Pay attention to your pet's teeth to prevent deadly diseases
National Pet Dental Health month, celebrated every February, is designed to raise awareness about the importance of oral health for pets.
In addition to bad breath, poor oral health can contribute to damage to the teeth and gums and periodontal disease, which can negatively impact the kidneys, liver and heart muscle.
A common form of gum disease, known as gingivitis, causes inflammation of the gums around the teeth and can serve as a warning for owners to pay attention to their pet's pearly whites before more serious conditions develop.
Gingivitis is common, and every pet has it to some degree.
Until gingivitis reaches a more advanced stage, it can be difficult for pet owners to detect it on their own, and their pet may not show any symptoms. Therefore, it is important for pets to be checked regularly by their veterinarian for signs of gingivitis.
Just like in humans, gingivitis is caused by accumulation of plaque on the tooth. This plaque is made up of food, saliva and bacteria. An interaction between these foreign bacteria and the body's immune system releases enzymes that break down gum tissue, leading to inflammation.
In more advanced stages, this can lead to chronic pain and erosion of the gums.
In addition to an increased risk of heart, kidney and liver disease, uncontrolled gingivitis can lead to missing teeth and bone loss in severe cases.
Fortunately, gingivitis can be easily prevented through routine oral care habits. Dodd recommends brushing your pet's teeth daily to remove harmful bacteria and prevent plaque buildup.
Although some pets may be reluctant to have their teeth brushed at first, over time they will become accustomed to a regular routine, Dodd says.
Special toothbrushes and toothpastes that are safe for pets can be purchased at most pet stores. When brushing your pet's teeth, never use human toothpaste because it is toxic to pets.
Pet owners can consult their veterinarian for tips on brushing their pet's teeth.
Many clinics have special deals on dental care as part of National Pet Dental Health month, so this is the perfect time to contact your veterinarian.
If a pet develops gingivitis, it can be treated through dental cleaning and debridement, or the surgical removal of damaged tissue, under anesthesia by a veterinarian.
Proper management of your pet's oral health is very important to their well-being. With routine care, owners can prevent the development of serious oral health problems and ensure the well-being of their furry friend.