Veterinary Blog

Pet Dental Health Month


Early Dental Care Is Essential for Your Pet

This February, celebrate Pet Dental Health Month with us!

For the whole month at Vedder Mountain Veterinary Clinic, we’re offering a special to help keep your pet’s teeth in tip-top shape: Receive 15% off your pet’s dental cleaning/scaling/polishing and get a free bag of Hill’s® Prescription Diet® t/d® pet food.

The Dangers of Poor Pet Dental Hygiene

Imagine if you never brushed your teeth or had your teeth cleaned by a dentist. How would your mouth feel? Pets can’t take care of their own dental health, which is why we need to step in.

Charlie, a 6-year-old Yorkie, had to have several teeth removed after not receiving any previous dental care. Fortunately, his owner, Janet, noticed that he had started drooling and dropping food and got him the veterinary help he needed, so he only lost 3 teeth. His owner wasn’t uncaring; she just didn’t realize how important dental care is.

Liz, on the other hand, started taking her Yorkie, Chowsie, in for dental exams when he was a year old. She brushed his teeth most days and fed him a dental diet. He started receiving annual cleanings at 2 years old, and now that he’s 11, his teeth are as healthy as ever!

When pets don’t receive regular dental care, they may need more than just a cleaning. Dental extractions may be required to remove infected teeth and make a pet’s mouth healthy again.

Pets who don’t receive proper dental care are at risk for more than just bad breath—although that’s the first sign you’ll likely notice if your pet has periodontal disease. Also referred to as dental or gum disease, periodontal disease can not only cause gum recession, infection, and tooth loss, but also changes in the heart, kidneys, and liver.

By 3 years of age, most dogs and cats have some form of periodontal disease if they aren’t receiving regular dental care.

Periodontal Disease in Pets

Plaque forms on teeth (pet and human alike) constantly. When it’s not removed regularly (through brushing), it changes into hardened tartar, which can’t be brushed away. Plaque continues to form on top of the tartar.

Eventually, if these layers of bacteria-laden tartar aren’t removed through a professional veterinary cleaning, the pet will end up with inflammation of the gums (gingivitis), which will progress to infection and loss of tooth support (advanced periodontal disease).

Signs of Dental Trouble in Pets

Contact your Vedder Mountain veterinarian if you notice:

  • Bad breath
  • Brown or yellow teeth
  • Red, swollen gums
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Reluctance or refusal to eat
  • Dropping food from the mouth
  • Excessive drooling
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Sneezing

Bad breath in pets isn’t normal. It’s almost always a sign of oral issues.

Steps to Keep Your Pet’s Mouth Healthy

  1. Schedule a Professional Dental Exam

Bringing your pet in for annual veterinary dental exams and cleanings is the first step to achieving better dental health for your dog or cat.

We use dental radiographs (x-rays) to get a true picture of what your pet’s teeth look like under the gums—not just on the surface. We can only assess around 40% of a dog or cat’s teeth by just looking at them. The rest is hidden under the gums, so we use x-rays to show us what might be lurking unseen, such as painful root disease, tooth resorption (which can affect both cats and dogs), or the extent of a cracked tooth. That way, we can be sure we’re properly treating your pet.

  1. Make Home Care a Priority

You play an essential role in your pet’s dental health. Brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the most important ways you can help keep periodontal disease at bay.

Never use human toothpaste in pets! It contains ingredients that can make your pet sick.

Although daily brushing is ideal, we understand that it may not always be possible. Fortunately, you have a number of dental products to choose from that can also help control plaque and tartar buildup in your pet:

  • Special dental diets and chews
  • Dental toys
  • Oral rinses and sprays
  • Drinking water additives
  • Dental sealants (which your pet’s vet will apply first, after a cleaning, and then need to be reapplied at home)

Not all dental products are created equal. Look for products with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) Seal of Acceptance, and ask us what products we recommend.

By being proactive about dental care, you can help protect your pet’s overall health.

Schedule Your Pet’s Dental Exam Today

At Vedder Mountain Veterinary Clinic, we’ll create an individualized dental health plan for your pet. Make an appointment today to take advantage of the 15% off dental cleanings in February.

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