View a video about Pearl, a Sheltie that suffered irreversible kidney damage due to an untreated tooth infection despite regular vet visits.
It’s been said that dogs’ teeth function as fingers and hands do for us. Maintaining teeth and a healthy bite is critical to your dog’s welfare. At Countryside Veterinary Hospital, we provide:
- Basic oral health exams
- Preventive at-home pet dental care instruction
- Professional cleaning
If your pet requires advanced dental care (root canals, pulpectomies, bonding, etc.), we will refer you to The Pet Hospital of Madison.
Answers to Your Questions on Dog & Cat Dental Health
- Q. Is it really necessary to brush my pet’s teeth—I’ve never done it for any other pet I’ve had?
- A: The importance of dental health to your pet’s overall health is an emerging trend in animal health care. So it is not surprising that you’ve not tended to your pet’s teeth in the past. Mouth infections and dental disease is dangerous to other systems in the body. So yes, it is important to keep your pet’s teeth clean and plaque-free.
- Q: My pet uses chew toys—don’t they clean the teeth?
- A: Many chew toys are good for removing tartar or massaging the gums, but that does not address periodontal disease.
- Q: How do I know if my pet has dental disease?
- A: With regular exams and wellness appointments, we hope to prevent dental problems. However, signs of dental disease include:
- Persistent bad breath
- Reluctance to chew toys or hard food
- Dropped food while eating
- Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
- Chattering teeth
- Q: Do dogs and cats get cavities?
- A: Cavities are rare, but periodontal disease is much more common. Cats and dogs can also get infections, abscesses, and experience tooth loss. A common problem in cats, which is similar to cavities, is F.O.R.L., or feline oral resorptive lesions. These lesions are sterile, unlike cavities (which are caused by bacteria), but are as painful as cavities and can cause complete destruction of the tooth.
- Q: Do pets really need surgical dental cleanings and X-rays?
- A: By the age of 3, most pets have some degree of dental disease. Since few pets would cooperate during a thorough dental exam, most pets have a surgical dental procedure in their future. And since 70% of gum disease is below the gum line, X-rays are important.
Read more about pet dental health at HealthyPet.com.