Dental disease is one of the most common health concerns facing cats and dogs. Yet, many pet owners aren’t even aware that they should be taking care of their pets’ teeth. At Compassion Animal Hospital in Woodland Park, our veterinarian, Dr. Cooper, is highly committed to providing pets with comprehensive preventative care, including dental care.
Why Dental Care Is So Important for Pets
Neglecting a pet’s teeth can cause cavities, but if a pet’s oral health becomes bad enough, neglecting dental care can be fatal.
The primary reason it’s essential to care for your pet’s teeth, as you would your own (with regular hygiene and professional checkups) is preventing periodontal disease, also referred to as dental or gum disease. Periodontal disease is an infection of the gums that occurs when plaque and tartar build-up along the gum line, creating pockets between the teeth and gums, where harmful bacteria thrive.
Initially, periodontal disease causes local concerns such as redness, swelling, soreness, and bleeding gums. If left untreated, the gum infection can spread to an animal’s bloodstream, where it will damage the vital organs and harm systemic health.
Signs Your Pet Needs a Dental Appointment
We recommend scheduling a dental exam if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms in your pet:
Professional Dental Examinations and Cleanings
During a pet’s annual wellness exam, Dr. Cooper always performs a visual, surface examination of your pet’s teeth and gums to make a health assessment based on their appearance. If signs of periodontal disease are present, our veterinarian might recommend a professional cleaning and examination. A pet dental appointment includes scaling and polishing your pet’s teeth.
This process is similar to what you experience at the dentist, except pet dental appointments are carried out with the pet sedated under general anesthesia. Sometimes, we’ll also take dental x-rays to make sure there aren’t any additional problems happening inside your pet’s teeth or below the gum line.
How to Care for Your Pet's Teeth at Home
While a professional cleaning can do wonders to restore a cat or dog’s gum health, it’s essential to maintain a good oral hygiene regimen at home between professional appointments. We recommend brushing your pet’s teeth weekly, using specially formulated pet toothpaste and a toothbrush designed to accommodate a cat’s or dog’s mouth. In addition to brushing at home, you can also provide your pet with dental-friendly treats and chew toys that will help break up tartar and remove plaque from your pet’s teeth.