February-Pet Dental Health Month

dog brushing .jpgYour Pet's Dental Health Is Important

Sometimes, clients at our Springfield vet office think we go a little overboard about pet dental health. But the simple fact is that healthy teeth and gums are important for your pets. “Dog breath”  isn’t just stinky—it’s an indicator that bacteria are active in the pet’s mouth…causing gum disease and tooth decay.  And yes, cats’ breath can get foul, too, and their teeth and gums can also become diseased.

While the pet industry has designated February as Dental Awareness Month for Pets, we are on the lookout for dental disease every time your bring your pet in for a checkup.

At every visit, you’ll notice that we document the grade of each pet’s teeth on a scale of 1-4; this helps you plan your follow-up care accordingly. 

When we tell you that your pet has Stage 1 dental disease, we mean that there is some early disease starting to show up on the teeth. We are seeing yellow or brown plaque and inflamed, swollen gums. If we start treatment now, it will be easier to treat, less stressful on your pet, and less expensive.

Stage 2 is somewhat more advanced disease, but once we move on to Stages 3 or 4, we’re past just a routine cleaning. Now you’re looking at surgery with extractions. And Stage 4 is advanced disease, with bacteria destroying gums, teeth and bone. If the disease has progressed this far, we sometimes needs to remove teeth damaged beyond recovery. Unlike humans, there are no false teeth for your pets. Chewing becomes more difficult. And aside from the health issues, it’s particularly hard on dogs, who generally love to eat and enjoy chewing on toys.  

Home Care Really Helps

Check your pet’s mouth every few weeks. Flip the lip to start, and look for staining on teeth, red or bleeding gums. Your dog’s breath should be fairly neutral. If your pet is drooling, bypassing  dry food, having a hard time chewing or pawing at his mouth, you’re seeing signs of gum and tooth disease. Missing and broken teeth are also signs of dental disease.

It’s Just Common Sense

Pet teeth aren’t much different than our own, and like ours, need brushing. Plaque begins to form on pet teeth shortly after eating, and as it builds it hardens to form tartar which eventually works its way under the gum line where it can cause irreversible damage. Both dogs and cats need to have their teeth brushed daily. And you can make it a pleasant experience for both of you. Take it slowly, praise your pet as you work together. Ask us for more information during your next visit.

Special Diets Might Be the Answer

On the other hand, if your pet simply will not allow you to brush his teeth, or you just don’t have the time or patience, Hill's Science Diet T/D is your next best option. This healthy, nutritious pet food is formulated to scrape the plaque off your pet’s teeth with every bite. We're happy to say that we have witnessed remarkable results when our clients have used this food for their pets. Some also offer it as a treat, with really positive results. Dental treats such as Greenies, CET chews and Nylabones are helpful, too, and most pets love them. But never give your dog real bones – it’s easy to crack a tooth gnawing one.

 Ready to help your pet have the healthiest mouth in the neighborhood?