Without proper dental care, humans readily develop tooth decay and gum disease—two common problems that can eventually lead to tooth loss. These same health issues affect animals. Whether you have a canine or a feline, your faithful companion needs regular dental check-ups at the veterinary office. Your veterinarian can also show you how to brush your pet’s teeth at home. The younger your pet is when you start brushing teeth, the easier it will be to do.
Common Dental Problems in Pets
Dental disease is very common in dogs and cats, even though it’s often preventable. Dental disease can progress in the following way:
- Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, forms on the teeth
- Plaque hardens into tartar
- Tartar inflames and irritates the gums
- The gums become infected (gingivitis)
- Gingivitis turns into periodontal disease
- Periodontal disease damages the tissues that surround and anchor the teeth
- Teeth loosen and can fall out
In addition, pets can be susceptible to developing dental abscesses and oral cysts. Without proper oral care, dental disease causes pets to suffer pain and discomfort, and to have trouble maintaining good nutrition.
Schedule of Dental Exams
As a general rule of thumb, veterinarians recommend scheduling a dental exam for your pet at least once per year. If your pet has a history of dental disease, he or she may benefit from more frequent check-ups. You should also keep an eye out for signs of potential problems. Take your pet back to the vet’s office right away if you notice any of the following:
- Persistent bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Broken teeth
- Chewing problems/dropping food
- Excessive drooling
- Refusal to eat or reduction in food intake
- Visible tartar or discoloration
- Swelling or bleeding of the mouth
Complete dental care for your dog or cat is available at Horizon Animal Hospital. Our compassionate veterinarians encourage pet parents to make regular appointments for cleanings, but we also provide dental extractions when necessary. You can call our veterinary practice in Scottsdale at (480) 800-4559.