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Your Petís Dental Health

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Garden State Veterinary Specialists

Several months ago, 9-year-old Lillyís owner noticed that her dogís behavior was gradually beginning to change. Lilly had little energy and had to be urged to participate in her usual daily activities. Her owner thought that this change was just Lilly ďshowing her ageĒ. A dental exam, however, discovered that Lilly was suffering from a tooth abscess. Shortly after the procedure to remove the offending tooth, Lilly returned to a normal activity level.

This story is a good illustration of how pets can sometimes hide a health condition. Oral disease is actually the most frequently diagnosed health problem for pets. The American Veterinary Dental Society reports that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.

As a pet owner, you are the first line of defense against dental disease. If your pet will allow you, open its mouth and look inside. The signs of gum disease to look for are: bad breath, red and swollen gums, a yellow-brown crust of tartar around the gum line, and pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth. Any of these signs should prompt you to seek the care of a veterinarian for your pet.

A typical dental examination includes the following: first, the pet receives anesthesia. The petís teeth are cleaned with an ultrasonic or hand scaler. The veterinarian will then examine the mouth for loose teeth, depth of pockets, exposed roots or other signs of disease. Some teeth can be saved with cleaning and periodontal treatment while others will need to be extracted. Even one healthy tooth is better than a mouthful of diseased teeth. Lastly, itís necessary for pet owners to maintain a program of dental care at home for their pets. Without proper dental care, a petís dental condition could worsen and lead to more serious health threats, such as heart, liver and kidney disease and possibly death.

A complete home dental care program for your pet often will include brushing as well as a special pet food that helps care for their teeth while they eat. While not everyone is able to incorporate daily brushing of their petís teeth into their routine, even feeding your pet a special diet prescribed by your veterinarian may be enough to keep their teeth healthy. A word of caution: only use pet tooth products, do not use people toothpaste to brush a petís teeth since it can upset their stomach. Also avoid feeding pets table scraps because they can increase the buildup of plaque and tartar, and can lead to other health problems. In conclusion, pet owners need to remember that pets canít talk or express their pain the way humans can and often dental disease will go undetected for months; making preventative care, dental cleanings and check-ups essential.


This article is for informational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for the professional advice of your veterinarian.

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