Oral care is a growing trend among pet guardians and for good reason. A healthy mouth is vital to a healthy body. “Dental care is one of the simplest things you can do to help maintain a dog or cat’s long-term health,” says Dr. David Smith, a veterinarian with Leader Dogs for the Blind in Rochester, Michigan. In fact, oral disease is the most commonly diagnosed illness for adult cats and dogs, affecting nearly 80 percent of those over the age of 3, according to PetDental.com. A good dental regime can help you beat these odds and keep your pet’s mouth clean and healthy.
Symptoms of periodontal disease
Bad breath is often the first sign of oral disease but definitely not the last. Pets may also experience bleeding, swollen gums, and tooth decay. Worse yet, left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to secondary infection within the body, according to Dr. Louise Murray, of the ASPCA in New York City. “Bacteria doesn’t just stay in the mouth,” she says. Instead it can compromise the immune system and travel to the heart, lungs, and kidneys. “Oral health is important for overall health.”
Many guardians tend to wait until a problem arises before having their pet’s teeth examined and waiting too long can just makes things worse. “If it’s an emergency situation, the dentistry becomes much more involved,” Murray says. Pet guardians can avoid extensive problems by having the teeth cleaned regularly. Smith recommends annual examinations for optimum health.
In addition, by the time the physical signs of oral disease are visible, your pet has likely withstood a great deal of pain. We all know how much a toothache hurts. Dogs and especially cats are masters at hiding their distress. Alleviate the pain and you’ll see a change in personality; a once lethargic pet may become energetic and playful once again.
Next: 3 steps to good oral care