Halitosis is not normal in your dog or cat. Bad breath is a sure sign that your pet has either well established gingivitis, or deeper periodontal disease. Absolutely, the most overlooked chronic infection in our pets is dental disease. This brewing infection is not only capable of causing both acute and chronic pain, but has far reaching effects on your pet’s major organ function and longevity.
If you see redness of the gums, tartar on the teeth and smell a foul odour, your pet needs your help. One of our veterinarians can perform an evaluation of your pet’s oral cavity and schedule a dental appointment. The safest and most effective dental procedure will include a pre-dental exam with appropriate blood tests, IV fluid therapy and body warming support, vital signs monitored, dental X-rays, and complete cleaning and polishing of your pet’s teeth. The risks of anesthesia are greatly reduced with proper care and the benefits far outweigh the risks for the extreme majority of our pets. As veterinarians, our goal is to work with you to provide the most comfortable and longest life possible for your pet.
Knowing that our pets age much faster than we do, would you let years go by between visits to the dentist or effective home hygiene? Probably not! It is a fact that your pet’s dental health is just as important to their overall health as your dental health is to your general health. To assist veterinary professionals in providing excellent dental care for pets and to educate pet owners about the importance of proper dental care throughout their pets’ lives, the American Animal Hospital Association has developed the AAHA Dental Care Guidelines for Dogs and Cats. Major highlights of these guidelines are covered in this article. (Link to AAHA site)
Dental care for dogs and cats is one of the most commonly overlooked areas of pet health care. In fact, a recent AAHA study showed that:
Fido’s dog breath and Tabby’s tuna breath aren’t something to be ignored. Foul breath usually indicates an oral problem, and the sooner you have it treated by your veterinarian, the sooner you and your pet can smile proudly. Periodontal disease is an infection of the tissue surrounding the teeth that takes hold in progressive stages. It starts out as a bacterial film called plaque. The bacteria then attach to the teeth. When the bacteria die they can be calcified by the calcium in saliva. This forms a hard, rough substance called tartar, or calculus, which allows more plaque to accumulate. Initially, plaque is soft and brushing or chewing hard food and toys can dislodge it. If left to spread, plaque can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums, causing them to become red and swollen and to bleed easily. As plaque and calculus develop below the gum line, professional cleaning will be needed to help manage it. If the plaque and tartar buildup continues unchecked, infection can form around the root of the tooth. In the final stages of periodontal disease, the tissues surrounding the tooth are destroyed, the bone and tissue supporting the tooth erodes and the tooth becomes loose. This is a very painful process for your four-legged friend, but these problems can be averted before they even start.
There are two critical components of your pet’s veterinary dental care: oral examinations and dental hygiene. Veterinary dental care begins at the puppy and kitten life stage. AAHA recommends that veterinarians evaluate puppies and kittens for problems related to the deciduous (baby) teeth, missing or extra teeth, swellings, and oral development. As your pet ages, we will look for developmental anomalies, the accumulation of plaque and tartar, periodontal disease and oral tumors. Veterinarians can perform a basic oral examination on patients that are awake. However, a short-lasting anesthetic is required in order to provide a complete and thorough examination, full-mouth dental x-rays, as well as dental cleanings. The AAHA Dental Care Guidelines recommend regular oral examinations and dental cleanings under general anesthesia for all adult dogs and cats. The AAHA recommends these procedures at least annually starting at one year of age for cats and small-breed dogs, and at two years of age for large-breed dogs. The guidelines further recommend the following:
Remember… pets can live longer, healthier lives if oral health care is managed and maintained throughout their lives. Talk to us about developing a dental care plan for your pet friend.