The Most Overlooked Problem in Pets: Teeth & Gums

Your dog's dental health... It's a special day and you've just brought your new puppy home from the breeder. His sweet puppy breath and soft fur is a promise for a long and healthy life. You hope that routine wellness will be all your new pup needs for some time to come, but you can't help but wonder what might develop and what are the most common warning signs of a problem. It's no surprise that the top three pet insurance claims are for dog ear infections, skin infections, and allergies.

Also common, are digestive and intestinal problems in both dogs and cats, such as diarrhea, constipation, and loose stool. We hear frequently from pet owners who are back and forth to the vet's office over these chronic and frustrating conditions. But, what you may not know is that, over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some level of dental disease by the age of 3. Because of the progressive nature, dental issues in pets are often overlooked until they are well advanced. Left unwatched, a dental problem can lead to liver, kidney, heart damage, and present costly and painful dental extraction. The good news here is that dental disease can be easily managed and prevented with routine oral care. Regular dental check-ups by your vet are recommended here, at least once per year. Just like humans, tartar build up can be detrimental to dental health and needs to be removed by your veterinarian. This procedure requires anesthesia.

Signs of a gum or periodontal problem:

  • Tartar buildup on the tooth surface.
  • Halitosis, or bad dog breath.
  • Change in gum line or black spots at the gum line.
  • Change in chewing habits.  When your dog has a sudden lack of interest in chew toys or crunchy treats, take notice.

Keep your pet's teeth clean by maintaining a daily dental hygiene routine and examine your pet's teeth on a regular basis. The key is to inhibit bacterial growth in the mouth. There are a number of products available on the market made just for pet oral health, such as enzymatic rinses and bacterial inhibitors. Never use human toothpaste or products on your dog or cat as these products can make your pet sick. When in doubt, ask your vet for some techniques on how to brush your pet's teeth, or read our article that offers tips in dog dental hygiene.

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