When we think about our pets’ health, we often forget about a vital part of their well-being: dental care. The fact is that by age 4, most dogs and cats have some symptoms of periodontal (dental) disease.
It’s about more than bad breath—left untreated, poor dental hygiene can result in weight loss due to inability to eat without pain, gum inflammation and infection, and tooth loss. Advanced dental disease can affect internal organs and even shorten your pet’s life.
Symptoms of dental disease in pets include:
- Decreased appetite
- Weight loss
- Eating/chewing on one side of the mouth only
- Discolored, broken or missing teeth
- Blood in the saliva or on pet toys
- Cysts on or under the tongue
- Loose teeth
- Bleeding, red, receding or swollen gums
- Ulcerations in the back of the mouth
Treating dental disease
Brushing your cat or dog’s teeth as a part of their regular daily routine can help prevent the onset of oral decay, and your Lake Emma Animal Hospital veterinarian will be happy to show you how to get started. If your pet is not cooperative about brushing, we can recommend products such as chews and wipes that can reduce plaque and tartar build-up between cleanings.
Annual dental cleanings are an important part of your pet’s health care. Per American Veterinary Medical Association guidelines, we only perform cleanings on anesthetized pets. The process usually takes around 45 minutes and there is no need for your pet to stay with us overnight. We do require pre-anesthetic blood work to ensure your pet is healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, and we may also recommend X-rays if there are additional concerns.
A word about the less-expensive, anesthesia-free dental cleanings you may see advertised: please be aware that these cleanings can whiten teeth, but they cannot accomplish the bacterial and tartar removal around the gums, so the existing dental disease is still there. We know anesthesia can be scary, but it is necessary to ensure a full cleaning and exam of your pet’s mouth.
Have questions about dental care or want to make an appointment for your pet? Call us at 407-333-2901.