Your Pet’s Dental Health

Written by Deneen Fasano, DVM and Teresa Cardenas, RDH

Dental disease is a common problem in pets. Approximately 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease before they are 3 years of age.

The progression of oral disease in your pet starts with a biofilm (a sticky substance) which forms on the teeth. Bacterial by-products attach to the biofilm and this is called plaque. This bacterial plaque causes inflammation of the gums or gingiva which is called gingivitis. If the plaque is not removed, it hardens within 24-48 hours and that’s how tartar is formed. Tartar is the hard, brown substance that adheres to the teeth causing the gum tissue (gingiva) to get further inflamed and infected. If the tartar is left on the teeth, it will eventually destroy the bone that holds the teeth in place. This is called periodontal disease and will eventually lead to tooth loss and other health problems.

Because of the rich blood supply in the mouth, infection of the gingiva can cause bacteria to be carried throughout your pet’s body and settle in organs such as the heart, kidneys and liver. This can cause many serious health problems in pets such as congestive heart failure, kidney infection and bacterial hepatitis.

Common Symptoms of Dental Disease in Pets:

  • Bad breath or odor from the mouth
  • Yellow/brown tartar buildup on teeth
  • Bleeding from the gums
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite
  • Swollen, and red gums
  • Chronic sinus problems
  • Nasal discharge
  • Difficulty eating
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Visible pus or discharge
  • Signs of blood on toys and food

To help prevent dental disease, take your pet for regular dental exams and cleanings.

Things you can do at home:

  • Regular brushing with a pet toothpaste
  • Feed a good meat-based diet
  • Dental treats such as bully sticks, greenies
  • Raw bones
  • Raw carrots

For more information contact:

Dr Deneen Fasano at Animal Healing Solutions

For information about non-anesthetic dental cleanings contact:
Teresa Cardenas RDH with Sparkling K9s at Animal Healing Solutions

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