What Is the Most Common Health Problem Among Pets?

Dog toothbrushThat “cat breath” or “dog breath” that your pet is exhibiting isn’t temporary – it’s a sign that something is amiss with their oral health. Gum disease or untreated dental infections pose serious health risks to animals, and it can cause them great pain, tooth loss, and potentially spread to their heart, kidneys, or other organs. Dental disease is the most common health problem among pets, but it certainly isn’t inevitable or untreatable. 

Humans brush their teeth at least twice a day (or should) in order to clean away the bacteria and food particles that adhere to their teeth and inhibit the growth of bacteria, plaque, or tartar. Animals don’t brush their teeth. Pulling out the toothbrush and toothpaste and scouring your dog’s or cat’s teeth is up to you. Your pet’s tolerance level for tooth brushing will build if you introduce the brushing early, gradually, and gently.

Is Brushing Absolutely Necessary?

Some animal nutrition companies offer what’s called “dental diets,” where the texture of the food is designed to generate a cleansing effect on the surface of the teeth as your pet eats. Chews can effectively clean the teeth by mechanically scraping the teeth or by chemically removing excess calcium in saliva that could be deposited on the teeth. Plaque-retardant products like spray, gel or dentifrice, water additive, and sealants can help prolong the beneficial effects of a professional veterinary dental cleaning.

But you should still be making an effort on your end to keep your pet’s teeth clean with brushing at home. And schedule regular dental checkups with your vet to maintain your pet’s dental health.

How Do I Know My Pet Has a Dental Problem?

Besides the telltale rotten-egg breath, you’ll know that your pet’s oral health is in jeopardy if they exhibit the following symptoms:

  • Red or swollen gums
  • Brownish teeth
  • Lost teeth
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Frequent pawing at the mouth or face
  • Spitting out hard foods or refusing to eat them

You visit the dentist every six months or so for a professional cleaning as an adult. Your animal should also undergo preventive veterinary dental care along with your efforts to keep their teeth clean at home. While many people assume it isn’t necessary for their dog or cat to receive veterinary dental care, or they may not want to incur the expense, keep in mind that treating dental disease is far more costly than maintaining your animal’s dental health. Plus, working to keep your pet’s mouth clean means you save them from unnecessary pain or discomfort.

Contact Northpointe Veterinary Hospital to schedule a dental cleaning for your pet and discuss regular at-home dental hygiene for your dog or cat. Or, should you have a mouth or tooth emergency – a pet emergency of any kind – our clinic is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1463 Live Oak Boulevard in Yuba City.