It’s the new year, and one of the resolutions you should be making is to improve your pet’s dental health from here on. Poor dental hygiene for pets can cause all sorts of problems for Fido or Kitty, not to mention the costs involved in resolving periodontal disease. It isn’t just about bad breath; it’s about preventing inflamed and swollen gums, drooling, difficulty eating that causes anorexia and loss of weight and muscle mass. It’s also about your pet being in pain, and the long-term effects can be kidney failure and even death.
Preventing dental problems
These are the worst case scenarios. However, any one of these conditions can be associated with poor dental hygiene for pets, but the good news is that it can be prevented. And if your pet already has any of the symptoms described, it’s not too late to rectify the problem and prevent it from getting worse. Dental diseases affect around 85% of all dogs and cats, and it begins younger than you think – from the age of one year old. Dr. Kadri believes you can prevent dental problems from arising long before they start by practicing good dental care for your dog or cat.
Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth isn’t as difficult as it sounds, especially if you start while they are young:
- Pet toothpastes are specially formulated to appeal to animals, so giving your pet a lick will enable him or her to get used to the taste.
- After a few days of daily licks, try putting your finger into your pet’s mouth and wiping the toothpaste along the side of the teeth.
- If your pet allows your finger in his mouth, you can progress to using a soft plastic finger toothbrush, which fits over your fingertip.
- You can also try playing a game with your pet using a toothbrush, waving it in the air and playing tug of war with it. All this will get him used to the brush and reduce any fear.
If your dog or cat already has periodontal disease, however, his or her gums could be sensitive so be careful not to hurt them.
For pets with healthy mouths and gums, we recommend routine scaling and polishing on at least an annual basis. This is done under anesthetic or sedation and costs quite a bit, so it’s best to budget ahead of time or make sure your pet insurance covers dental care. This is also a good time for Dr. Kadri to conduct a full examination of your pet’s mouth while he is sedated, which can often highlight any potential dental problems before they become serious. Dental surgery is performed to resolve issues such as Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions, which are lesions found on the outside of a cat’s tooth where the gum meets the tooth surface. These can cause the cat to experience dental pain and difficulty eating, as well as leading to chronic infections and auto-immune disorders.
Various nutritional supplements are available to help maintain healthy teeth and gums. You can get dental dog chews and treats that have a kibble-like substance from suppliers of commercial dog food, such as Royal Canin and Hills. These contain a blend of antioxidants that protect your pet against free radical damage, and the act of chewing or crunching them provides a mechanical, “scrubbing” action that cleans and polishes the teeth. You can order your pet dental nutrition directly from Richmond Hill Animal Hospital.
It goes without saying that if your pet is young, start managing his dental care as early as possible. If he already shows symptoms of a dental problem, have him examined as early as possible to prevent it from getting worse. And if he is already a sufferer of periodontal disease, find out from Dr. Kadri what you can do to improve his quality of life and eliminate or reduce the pain from his mouth.
Love your pet? Practicing good pet dental hygiene can help to prolong his life, keep him healthy and pain-free – and save you tons of money in unnecessary vet bills.