When it comes to looking after your pet’s teeth, there is one condition that you need to be particularly aware of. Periodontal disease in pets is exactly like periodontal disease in humans and is the most prevalent of all dental problems affecting domestic animals. In fact, most cats and dogs will have some degree of periodontal disease by the time they turn 3 years old. Although in its mildest form, periodontal disease isn’t much more than a nuisance, as it progresses, it can cause serious and even life-threatening health problems.
Luckily, with the right care and attention, both at home and from your dental veterinarian, you can help prevent periodontal disease in your pet, and ensure she enjoys great oral health.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is an infection that affects the structures around the teeth, including the gums and jaw bone. When the teeth aren’t effectively cleaned, bacteria that is present on the teeth forms plaque, which is most often found along the line where the gums meet the teeth. If this plaque isn’t removed, the bacteria quickly accumulates, causing gums to become irritated and sore.
What happens when periodontal disease becomes severe?
It is very easy to ignore the symptoms of periodontal disease when they are mild, particularly when they are happening to your pet and may not be very obvious. However, when periodontal disease progresses, it can cause a range of unpleasant and debilitating symptoms including severe pain, difficulty eating, and even tooth loss.
Advanced periodontal disease has also been linked to a variety of general health problems, which could potentially affect your pet. This is because the bacteria that is present in the mouth causing the infection can enter the circulatory system and spread into other parts of your animal’s body, including the kidneys, liver and even heart. Once bacteria invade the major organs, further and possibly irreversible damage could occur.
Symptoms of periodontal disease
In the early stages, periodontal disease symptoms can include:
- Red, swollen gums
- Bleeding from the gums
- Mildly bad breath
As the disease progresses from moderate to severe, symptoms could include:
- Pawing at the mouth
- Pus visible around one or more teeth
- Loss of appetite
- Difficulty eating
- Persistently bad breath
- One or more teeth that seem loose or fall out
Preventing periodontal disease in your pet
It is important to understand that periodontal disease is irreversible. However, it is possible to prevent it from occurring, or if your pet has already been diagnosed, manage it and prevent it from getting any worse.
The best way to prevent periodontal disease is to ensure that your pet follows a comprehensive and high quality dental care routine. This will comprise of two key elements – daily oral care at home, and support from our veterinary dentist at Nippers Corner Pet Medical Center.
What you can do to prevent pet periodontal disease at home
You are responsible for your pet’s day to day care, and that includes helping to look after her teeth. Many pet owners don’t realize that daily brushing should be incorporated into the dental health routine of every member of your family – even the furry ones!
Our Veterinarians at Nippers Corner Pet Medical Center will be able to show you the best techniques for brushing the teeth of your furbaby, and with a little practice, it will soon become a natural part of your daily routine. Make sure you choose dental products created specifically for your type of pet, as human varieties may prove toxic.
If you have a dog, you can help to keep his teeth healthy by providing him with chew toys. Chewing stimulates saliva, which is his natural defence against the bacteria that cause dental decay. You can also choose treats that are specially formulated to be beneficial for his dental health.
Why visiting our veterinary dentist is so important
Although you are responsible for your pet’s day to day dental health, you also need to have a veterinary dentist firmly in your corner. This professional has had the specialized training and education to be able to spot dental problems early, and before they pose a significant threat to your pet. This could spare your pet from unpleasant symptoms and help prevent the need for invasive and expensive dental treatments.
Our veterinary dentist will also be able to advise you how often your pet should have a professional dental clean. This is a much more comprehensive version of standard brushing, performed while your pet is under a general anesthetic, so that every part of your pet’s mouth and teeth can be effectively cleaned.
If you are concerned about periodontal disease affecting your pet, contact us and make an appointment with our team to schedule a dental exam, which will enable you to monitor of your pet’s dental health.