Dental disease is the most common serious ailment in cats and dogs! The incidence and severity of dental disease increases as pets age. In fact, the vast majority of cats and dogs three years of age or older have dental disease, and are in need of professional dental care.
Dental disease is very painful. Studies show that cats and dogs experience pain like we do, but actively hide their pain from us. This instinct to hide their pain protected them from predators in their original wild state, but it makes it harder for us to help our pets because we sometimes have to look for very subtle signs of pain. Protecting our pets from the agony of decaying/infected teeth and gums is one of the most important things we can do to keep our pets healthy, comfortable and happy.
When should I start a dental care routine with my pet? What do I need to do?
Dental care should begin as soon as you bring your new pet home. You can care for your pet’s oral health by:
- Providing crunchy foods, these help to prevent tartar build up, much more so than canned or soft foods. Consider feeding a dental specific diet.
- Daily tooth brushing with pet toothpaste. The earlier you begin, the more quickly your pet will come to accept or even look forward to his/her dental care.
- Giving dental treats such as Oravets, Veggiedents, or Greenies, is one of the easiest way to clean your pets teeth.
- Chew toys and rope will naturally clean a dog’s teeth as they play.
Our Vet Nurses will gladly teach you how to take care of your pet’s teeth at home to keep them their best between professional cleanings.
How often should I have my pet’s dental health checked?
Annual dental care visits are generally needed from the age of two for large dogs, one for small dogs and cats (who are more prone to early onset severe dental disease.) Caring for the teeth early and properly will prevent more severe dental disease from developing.
With proper care, dental disease is both preventable and treatable. Caught early, dental disease can often be cured. Even when caught later, effective treatment is still available to prevent the progression of the disease and prevent complications such as organ damage and further tooth loss. Sometimes owners think their pet is “too old” or “too sick” for anesthesia and dentistry, but usually the benefits of relieving the infection and pain of oral disease far outweigh the risks of the procedure. Owners are often pleasantly surprised by how young and sprightly their older pet can behave after treatment for periodontal disease.
We encourage you to book a dental health check as part of your pet’s oral health care routine.