Pet dental health is a crucial ingredient in maintaining a healthy life for your furry loved ones. Not only can dental health problems affect the rest of their bodies, but they can also make it much more difficult for them to eat and get the nutrients they need.
Dental Health Month
February is National Pet Dental Health Month. The AVMA created this month-long event to help raise awareness and promote the importance of pet dental health. Sometimes a problem is difficult to notice, and you find it when it’s too late, with your pet already in discomfort to the point where they have stopped eating.
Why Dental Health is Important
Teeth are very important to your pet’s overall health. Pets that have problems with their teeth and gums are prone to suffer serious heart, liver, and kidney problems as they age.
Pets can also suffer from broken teeth. Chewing on hard toys and treats like antlers and bones can break your dog or cat’s teeth. A broken tooth can expose the tooth’s nerve, which is very painful for your pet. Additionally, the exposed nerve can become infected and cause even more problems for your pet. At this point, the tooth will need to be removed.
Signs of Dental Problems
Regardless of any problems, your pet’s teeth should be checked at least once a year by your veterinarian for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
Have your pet’s teeth checked sooner if you observe any of the following problems:
- Bad breath
- Broken or loose teeth
- Extra teeth or retained baby teeth
- Teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar
- Abnormal chewing, drooling or dropping food from the mouth
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- Pain in or around the mouth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
Some pets become irritable when they have dental problems, and any changes in your pet’s behavior should prompt a visit to your veterinarian. Be careful when checking your pet’s mouth because pain can cause a pet to react aggressively.
Home Dental Care
In between bringing your animal to the veterinarian for dental care, you can do some things to help at home.
- Brush their teeth. Brushing your pet’s teeth may seem extreme, but it is hugely beneficial for them. In an ideal world, you would brush your pet’s teeth twice a day. If you can’t manage twice a day, do it as often as you can. As a note, never use your toothpaste on them. There are specific kinds of toothpaste made for pets such as Virbac C.E.T toothpaste. It comes in different pet flavors such as poultry, seafood, and beef. Also, brushing a dog or cat’s teeth is not the same as brushing your own teeth. Here is a great video from the AVMA on brushing your pet’s teeth.
- Use tooth wipes. Tooth wipes are a faster and easier solution than brushing their teeth, although slightly less effective.
- Give them dental treats/chews. There are many treats and chew toys that you can buy for your pet that help remove plaque and improve dental health. If you are unsure what you should get for your pet, consult with your veterinarian.
Professional Pet Dental Care
Nokomis Veterinary Service offers dental services that include teeth cleaning, polishing, and surgical extractions. All geriatric patients are carefully screened for safety and anesthetics are specifically tailored to their needs. Our veterinarians are experienced in preventing, locating, and treating any issues that might go unnoticed by even the most dedicated pet owner. It is best to do what you can at home and include professional dental care for your pet.
Feline Juvenile Gingivitis
Feline juvenile gingivitis refers to inflammation of the gums that occurs following the eruption of the permanent teeth. This condition is most frequently observed in kittens with oriental breeds. Patients suffering from juvenile gingivitis have redness, swelling, and inflammation of their gum tissue (gingiva). The cause of this disease is not known but an exaggerated inflammatory response to tooth eruption, immune-mediated and viral exposure (FIV, FeLV, Calicivirus) have all been proposed as triggers, many authors believe it is likely a multifactorial response.
Untreated juvenile gingivitis can lead to juvenile periodontitis. In this case, pockets between the gums and teeth may form, providing more space for bacteria to accumulate near the bone. With this additional buildup, the immune system goes into overdrive, attacking the teeth and gums and causing bone loss.
See your veterinarian as soon as possible for treatment if you suspect that your kitten is suffering from juvenile gingivitis.
I founded Nokomis Veterinary Service to provide high-quality, friendly care to the large and small animals of Taylorville and the surrounding communities of our Illinois area. We know the health of your pets and animals means a lot to you and your family. We want to help you keep your pet’s dental and general health in tiptop shape. Contact us to schedule dental care or any other services your pet needs.
Dr. Stacey Funderburk
Nokomis Veterinary Services