Dental Health

Dog and Cat Oral Health Care

Dental disease is epidemic in cats and dogs

In a 2011 Ipsos Reid report on pet wellness, it is clear that pet guardians are not getting the message about the importance of dental care. Veterinarians surveyed in the report said dental disease was the most commonly diagnosed health problem that pet guardians were surprised to hear about.

And next to weight control, vets cited dental care as one of the most important things a pet guardian can do to increase the length of a pet’s life, yet only 16% of pet guardians said they were interested in learning more about the topic.

In North America, it’s estimated that about 70 per cent of cats and 80 per cent of dogs three years of age and older have some form of dental disease. Taking care of your pets’ teeth can not only add years to their life, but can prevent more serious health problems such as infections and heart disease. A healthy mouth can also save you money on veterinary care.

Where do dental health problems start?

Oral health problems start as plaque, a sticky, colourless film, that builds up on your pets’ teeth and around the gum line. Plaque left on the teeth hardens to create tartar, which can’t be removed through brushing alone. As more plaque and tartar accumulates, your pets’ gums can become red and swollen — a condition known as gingivitis.

If nothing is done to remove the tartar, the roots of the teeth may become infected and eventually the bone and tissue surrounding the teeth erode and the tooth becomes loose. This is an irreversible condition called periodontal disease and can be a very painful for your pet.

With that said, it makes sense that in order to prevent serious dental disease, you need to stay on top of plaque and tartar build up on your pets’ teeth.

How fast plaque and tartar build up on your pets’ teeth depends on several things:

  • The older your pet is the higher the risk of plaque and tartar build up.
  • The breed of dog or cat: Poodles, Maltese, Yorkshire Terriers, Shelties and Pomeranians are more prone to dental disease as are Persians, Siamese, Abyssinians, Maine Coons and Somalis.
  • Your pets’ diet: if your pets eat a high-carbohydrate diet containing rice, corn, wheat, tapioca or potatoes, their teeth will need to be cleaned more frequently.
  • The amount of saliva your pet produces: saliva helps to wash away food and plaque so the more the better.

Regularly checking your pet’s teeth and gums for any signs of trouble is another way to ensure a healthy mouth. A trip to the vet is in order if you see any of the following signs:

  • bad breath
  • inflamed gums (red, swollen)
  • excessive drooling
  • unusual lumps on the gums or under the tongue
  • loose or bleeding teeth
  • plaque and/or tartar build up on the teeth
  • discoloured teeth

Read More About Oral Health