Can your pet’s breath clear a room? Do chew toys run from your dog? Does your pet’s mouth resemble a cave you toured during an elementary school field trip? Sounds like it’s time for a dental check-up at Wales Animal Clinic.
Dental health is about more than superficial smiles and white teeth—dental care affects your pet’s quality of life. By age 3, an astounding 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease, which occurs when oral bacteria below the gum line cause chronic inflammation, tooth root damage, broken teeth, painful infection, and eventually heart, liver, and kidney damage. In other words, untreated dental disease can shorten your pet’s life.
Don’t wait another day! Here are three things you must do to take charge of your pet’s dental wellness, and ensure they’re healthy and happy for a long time to come.
#1: Look inside your pet’s mouth every day
Simple enough, right? Well, perhaps for some dogs and cats. But, if your adult pet won’t let you handle their face, muzzle, or mouth, they may be trying to tell you they’re in pain. Schedule an appointment at Wales Animal Clinic before trying any at-home dental care.
For more cooperative and pain-free pets, pair your daily inspection with a tasty treat, or play their favorite game before and after, so they associate your new habit with positive emotions. Once your pet is comfortable, look for any abnormal signs, including:
- Red, irritated, or swollen gums
- Discolored teeth
- Heavy tartar and calculus (i.e., brown or tan debris affixed to the teeth)
- Missing, mobile, or broken teeth
- Tumors or growths
Since dental disease hides below the gum line, early signs are rarely visible. However, your pet may express discomfort with behavioral changes, such as:
- Reluctance to play with favorite toys
- One-sided chewing
- Dropping food
- Facial rubbing on furniture or carpet
- Pawing at the mouth
- Ducking away from petting
#2: Provide daily at-home dental care for your pet
Like people, pets require daily dental care to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Fortunately, you can achieve this in many easy, convenient ways, without any hassle or stress. The best home care regimen is the one that you can perform consistently, so if one method isn’t working for you or your pet, other proven options include:
- Toothbrushing — Daily brushing is the gold standard for pet dental disease prevention. If you’re new to brushing your pet’s teeth, check out this helpful video. Remember to start slowly with short sessions and lots of positive reinforcement. Always use pet toothpaste—human brands aren’t meant to be swallowed and are made with xylitol, which is toxic to pets, and a foaming agent.
- Dental diets — Can’t brush? Specially designed dental diets scrub your pet’s teeth as they chew, breaking down plaque and tartar.
- Dental chews — Chewing a pliable dental treat can effectively clean the tooth crown and massage the gums.
- Water additives — Supplement your pet’s drinking water with a powerful plaque-fighter that strengthens oral health with every sip.
- Appropriate toys — Hard plastic toys and bones such as antlers, yak’s milk chews, and animal bones don’t yield to your pet’s teeth, and can cause painful fractures and damage. Replace these dangerous choices with flexible, natural rubber toys, such as Kongs or Goughnuts, and dental chews approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
#3: Bring your pet in for annual exams and dental cleanings
Your pet’s teeth should be professionally evaluated at least once per year. At Wales Animal Clinic, the dental exam is a standard part of your pet’s annual wellness visit. During this exam, our veterinarians will look for visible dental disease signs, and will offer home-care suggestions, or recommend a dental cleaning under anesthesia.
While obvious tartar, bad breath, or fractured teeth make understanding your veterinarian’s recommendations easy, something as subtle as gingivitis or mild swelling may be the only thing hinting at deeper disease. Without dental X-rays, knowing the extent of dental disease damage is impossible.
Dental cleanings under anesthesia are more than chipping off tartar and polishing pearly whites. Our advanced dental care protocols include:
- Pre-anesthetic blood work — This blood work ensures pets are fit for anesthesia.
- Intravenous (IV) catheter — IV catheters deliver intravenous fluids and medication, and provide venous access in an emergency.
- Intubation — Securing your pet’s airway provides a constant flow of oxygen and anesthesia, and protects them from aspirating debris into the lungs.
- Electronic and hands-on vitals monitoring — Your pet receives one-on-one attention from a technician anesthetist, from induction to recovery.
- Inhalant anesthesia — Anesthetic gas not only reduces the need for injectable medication, but also can be breathed off more easily.
- Dental X-rays — X-rays are standard of care to identify unseen pathology, such as broken or eroded roots, infection, and changes to the bone.
- Scaling and polishing — Tartar and calculus are removed manually, and then polished, to remove microgrooves and smooth the tooth surface.
- Dental extractions — Our veterinarians can remove damaged or infected teeth.
- Pain management, including local nerve blocks — Prior to any painful procedure, pets receive a local anesthetic. After the procedure, pets go home with additional pain medication and antibiotics.
- Therapeutic treatments to save at-risk teeth — Subgingival antibiotics and sealants may be used to protect teeth in early dental disease stages.
Don’t let your pet’s dental health—or their bad breath—keep them at arm’s length. Proper care is in reach—start preserving their oral health and extending their lifespan by taking steps toward dental care with Wales Animal Clinic. Contact our team to schedule your pet’s dental exam.