Have you looked inside of your pet’s mouth lately? It seems like an strange thing to do, but it is a necessary step towards proper pet healthcare. Oral disease is the most common diagnosis in patients of small animal clinics. Studies show that as many as 80% of dogs and 70% of cats develop signs of periodontal disease or gingivitis before they are three years old. Without regular cleaning both at home and professionally, bacteria and plaque can build up on the teeth and gums. This can lead to bad breath and gingivits; also bacteria can get into your pet’s blood stream and cause damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. The good news is that oral diseases are almost entirely preventable, and, with the help of our staff at Citrus Animal Clinic, are treatable when they are addressed quickly. Regular dental exams and home care for your pets can help you keep oral disease at bay, which in turn can increase the time you have with your pet.
Even though your pets can’t talk to you, there are lots of ways that they can tell you that it is time for action. Remember when your puppy or kitten’s shiny white new adult teeth came in? Now lift your pet’s lips and take a peek at the teeth and gums. If those pearly whites seem more yellow than white and the gums are swollen or inflamed, you are looking at plaque and tarter buildup. If the gums are red or bleeding your pet may have gingivitis, or the beginnings of more severe periodontal disease. Without proper treatment this can lead to oral pain or tooth loss, and that can keep your pet from wanting to eat. A few signs that your pet may have dental disease are loss of appetite, excessive drooling, and loose teeth.
The best defense against dental disease is a good offense. Imagine what might happen if you had not seen a dentist until you were 20! Start by having your pet’s teeth and gums examined and professionally cleaned. A dental exam and cleaning should become part of your pet’s regular veterinary visits. In between cleanings, you can help keep teeth fresh and bright by starting an oral home-care plan. This can include brushing, special dietary aides, and other techniques to help to keep your pet healthy year round. Be sure to stick with toothpastes in flavors and formulas made especially for pets. At your next visit, Citrus Animal Clinic will be happy to provide a hands-on lesson in giving good home dental care for your pet.