Imagine what your teeth would look like after years of not brushing. It’s not a pleasant visual but is a reality for our pets. Dental disease is an issue that can often go over looked. It’s common for humans not to consider their pets’ teeth like they do their own. However, the risks involved when our furry companions’ teeth go un-cared for can be very serious. Periodontal disease can lead to infection of the blood causing heart disease, kidney disease, or liver disease. It can also lead to infection of the mouth, making it very painful for our pets to chew.
If dental disease is diagnosed by a veterinarian, your pet will have to undergo anesthesia and a dental cleaning with possible tooth extractions, depending on the severity. As one can imagine, the bill for a procedure like this can be very costly, but is crucial to your beloved cat or dog’s health. Dr. Mekler, Veterinarian at Boston Veterinary Care, warns us that, “Dental disease can allow bacteria to get under the gum line, which can cause a sinus abscess. When this occurs it can be an emergency situation. When it comes to the gums, red means pain!” Luckily there are many steps we as owners can take in order to prevent periodontal disease.
Dr. Davis, Veterinarian at Boston Veterinary Care, shares some advice on helping to prevent dental disease. “Brush your pet’s teeth! T/D does work.” (T/D stands for “tooth diet” and is a prescription brand of food by Hills Science Diet made specifically to help control the tartar that builds on the teeth). Dr. Davis adds that, “At this point water additives have not proven to be effective – but are undergoing clinical trials. The best way to maintain good health and avoid periodontal disease is to brush routinely. The recommended amount of brushing is every day- and at the very least, every 48 hours. Brushing any less than every 48 hours is not effective.”
For some pets, brushing their teeth may be a challenge. Dr. Mekler suggests slowly introducing brushing. This is a life time prevention and if it takes months to get your pet comfortable with it, that’s okay! Some ways to go about this are simply finding a pet tooth paste that your pet enjoys and considers a treat. Start by getting your pet used to having their teeth touched and use your finger as the tooth brush. As your pet gets used to this, you can then begin to introduce a tooth brush. You can find one at your local pet store or veterinary clinic. For our treat motivated pets, you can also incorporate a reward to help make this process easier and fun for your pet!
If you think your pet suffers from dental disease, you should see a veterinarian immediately. If your pets’ teeth are not yet a problem, then it’s important to keep them that way. Most importantly, Dr. Shophet of Boston Veterinary care reminds us to “Brush, brush, brush!”