Confession time, pet lovers – when was the last time you checked your furry friend’s chompers? You might not know this, but untreated dental disease is a huge epidemic in the pet population; in fact, 80% of cats and dogs age 4 and over actually have oral issues that need treatment by a vet!
Maybe you think that your pet’s teeth aren’t that bad – smelly breath is pretty normal for cats and dogs, right? Well, think again. A stinky odor coming from your pet’s mouth is actually one of the first and most obvious signs of tooth trouble, and it often just gets worse from there. Just like in humans, dental plaque can build up on our pet’s teeth, causing sore, red or bleeding gums; this is gingivitis, the first stage of dental disease. Next, that sticky plaque binds with minerals in your dog or cat’s saliva, turning the plaque into hard, yellow tartar that trap bacteria, causing gum recession, tooth pain, loose teeth, and even tooth loss – ouch!
But wait – that’s not all.
There’s an even worse consequence; left untreated, tooth disease can actually lead to a serious dental infection, not only causing pain for your pet, but also spreading bad bacteria through their bloodstream to other organs like the heart and kidneys, causing long-term damage over time. So even though you may think that your pet’s yellow teeth are no big deal, dental disease poses huge risks for your dog or cat’s overall health.
So what are the signs of tooth trouble in our pets? Since they can’t actually tell us they have a toothache, here’s what to watch for:
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Yellow staining on teeth
- Having trouble eating or unchewed food
- Avoids touching around mouth or on their head
- Missing teeth
- Change in behavior
Luckily, taking care of your dog or cat’s oral health is easier than it looks – just a few minutes of daily care can save your pet from a painful condition, and eases the cost of vet bills for you, too! First and foremost, tooth brushing is, paws down, the most effective way to get rid of dental plaque. Get your pet used to daily brushing from the time they’re puppies or kittens. Using products like Greenies or other dental chew treats can be helpful too, since they help to scrape some of that nasty plaque away as well – just follow the feeding instructions closely to make sure your pet’s not getting too many extra calories.
Finally, don’t forget to bring your furry friend to the vet for regular checkups to make sure you’re not missing other medical issues. Taking a few minutes out of each day for some toothy health prevention will leave everyone smiling!