February marks National Pet Dental Health Month, and we are here to pay tribute to those pearly whites. Learn more about periodontal disease – including the warning signs, test your knowledge with a quiz, gain tips on toothbrush training, and see the newest dental products.
What is Periodontal Disease?
Periodontal disease is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. It is also the most common condition that goes unnoticed by us, pet owners. Caused by poor oral hygiene, this disease causes more than bad breath. It can lead to painful mouth conditions and make eating difficult for your dog or cat. It can also lead to more serious problems and affect internal organs.
Periodontal disease starts when bacteria in the mouth accumulate and form plaque, a sticky film that clings to the surface of teeth. If the plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva will cause the plaque to harden and form tartar. Tartar is a hard, crusty deposit that is yellow to brown in color and easily seen on your pet’s teeth. Tartar forms on the surface of the teeth, but also forms at and below the gumline where it cannot be seen. Tartar underneath the gumline can irritate gum tissue, cause infection, and lead to gum recession, loose, teeth, and bone loss.
Tartar can cause damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jaw bone. Oral exams are essential for preventing disease, and x-rays are needed in order to asses dental health below the gumline. Make an appointment with your vet if your dog or cat shows any of these warning signs.
Warning Signs of Dental Disease
- Bad breath
- Redness or swelling of the gums
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Loose or broken teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Tenderness or swelling in or around the mouth
- Dropping food from the mouth, abnormal chewing, or drooling
- Reduced appetite or refusal to eat
- Weight Loss
Veterinary Dental Care
Periodontal disease is very preventable. How? With regular dental exams from your veterinarian. Your dog or cat’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year for early signs of problems.
During an exam, they will look at your dog or cat’s teeth and gums for signs of plaque or tartar buildup, and detect any problems. Your vet will recommend a regimen based on your pet’s age, general health, and the condition of their teeth. X-rays and regular teeth cleanings are a common treatment plan for dental wellness and diseases. If a cleaning is due for your dog or cat, ask about discounts or special dental health programs during February as they’re often available during pet dental month. Learn more.
Home Dental Care
Start a regular dental regimen as early as you can. If you have a puppy or kitten, get them accustomed to opening their mouth, moving the upper and lower lips, and regular gum massages. This will help them become more accepting of regular tooth brushing and oral exams.
- Commit to your plan. Stay on schedule and follow through with your plans for the best long-term dental care. Dental hygiene is a very important part of your dog or cat’s overall health and longevity.
- Choosing Oral Hygiene Products. Talk to your veterinarian about which dental health supplies, chews, or supplements are right for your pet and how to use them. These can help you maintain your pets dental health at home between visits or cleaning, and may help prevent the formation of oral diseases. Above all, toothbrushing is the most effective method to remove plaque. It is important to choose a pet toothpaste, as human toothpaste can contain harmful ingredients. Getting your pet comfortable with toothbrushing can take time and patience. Check out the helpful video below. Dental chews, rinses, supplements, and other products also help keep teeth clean and maintain hygiene.
How much do you really know about your pet’s dental health? Take this quiz by the AVMA.
Dental Health Care Products
VetRxDirect has a wide selection of dental care products for both dogs and cats. Check out these favorites:
1-TDC, TetraDecanol Complex, is an esterified fatty acid oil that naturally supports healthy gum tissue and helps reduce the risk of periodontal disease in dogs and cats. It also works to encourage the health and function of your pet’s joints to keep them active and mobile.
Vetradent reduces bacteria in the mouth responsible for plaque and tartar formation. It is an odorless, tasteless, and colorless liquid that contains Biotrate technology to break through bacterial biofilm in the mouth. Vetradent also eliminates bad breath and maintains the dental pH balance. Use Vetradent Water Additive to fresh water, or Vetradent Spray or Wipes for the teeth and gumline.
While February is National Pet Dental Health Month, dental health should be a daily ritual for dog and cat owners all year long. How do you take care of your pet’s teeth? Leave us a comment below!