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02.14.2013: Dental Care For Your Pet

 

Dental Care For Your Pet
 
Have you looked inside of your dog’s mouth lately? It seems like an odd thing to do, but it’s a huge step towards proper oral healthcare. Diseases in the mouth are the most commonly diagnosed problems of patients of small animal hospitals. Studies show that as many as 80% of dogs develop signs of periodontal disease or gingivitis before they reach three years old. Without regular cleaning both at home and professionally, bacteria and plaque can build up on the teeth and gums causing bad breath and gingivitis. If that wasn’t bad enough, those bacteria can get into your dog’s bloodstream and cause damage to the heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys. The good news is that oral diseases are almost entirely preventable, and many are treatable when they are addressed promptly. Regular dental exams and home care for your dogs can help you to keep oral disease at bay, which in turn can prolong the life of your canine companions. It’s never too late (or too early) to start an oral regimen!
 
Even though your dog can’t talk to you, there are lots of ways that he can tell you that it’s time for action. The first sign is bad breath. Remember when your puppy’s shiny white new adult teeth came in? Now lift your dog’s lips and take a peek at the teeth & gums. If those pearly whites seem more yellow than white and the gums are swollen or inflamed, you’re looking at plaque and tartar buildup. Are the gums red or bleeding? That can be gingivitis, or the beginnings of more severe periodontal disease. Left without treatment, this can lead to oral pain or tooth loss, and that can keep your dog from wanting to eat. Have his eating or drinking habits changed recently? Loss of appetite, excessive drooling, and loose teeth are all signs that dental disease may be affecting your dog.
 
With dental disease, just like with any healthcare issue, the best defense is a good offense. Imagine what might happen if you hadn’t seen a dentist until you were 20! Start by having your dog’s teeth and gums examined and professionally cleaned at our office. A dental exam and cleaning should become part of his regular veterinary visits. In between cleanings, you can help keep teeth fresh and bright by adopting an oral home-care plan. This can include brushing, special dietary aides, and other techniques to help to keep your dog healthy year ‘round. Be sure to stick with toothpastes in flavors and formulas made especially for dogs (his taste buds and tummy will thank you!). At your next visit, please ask us for a hands-on lesson in providing good home dental care for your dog.

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