February brings more than Valentine’s Day. It’s also Pet Dental Health Month, when we celebrate our pets’ playful licks and sloppy kisses and, most importantly, ensure their mouths remain healthy and pain-free. While a little doggy breath might be endearing, ignoring oral health can lead to periodontal disease, which is a serious issue for pets. The disease affects up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats by age 2 and can cause severe pain and tooth loss, and can put their overall well-being at risk.
Let’s shed light on periodontal disease and how Flora Family Vet can help keep your pet’s smile sparkling and healthy.
Periodontal disease signs in pets
While persistent halitosis can be a telltale sign, dental problems aren’t always so obvious, so you should watch closely for subtle clues. Signs that may indicate trouble beneath the (gum) surface include:
- Changes in eating habits — Is your pet suddenly struggling with their kibble, favoring softer foods, or dropping pieces altogether? Difficulty chewing because of sore gums or loose teeth could be the reason behind their changed appetite.
- Pawing at the face — If your pet is frequently pawing at their muzzle or rubbing their face against furniture, they may be trying to soothe the discomfort of irritated gums or dental pain.
- Lethargy and loss of playfulness — If your usually energetic pet suddenly prefers to nap rather than play, they may have dental pain, which can sap their energy and dampen their playful spirit.
- Vocalization changes — Unusual yelping, whimpering, or different meowing during mealtime or playtime could hint at mouth pain or discomfort while your pet is chewing.
- Facial swelling — In severe periodontitis cases, infections can spread to the jawbone, causing noticeable swelling around the muzzle or under the eyes. Don’t wait for this stage—early intervention is key!
Periodontal disease risks for dogs and cats
Ignoring your pet’s dental problems can have far-reaching consequences beyond bad breath and painful chewing. Bacteria from food and debris left in the mouth form a film (i.e., plaque) that becomes tartar, which causes an infection that affects the teeth and can enter the bloodstream, travel to vital organs, and cause severe complications, such as:
- Heart disease — The inflammation from the bacteria can damage heart valves and contribute to various cardiovascular issues, putting strain on your pet’s overall health.
- Kidney and liver disease — The spread of bacteria can also affect the kidneys and liver, compromising function and potentially damaging these vital organs.
- Weakened immune system — Chronic inflammation associated with untreated dental problems can weaken the immune system and leave your pet more susceptible to other illnesses and infections.
Preventing pet periodontal disease
Ben Franklin said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”—which is definitely true about periodontal disease. By incorporating these simple steps in your pet’s routine, you can significantly reduce their risk of dental woes:
- Regular at-home toothbrushing — At least three times per week, brush your pet’s teeth with a pet-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste. Start slowly, and make the experience positive with frequent treats and praise.
- Choosing VOHC-approved dental chews — Chews with the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval are proven to effectively remove plaque and tartar. Look for soft options, and remember that moderation is key.
- Dietary considerations — Consult with your veterinarian about specifically formulated dental health diets. Dry kibble can help clean teeth as your pet chews, while certain treats can promote fresh breath and overall oral hygiene.
- Regular dental checkups — Schedule annual wellness exams, including dental checkups, with your veterinarian. You may be diligent with home dental care, but regular professional cleanings are necessary to remove stubborn plaque and tartar buildup and to allow your veterinarian to identify any potential issues early on.
Pet periodontal disease: Let us help
This February, prioritize your pet’s oral health and gift them with a radiant smile and pain-free mouth. Flora Family Vet is dedicated to ensuring your pet receives top-notch dental care by catering to their individual needs with:
- Gentle examinations — Our compassionate team handles your pet with care and understanding during their dental checkup, ensuring a stress-free experience.
- Safe, effective cleanings — We use the latest technology and techniques, including safe anesthesia, to remove plaque and tartar efficiently and thoroughly.
- Personalized dental care plans — We tailor each plan based on your pet’s specific needs and lifestyle to help ensure optimal lifelong oral health.
Don’t let dental problems steal your pet’s smile and affect their general well-being. Schedule an appointment at Flora Family Vet in February and let our dedicated team help ensure your furry companion enjoys a healthy, pain-free mouth during Pet Dental Health Month and beyond.