Just imagine how your mouth would feel (and smell) if you hadn't brushed your teeth in a week, a month, or even a year. Not a pleasant thought huh? Your pet has teeth just like you do and their oral health is very important!
Sometimes, it isn't always practical or easy to brush your dog or cat's teeth. Therefore, many pet owners don't do it as often as they should. But without proper dental care your pet's health can be at stake. Years of plaque buildup can lead to periodontal disease which can be painful for your pet. It may also lead to tooth abscess, loose teeth, gingivitis, bad breath, heart disease and kidney disease. That's right, all that bacteria in your friend's mouth affects other organs in their body - not just their mouth. If your pet's mouth is hurting due to poor oral health, then they probably won't be very willing to eat.
There are some things that you should try to do at home to help your pet have a healthy smile. One thing is brushing. As mentioned earlier, this is not always an easy task, but some pets tolerate it. Try to do it as often as you can! Pet toothbrushes and special pet toothpaste are available at pet stores and veterinary offices. Never use human toothpaste for your pet.
There are also a wide variety of dental chews and treats available for pets on the market. Chewing things helps scrape off tartar buildup on your pet's teeth. Rope toys are a good choice for dogs because they act like floss. Cats may not chew as much as dogs, but there are treats also available for them on the market.
Home care will help with your pet's teeth, but it will not be enough. Your pet should visit the vet every six-to-12 months. During his or her visit, the doctor can examine your pet's teeth. The doctor may recommend a teeth cleaning procedure be performed under anesthesia.
Many people are reluctant to have their pet put under anesthesia just to have their teeth cleaned. The benefits of having your pet's teeth cleaned far outweigh the risks in most cases. For your pet's safety, many veterinary clinics run a blood panel prior to anesthesia and place an IV catheter.
While your pet is under anesthesia, a technician will usually scale and polish their teeth. The doctor can chart the teeth and note any problems that may need additional care. Your pet may have dental x-rays taken, which can help identify more problems such as abscesses. If your pet needs to have teeth extracted, don't worry, most pets do fine without them. Finally the technician can apply a fluoride treatment to your pet's teeth. All while being closely monitored.
So maybe it's time for you to start paying a little more attention to your pet's mouth. Just putting yourself in their shoes should be enough motivation. Just remember to brush regularly and visit the vet on at least an annual basis.