Keep Them Smiling!

Is a dog's mouth cleaner than a human's? Is it normal for your pet to have bad breath? Do you know what the #1 cause of pet illness is?

If you’re like most people, you’re not excited about going to the dentist. You probably figure your pet won’t be either. Maybe you think you don’t need to worry about their teeth unless they start drooling or cocking their head when eating. Sadly, by then your fur baby is almost certainly in pain… maybe worse.

By age three, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats are affected by periodontal disease. Bacteria from mouth infections can spread to other organs, weakening the heart, liver or kidneys. While folklore asserts that a dog’s mouth is cleaner than a human’s, dogs and cats simply have bacterial strains that are different from ours, but when causing infection, can still be just as dangerous. By age 7-8, the effects of your pet’s periodontal disease may be IRREVERSIBLE.

Ask yourself, does my fur child:

  • have bad breath (often the earliest indicator of a problem)
  • have teeth that are loose, discolored or covered in tartar
  • bleed from the mouth or shy away from being touched there
  • drool or drop food when chewing
  • paw at their mouth
  • have reduced appetite or refuse to eat

If the answer to any of these is “yes,” it’s time for an immediate dental exam with your vet!

Even if it’s “no,” a yearly exam greatly increases the chances of your cat or dog leading a longer, healthier life. Why be checked by a professional? Most dental disease occurs below the gum line so it’s critical to know what to look for, and it may even require more thorough evaluation (like x-rays).

What can you do to keep your fur kids smiling?

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  1. Commit to a yearly dental exam, with periodic scaling & polishing (just like you do for your own teeth). Yes, that may mean some light anesthesia but the benefits of preventing the pain and complications from dental disease far outweighs the slight risk of anesthetic complications.
  2. Brush your pet’s teeth at least several times a week (yes, even your cat’s teeth). Here's some help on how to Work Up to Brushing. You can also watch Cat/Dog Tooth Brushing Step by Step for video coaching & moral support :-)
  3. Choose dental toys, treats and food that have the seal of acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. While these don’t replace brushing, they offer helpful supplementation.

I’m embarrassed to admit that I ignored my cat Smudge’s bad breath. I let the hassle of acclimating her to a toothbrush, and my fear of putting her under anesthesia keep me from recognizing the pain that she was experiencing. Our pets are so stoic, and I just didn’t know.

Thank goodness my veterinarian routinely does dental exams whenever she sees my babies. She suspected something was wrong below the gum lines and sent us to a veterinary dentist. Sure enough, there were problems—and once they’d been corrected, Smudge started racing around and chowing down like she was a kitten again!