Keep Your Pets Happy and Healthy with Proper Dental Care
You could narrow down pet care into two broad categories: their happiness and their health. Taking care of your pet's happiness is obviously the fun and easy part, but taking care of their health can be trickier. One aspect that often gets overlooked is your pet's dental care.
Dental care is an essential part of caring for any pet. Their teeth and gums should be checked once a year during your annual vet visit, where they will notice any underlying issues, but you should keep an eye on your pet's dental health throughout the rest of the year, as well.
Oral Health Red Flags
If you suspect your pet has some dental problems, don't hesitate to contact your veterinarian. Issues that start out small can lead to a number of more serious problems down the line and if you wait until your yearly checkup, it could be too late. Here are some red flags to be on the lookout for:
- Bad breath
- Abnormal chewing or refusal to eat
- Discolored teeth or gums
- Abnormal drooling
- Bleeding from the gums
- Broken or loose teeth
- Changes in behavior with toys (less tugging, chewing, etc.)
Causes of Serious Dental Problems
There are many things that could be the cause of your pet's dental woes. Periodontal disease is one of the most common issues in cats and dogs. Similar to how it affects humans, periodontal disease starts out as gingivitis - an infection of the gums. As it becomes more serious, it can lead to severe pain and teeth falling out. This means that early detection is crucial for your pet's safety and comfort. Call your vet as soon as you start seeing inflamed gums in your pet's mouth.
Other common issues surrounding dental care include chipped teeth, cysts or tumors in the mouth, palate defects, abscesses in the mouth, and misalignment of the jaw or bite. These issues usually need a veterinarian's diagnosis, but if you keep an eye out for the red flags listed above, you can hopefully catch some of them early.
What You Can Do At Home
Caring for your pet's oral hygiene is an important part of keeping your pet's health in top shape. Disease prevention consists of some easy routines you and your family can do with your pets at home. Brush their teeth using a pet toothbrush and an appropriate pet-formulated toothpaste (the fluoride in human toothpaste can be toxic). Give them dental chews (after checking with your vet first) to help cut down plaque and tartar and to help with bad breath. Please, only give to your pet a dental chew while attended so you can monitor their safety. Some pets may need you to switch them from dry food to wet food if they are having a hard time chewing.
What We Can Do For You
At South Boston Animal Hospital, your pet's wellbeing is our top priority. We know there is a massive correlation between your pet's oral hygiene and their overall health. As soon as an infection sets in, it can be incredibly difficult to know how to get rid of it on your own. That's where we come in!
We happily offer dental cleanings and treatments for your pets along with their yearly checkup. We take digital dental images for things like broken teeth, jaw misalignments, and root problems, so you can rest assured knowing we're seeing the whole picture. We can help you decide which products are right for your animals, from food to toothpaste, and how to safely brush your pet's teeth without getting bit in the process! Contact us today at South Boston Animal Hospital and we will get you set up with an appointment to straighten out your pet's dental health and keep them the happiest they can be.
About Dr. Natalie Waggener
Dr. Natalie Waggener has 17 years of experience in emergency work and general practice in Rhode Island, Florida and Massachusetts. She has a special interest in dentistry, wellness care and rehabilitation therapy. She is currently licensed in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island.