Cavities may be the most common dental problem affecting humans, but for our pets, it is periodontal disease that really threatens the condition and longevity of their teeth. Like our own version of the condition, pet dental disease occurs when plaque that has formed on their teeth irritates the gum tissue. When this happens, your pet’s body tries to fight it by producing white blood cells to break down the gum tissue. As a result, your pet will develop sore, swollen gums, destroyed gum tissue, infection and eventually tooth loss.
Dental disease is so prevalent in pets that 1 in 3 will show some degree of the condition by the time they reach 3 years of age. The only way to keep periodontal disease at bay is to ensure that you brush his teeth regularly – daily if possible – and take other steps to look after his oral health.
Why is dental disease a serious problem for my pet?
Many people mistakenly believe that dental disease only has consequences for their pet’s teeth and mouth. While these areas are certainly the first to be affected, and while no caring owner wants to see their furbaby suffering unnecessary pain and debilitating dental problems such as tooth loss, there are other serious consequences around the corner too. The infection that begins in your gums as a result of dental disease can spread around your pet’s body, sending bacteria to his major body organs. Studies have shown an irrefutable connection between the development of dental disease and other, general health conditions. Many of these are significant, requiring medication and lifelong management, with examples including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease. Left untreated, dental disease could put the health of your furbaby at risk.
What are the symptoms of dental disease in pets?
Since your furbaby can’t tell you that they are suffering from dental disease and its associated effects, he is relying on you as his vigilant and committed owner to figure it out yourself by recognizing the symptoms of the condition. Unfortunately, this can be easier said than done since in the early stages of the condition, your pet may not present with any symptoms at all. Often, by the time that you will realize that your pet may be suffering from gum disease the condition may be fairly well advanced. At this point, the symptoms that your pet might experience could include:
- Bleeding gums
- Gums that seem red, swollen and sore
- Difficulty picking up food
- Blood in his water bowl or on his chew toys
- Persistent bad breath
- Teeth that seem loose
- Bumps or lumps in his mouth
- Making noises when he eats or yawns
- Going out of his way to avoid his head being touched
- Loss of appetite
- Chewing on one side of his mouth
- Nasal discharge
- Obvious pain/discomfort
Preventing dental disease in pets
As we have mentioned, the only real way to keep dental disease at bay is to focus on doing everything that you can to keep your pet’s teeth as healthy as possible and preventing the spread of bacteria onto the gums. There are various things that you can do, including:
- Brushing your pet’s teeth every day. Use a special pet toothpaste (human toothpaste is poisonous to animals) and a soft brush and make brushing his teeth part of his daily routine.
- Offering chew toys and dental treats. These stimulate saliva production – your pet’s natural defence against dental problems. Some are also abrasive and when chewed they perform a cleaning action against his teeth.
- Visit your vet for dental check-ups and professional cleans fairly regularly. Your vet can spot the signs of dental disease early. They can also sedate your pet so that they can perform a through, professional-grade clean of his teeth.
If you are concerned that your pet may be suffering from dental disease, don’t delay getting the help that he needs and deserves. Contact our office to schedule your pet’s dental assessment today.