Why is Pet Dental Care Important?
There has been growing awareness for the need for pet dental cleaning and pet teeth hygiene, and for good reasons that loving pet owners in Vancouver need to know about!
Routine pet dental care can be a quick gauge of your pet’s overall health, and facilitate the early detection of dental diseases that can affect and have serious implications that may lead to other health issues, such as kidney, lung and heart diseases.
Having good pet dental hygiene is just as important – perhaps even more important for pets than it is for us. Can you Imagine having lived the past 5-10 years of your life without having brushed your teeth? And yet, pet teeth cleaning is one of the the areas that has been consistently neglected by many pet owners.
Studies by the American Veterinary Dental Society have indicated that over 70% of cats and 80% of dogs suffer from dental diseases by the age of 3, and is the number one most common health problem found in pets. Tartar (a brown or yellow mineral) gradually builds up on the teeth and along and below the gumline of cats and dogs.
Although tartar above the gumline can be easily seen and removed, plaque and tartar below the gumline can be damaging and expose the more vulnerable roots of the teeth, setting the stage for an infection. Bad breath and toothaches may occur as a consequence. If unattended, severe infections may lead to the development of cheek ulcers and tooth decay.
Furthermore, mouth-related dental diseases can lead to health issues in other parts of the body. As the oral cavity is one of the most germ-ridden places, bacteria can easily enter the pet’s bloodstream through the infected or tooth rot, causing life-threatening infections in other organs with dire consequences.
For instance, bacteria that manages to travel into and infect the heart valves or its lining will result in inflammations, which can lead to heart failure in death if not treated immediately. Both cats and dogs can also suffer from kidney damage and joint-related issues due to bacterial infection.
We stress that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, hence be sure to have routine pet dental examinations! To stress the importance of ongoing pet dental care and maintenance, we have created an infographic highlighting the facts in a more colorful manner.
What are the Common Dental Problems in Pets?
We highlight some of the common dental problems that can be found in cats and dogs:
- Plaque and tartar buildup
- Periodontal disease – one of the most common dental problems in cats and dogs, where early detection is critical to prevent long-term damage to other organs
- Bad breath – this is an early sign of dental disease, and is common in pets
- Systemic illnesses – such as kidney, joint and heart disease
- Stomatitis – more common in cats, this is the inflammation of the pet’s oral mucous membranes
- Broken teeth and tooth roots
- Infected teeth
- Extra teeth – usually retained baby teeth, and are more common in small dog breeds
- Tumors or cysts in the pet’s mouth
- Fractured or broken jaw
- Birth-related palate defects – such as cleft lip and cleft palate
Does my dog have dental disease? How to know when my dog needs dental treatment?
There are some common signs to look out for as an indication of dog dental infection or gingivitis, including:
- Signs of teeth discolouration, or yellow/brown mineral accumulation (tartar) around the gumline and teeth
- Redness, swelling, and/or bleeding gums or around the mouth
- Noticeable bad breath
- Abnormal drooling or chewing, or food dropping from its mouth
- Noticeable changes in chewing or eating habits
- Reduced appetite or unwillingness to eat
- Constant face pawing, signs of pain or discomfort around the mouth
- Lethargy, lower willingness to play, depression
- Loose, broken or missing teeth
- Noticeable changes in dog’s behavior, increased irritability and biting
We strongly recommend scheduling for a dog dental exam today as part of a regular checkup, as early detection can prevent many heartbreaking complications in the future.
We offer comprehensive pet dental services, such as dental x-rays, teeth cleaning, scaling and polishing to upkeep your pet’s dental needs. Speak with our seasoned veterinarians for more information on how to provide your dogs with the best dental health.
Home dental care and prevention tips for dogs
There are many things that you as pet owners can do to prevent some of the most common oral diseases and help keep their teeth strong and healthy, some of which only require small and simple adjustments to their daily routine, such as the choice of foods and treats given.
Giving large raw marrow bones for your dogs to chew on is both a delightful treat, and is also a natural way for them to remove tartar buildup from their teeth through the gnawing process. There is also a wide variety of rubber and rawhide chew toys readily available on the market that can serve the similar purpose of reducing plaque and tartar.
Brushing your dogs’ teeth on a regular basis is by far the most effective way to keep their teeth clean and minimize the chances for plaque and tartar accumulation.
Although daily brushing is ideal, this is not always possible, depending on your pet’s acceptability towards brushing. With regards to dog food, there are formulated dental-specific prescription diets and treats available that will serve to reduce the buildup of tartar.
That being said, we note that there is an abundance of products on the market that claim to improve dental hygiene, with varying levels of effectiveness. Book an appointment with our veterinarians for their recommendations.
Does my cat have dental problems? How to know when my cat needs dental work?
There are several common signs that may indicate your cat is suffering from dental disease and needs veterinary attention:
- Discoloured teeth, or yellow/brown mineral buildup (tartar) around the gumline and teeth
- Redness, swollen, and/or bleeding gums or around the mouth
- Bad breath
- Excessive chewing or drooling, or food dropping from its mouth
- Noticeable changes in eating habits
- Reduced appetite or refusing to eat
- Noticeable weight loss
- Excessive face pawing, signs of discomfort or pain around the mouth
- Lethargy, lower levels of activity, lower willingness to play, depression
- Broken, loose or missing teeth
- ‘Chattering’ teeth
- Becoming easily irritable, changes in behavior, such as biting
We strongly suggest making an appointment for a cat dental examination today as part of a routine checkup, as early detection can prevent many long-term complications that can be detrimental to your cat’s health.
