People are generally aware that they should brush their teeth at least twice daily, floss regularly, and visit their dentist twice a year. Did you know many of the same ideals hold true for your pet? It is estimated that 80% of pets exhibit the beginning stages of periodontal disease by age 3, and that pets with good oral hygiene tend to live 2 to 4 years longer than pets with owners who neglect dental care. We recommend combining an at-home dental routine with annual dental exams and cleanings as needed to keep your pet loving you for as long as possible.

Bad breath is usually the first sign of periodontal disease. The same bacteria that cause bad breath, if left untreated, can spread through the bloodstream and can lead to cardiac disease, kidney infection, liver infection, or stroke.

Signs of periodontal disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Tartar buildup on the teeth
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Excessive drooling
  • Discharge from the nose
  • Dropping food
  • Pawing at the face
  • Loss of appetite or difficulty eating
  • Irritability
  • Lethargy
  • Behavior change such as depression
  • Weight loss
  • Facial swelling

Reasons for regular dental check-ups:

  • Avoid tooth loss due to periodontal disease.
  • Help your pet avert unnecessary pain.
  • Help your pet maintain healthy and functional teeth.
  • Improve foul breath.
  • Prevent potential damage to the brain, heart, liver, lungs, and kidneys.

Dental examinations

During your pet’s annual wellness exam our veterinarian will look for signs of tartar buildup and symptoms of other periodontal disease. We will discuss what you currently do at home for your pet’s dental care. We will then make recommendations for further care including a professional cleaning if necessary.

Dental cleaning

Pet dental cleanings are a surgical procedure requiring general anesthesia. As with all anesthetic procedures at Country Animal Hospital, there is a technician monitoring your pet’s vital signs using our our state-of-the-art equipment from the time of induction all the way through recovery. During your pet’s teeth cleaning, a dental technician will gently clean the surface of the teeth with an ultrasonic scaler that cleans using the vibration of sound waves and water. After scaling the teeth, the technician lightly buffs and polishes the teeth to prevent bacteria and food from sticking to the enamel. We then use a specially formulated rinse to wash bacteria from their mouth.

Tooth extractions

If your pet’s tooth becomes infected, we may need to extract the tooth to prevent the spread of the infection or to stop your pet’s pain. Tooth extractions are often a last resort. We work with pet owners to avoid extractions by providing preventative care.

After we complete your pet’s dental cleaning and treatments, we will provide you with a comprehensive analysis of your pet’s oral health. You will receive at-home oral hygiene tips specific to your pet, and if any serious dental conditions exist, you will be notified prior to any treatment planning. We will send your pet home with appropriate pain relief and antibiotics as necessary, and at discharge have a thorough conversation detailing your pet’s dental health care plan to ensure all of your questions are answered.

Home care

It is extremely important for you to have a home routine to care for your pet’s mouth. The more that you can do at home, the less frequent and invasive the professional cleanings under anesthesia need to be. There are many things a pet owner can do to provide excellent dental care for their pets, including:

  • Be aware of your pet’s oral health and check their mouth regularly
  • Daily brushing using a pet-safe toothpaste to minimize plaque buildup. Studies show you need to brush your pet’s teeth at least four times weekly to make a significant impact on their periodontal disease
  • Dental diets
  • Dental chews such as Greenies or CET Chews
  • Dental toys such as Kong Toys

The Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC, www.vohc.org) reviews dental health products (diets, treats, and accessories) to determine if they meet standards of plaque and calculus (tartar) retardation in dogs and cats. The VOHC reviews studies and determines if the products meet their claims of helping veterinary dental health; if they do, products are awarded the VOHC Seal of Acceptance which can be found on the product’s packaging.

If you would like to schedule a professional dental cleaning for your pet, call our office and allow your pet to experience a healthy smile!