Did you know your pet’s oral health seriously affects overall health? Diseases of the digestive system, heart, liver, and kidneys can all be triggered by dental problems.
In fact, a study of pet insurance claims found that pet owners were spending far more trying to cure the side effects of dental disease than on taking preventive measures. The average dental cleaning costs just $180, while the average cost of fixing a dental problem is $230 and it can cost thousands of dollars to manage more serious health issues.
Prevention is the key to preserving oral health and body-wide vitality for your pet. Here are some proactive ways to support dental wellness.
No. 1: Visit the Vet Regularly
Routine vet visits are the first step to preventive care. Your vet will examine your pet’s mouth and determine whether there are any issues to be concerned about.
Pet oral disease is quite common, affecting 70% of cats and 80% of dogs. Vets look for early warning signs like plaque buildup, bleeding, swelling, open sores and loose/painful teeth. The vet may recommend that your pet has regular cleanings or prescribe medication to get symptoms under control.
There might also be evidence of more serious problems, like tumors or lesions that require surgery. Your vet can guide you through managing any dental health problems that turn up during a routine visit.
No. 2: Schedule Dental Cleanings
In addition to wellness checks, regular dental cleanings are important for your pet. Cleanings remove plaque and tartar buildup, preventing the inflammatory condition called gingivitis. Gingivitis causes red - instead of normal pink - gums, bad breath, and irritation that can progress to pain.
When tartar is allowed to build up into plaque, and plaque is never removed, pockets of bacteria develop in the gums. This is the early stage of periodontal disease, which can spread throughout the mouth and cause severe pain for your pet.
Over time, periodontal disease can cause bone loss, tooth loss, infections deep within the body, and sores that won’t heal. These are very serious problems that can compromise the life of your pet.
Here’s the good news: Almost all of these worst-case scenarios can be completely avoided through proactive dental care. Using a low-stress, low-pain procedure - which may or may not include sedation - a vet can remove all the plaque, tartar, and other icky stuff so your pet’s mouth stays in the best of health.
No. 3: Start a New Routine at Home
Dental health extends beyond the vet’s office. Your home routines are just as important. Here are a few things you can do at home to prevent pet dental disease:
● Provide a healthy, raw-food diet as recommended by your vet.
● Avoid treats that don’t support good dental health.
● Minimize or eliminate all table scraps and “human food.”
● Brush your pet’s teeth every day, or at least weekly.
● Inspect your pet’s mouth regularly for changes.
No. 4: Introduce Dental-Friendly Chews and Toys
You can also provide your pet with some playthings that promote dental wellness. There are special dental-friendly chews and toys tailored to dogs and cats.
If your pet has had oral surgery or tooth problems, make sure you discuss chews and toys with your vet before giving them to your pet. Some of the bone-shaped dental chews for dogs, for example, are too hard for a pup who’s had restorative dental work.