Tips for cat dental care from home
Home oral hygiene makes a significant difference in your cat’s overall health. There are many options available for you to improve your cat’s dental hygiene, we emphasize that consistency and perseverance are key to success.
Putting in a little effort in reducing plaque and tartar accumulation several days per week will be highly rewarding in the long-term. Cats are typically reluctant to have their teeth cleaned, and will require plenty of patience and a very gradual approach in order to gain acceptance and achieve success.
Starting these efforts at a younger age will also typically lead the cat to becoming more open to home oral care routines. Brushing your cat’s teeth is by far the most effective method to maintain great oral hygiene, and should be done several times per week to be effective.
On the other hand, it is also one of the most difficult to achieve, as cats tend to be very conservative. As most cats tend to be resistant to having their teeth brushed, introduction to the idea must be a slow and gradual process – full acceptance of the whole process may take 2-3 months, especially if not performed on a daily basis.
- Begin by letting your cat become familiar with the dental toothpaste and licking it from your finger;
- Once your cat has become accustomed to the flavor of the toothpaste, attempt letting it lick the toothpaste off a finger toothbrush or small toothbrush;
- Finally, gently place the brush in your cat’s mouth with slight brushing motions.
Do not use toothpaste meant for humans, as they typically contains fluoride and foaming detergents that should not be swallowed and are harmful to cats. Human toothpaste can be unpleasant to cats and lead to upset stomachs. There are many pet-specific toothpastes available on the market, with flavors that are palatable for cats and encourage its acceptance (such as malt and poultry).
As some cats can show strong resistance to having their teeth brushed as a form of dental hygiene, we recommend trying various options to test what your cat will accept and tolerate, including the use of dental gels or dental sprays.
Meanwhile, dental-specific diets tend to be more readily accepted by cats when given the time to gradually adjust to the change in food, and these have also shown to be beneficial in helping remove plaque and tartar from their teeth, which will help prevent the development from gingivitis in cats.
Hence, dental food for cats are typically recommended as a method to improve overall oral hygiene. Schedule an appointment with our qualified veterinarians for recommendations on dental diets.
How much does pet dental cleaning cost?
Cleaning your pet’s teeth doesn’t have to be a headache and can be very affordable! Consider that:
- The cost of having your cat or dog’s teeth extracted due to cavities or decays can cost upwards of $500, depending on the complexity of the situation;
- Having a tooth root infection can cost hundreds of dollars to treat, and may require multiple veterinary follow-up consultations;
- If infections have spread into your pet’s bloodstream and other organs, medical bills will be exponentially higher.
More importantly, tremendous stress is placed on your pet when having to undergo the painful dental extraction procedures. When putting all the facts together, making the choice of getting routine pet dental cleaning and care becomes both economical as well as a responsible one as a pet owner.
At Vancouver Animal Hospital, we strive to provide the most affordable veterinary pet dental cleaning services to pet owners in Vancouver, British Columbia – call today to schedule an appointment for a pet dental cleaning exam!
How long does a pet dental cleaning procedure take?
Pet dental cleaning usually last anywhere from 1-2 hours, depending on the patient’s condition, such as the amount of plaque and tartar buildup in the mouth, and the dental disease that is present and needs attending to.
Is anesthesia necessary to clean my pet
Yes, here at Vancouver Animal Hospital, we perform pet dental cleaning under general anesthetic for various reasons. Your pet’s safety is of utmost importance to us – while under anesthesia, your pet is both pain-free and stress-free while undergoing a procedure that would otherwise be confusing and uncomfortable to the animal.
Remember that your pet does not understand the process and benefits of the pet dental cleaning procedure, and is therefore likely to move and react if he or she was awake, which substantially heightens the risk of injury.
Our professional veterinarians will be able to conduct a comprehensive oral exam to spot any problems under the gumline, and will also be able to complete a full cleaning in places where periodontal disease is most active.
We note that over 60% of tartar and plaque is accumulated beneath the gumline, and is an area of the oral cavity cannot be cleaned on a cat or dog that is awake, despite being the most critical part of a pet dental cleaning procedure. Professional scaling requires scraping to remove calculus and plaque from the teeth, in which a sudden head movement by the patient can lead to injury to the oral issues.
A pet dental cleaning procedure conducted without the use of anaesthesia can be dangerous to your pet and run a high potential risk of injury. We note that anesthesia-free pet dental procedures may actually increase the risk of periodontal disease.
As the pet owners are under the impression that their pet’s mouth is clean and healthy, when in fact the areas of the oral cavity where periodontal disease lurks has not been cleaned and may have serious implications in the future.
Our veterinarians conduct an evaluation of the overall size and health of the patient to determine the appropriate dosage of sedative or anaesthetic for a cat or dog, along with continual monitoring of the patient’s condition. A high level of care is provided throughout the anesthetic procedure.
Although the use of anesthesia will never be 100% risk-free, the application of patient evaluation and modern anesthetic techniques in veterinary hospitals will keep minimize risks, enabling millions of pet dental procedures to be performed annually.
More information related to why anesthesia and intubation are the only veterinary pet dental cleaning considered to be professional pet dental cleaning can be found from the American Veterinary Dental College. Call to schedule a pet dental cleaning today. Pet dental cleaning will eliminate bad oral hygiene for your pets. The deserve the best pet dental cleaning at an affordable rate.