05 Nov The importance of maintaining good oral health
No one likes going to the dentist, but we certainly like having strong, healthy teeth and gums. Our animals are no different – and unfortunately, many pet owners skip over this very important health care requirement.
While there are no animal dentists in the wild, the prey that wild carnivores naturally eat provide some cleaning for their teeth. Now we have transitioned them to dry or wet animal food, their teeth are no longer used in the same way. That can encourage the build-up that leads to poor oral health and can even negatively affect their general health.
Here are some great reasons to get your pet’s teeth regularly checked, and some tips on how to keep your furry family member in fantastic oral health.
Keeping them healthy
Your pet’s health is important to you, and you might not realise how much poor oral health could be affecting them. Build-up usually starts slow and gets worse over time. A lack of oral hygiene encourages plaque, which leads to tartar, which can encourage bacteria to grow in the mouth and even get into the blood stream.
There are plenty of dental problems that can result, such as sore gums, tooth loss, cavities, and gum disease. But it’s not just limited to their mouths – when oral health gets out of hand, it can lead to serious conditions such as damage to the heart, lungs, and kidneys. That’s why it’s so important to take action early, to help maintain your pet’s good health.
You might think your pet’s stinky breath is just one of those doggy or feline things, but in fact it can be a sign of gum disease. The same goes for excessive drooling – it could be time to get your pet’s mouth examined by a professional.
If you’ve noticed an increase in lethargy or a decreased appetite, facial swelling or pawing at the face, or discharge from the eyes and nose, it’s time to take a closer look. Check regularly anyway – you’re looking for swollen or red gums, missing teeth, bad breath, and build-up along the tops of their teeth. Even if you can’t see anything, it’s still important to get your pet’s teeth examined and treated by your vet on a regular basis.
Prevention is better than cure
Signs can develop gradually, so it’s easy to miss until there’s a major infection. Treating a big problem is always going to be more expensive, lengthy, and even dangerous than preventative measures. Your vet can help you with tips to manage oral health from home, but you’ll still need to schedule regular appointments to get a professional clean – at least yearly is a good indicator.
How you can help
There’s plenty you can do to help maintain your pet’s chompers – but remember that dental care from home will slow oral issues, but not prevent them completely. An important but often neglected step is to actually brush your pet’s teeth. Never use human toothpaste, especially as many contain xylitol which can be deadly to animals. Pet teeth cleaning kits are easy to find and will help you get the right products for your furry friend. Dental chews and hard plastic toys should also form a regular part of your pets playtime. Look for toys and chews that have been endorsed by veterinary associations, as they’re even more likely to help your pet maintain good oral health.
You can imagine what your teeth would feel like if you didn’t brush or maintain them – and your pet is not much different. You’ll be saving yourself money and heartache later on down the track by taking steps now to keep your pets mouth healthy and clean. While there are plenty of things you can do from home to help, your vet is going to be your best asset in your fight to keep your pet’s mouth looking and feeling healthy and smelling sweet – or at least, smelling better than usual.