5 Common Myths About Your Pet’s Dental Health
No doubt, as a parent, you normally take your pet for routine vaccines and regular checkups. You would likely make a regular visit to a dog groomer, follow a regular exercise routine of thirty minutes per day, and feed it with premium food. But the big question is “How do you take care of your pet’s teeth”? For sure, there are many myths floating around when concerning animal dental health and this article will correctly address those myths.
Myth: Animal Mouths Are Much Cleaner Than That of Humans
- Fact: Dental disease is one of the most common diagnoses in cats and dogs
Bacteria count in the mouth of humans, cats, and dogs differ with different studies which gave rise to this particular myth. However, the truth is that both cats and dogs harbor more bacteria than anybody would care to count. What the bacteria does is to create a film called plaque on the teeth surface which then combines with the saliva minerals to form what is known as tartar. If this condition is not promptly addressed with frequent dental work, it can result in damages to both the teeth and the structures surrounding it.
Findings from AVDC (the American Veterinary Dental College) revealed that several cats and dogs are known to manifest various evidence of periodontal disease by the time they get to the age of three. The condition is even worse in smaller breeds which are known to develop it before they complete their first year. The reason behind this is that all cats come with the same number of teeth, and the same can be said for all dogs no matter how small, or big their mouths may be.
Some common periodontal diseases in animals are inflammation of the gums, clinically referred to as gingivitis and periodontitis which symptom is usually the loss of some soft tissues and bones around the teeth. Pet parents can easily overlook dental diseases, since both cats and dogs hardly show any symptoms, and this kind of hidden health condition underlines the importance of annual dental examination and cleaning.
- Fact: Aging has nothing to do with oral disease
This is a misconception since pets that get routine professional cleaning and adequate oral home care is less likely to develop any form of dental disease, no matter how old they grow to be. In fact, findings have revealed that a pet’s life span can increase by two years if it receives good oral care. In the same way that age is not seen as a disease, dental disease is not supposed to be a concern in aging pets.
In the same way as humans, cats and dogs require regular dental care. When you leave your animal friend’s teeth in poor shape, it can result in bad breath as well as tooth and gum disease. When you allow dental diseases to advance to the level of periodontal disease, it can damage organs like kidney, liver, and heart.
Myth: It Is Not Possible to Know If My Pet Is Experiencing Dental Problems
- Fact: Although subtle, dental diseases come with several signs
Periodontal disease in animals is a hidden condition that is often silent. When the signs do exist, they can include the likes of:
- Foul breath
- Unwarranted drooling
- Eating with reluctance
- Eating and whining
- Pawing at its face
- Dirty teeth
- Undue licking around the nose and mouth
Though some pets may fail to exhibit such signs, they may still be due for annual dental examination if;
- They have not had a dental examination for over one year.
- They are not exposed to regular dental care.
- Take to chewing some abrasive substances like rocks.
Myth: Professional Teeth Cleaning Is Not Necessary for Pets
- Fact: Cats and dogs require regular teeth cleaning and dental exams
We have witnessed a lot of misconceptions that white teeth are synonymous with healthy, but this is not so. The color of the teeth is of lesser importance when compared to the health of the gum, Infections are known to lurk below the gum line, and the symptoms come in the form of swollen red gums. This kind of infection can result in tooth loss, bad breath, liver, heart and kidney disease in cats and dogs. To ensure that your animal companion’s dentition is in tip-top shape, you need to carry out some professional tooth cleaning process as well as oral examination at least once a year.
As for bad breath, it is an indication that your pet’s mouth is infected – that offensive odor always emanates from the byproduct of bacteria in the animal’s mouth. This usually forms what is called plaque, and can result in dental disease. When a cat or dog develops a dental disease known as halitosis, it only means that the time has come for a professional cleaning session as well as a detailed dental exam.
Some professional cleaning sessions can take a whole day as most vet clinics insist on administrating a health screen to know if the animal is fit enough for anesthesia. General anesthesia is necessary for a radiograph, complete dental examination as well as dental work. The essence of the dental radiograph is for the evaluation of the mouth structures that are not visible, and calculus and plaque can be removed by carrying out ultrasound scaling both below the gum line and above it. The last part of professional dental cleaning is the polishing which functions in keeping the teeth safe from plaque-forming bacteria.
Myth: To Maintain Healthy Teeth, My Pet Needs Just Dental Chew
- Fact: You should be cleaning your pet’s teeth daily
Just like professional care, home care is equally important, in the same way as in human teeth; your pet’s dental health is a necessity, and you need to make some home efforts to keep it in tip-top shape between one professional dental cleaning to the other. What this entails is that, as pet parents, you will spend some time on weekly, if not daily, brushing of your animal companion’s teeth with a pet-friendly toothpaste and toothbrush. Please avoid using your own toothpaste as dogs and cats don’t know how to spit out after brushing. When you are ready to clean your pet’s teeth, you have first to make the animal accept it by a gentle introduction of the brush, do this in a calm way without applying pressure. Besides, the day to day brushing sessions can engender a great bonding experience between pet parents and their pets.
There are pet parents who are of the opinion that animal teeth can take care of itself once you feed them with hard kibble. However, this particular belief has been debunked by some findings which point to the fact that cats and dogs don’t chew their kibble, they swallow it whole, and thus, it offers no dental benefits. Even if they chew the kibble, it breaks apart immediately in contact with the dog’s teeth since it is very hard and does nothing for the animal’s dentition. However, there are still some specific dental diets that can take care of this problem. It comes in the form of softer and larger kibble made with fiber matrix that permits the animal’s teeth to penetrate, thus wiping off any plaque on the teeth
We still have pet owners who are of the opinion that all animals, especially dogs, need to chew bones and toys to keep their teeth clean. However, although your dog may be grateful for the bone, its teeth will not benefit. A dog’s dentition does not come with the natural ability to make the side to side movement like in humans, thus, when chewing on bones, they regularly fracture their carnassial teeth. Fractured teeth can be painful, and results in abscess and infections if not treated.
There is a rule of the thumb to follow when choosing a chew toy for your pet – Don’t give your pet anything you can’t bend with your hands. Animals that live in the wild often experience untold fractures in the mouth as a result of chewing on really hard bones.
It is really great to enhance pet-owner bonding with your dog or cat by indulging in a game of tennis ball with them. But once done, it’s very important to put the ball away as your pet can suffer an abrasion from the rough surface of the ball, and it will cause the teeth surface or enamel to wear away as time rolls by. By allowing your dog to frequently chew away on a tennis ball, you are exposing it to severely worn teeth, which is a very painful condition.
There are also recommended dental chews or even human consumables like carrots which are known to promote healthy teeth in animals. In addition to promoting dental health, some animal diets help pet parents in daily brushing. However, we are yet to see that product which is capable of getting rid of calculus or tartar already accumulated on the teeth – The only way out is professional cleaning which can be done annually. Once completed, it is then up to you as a pet parent to keep your pet’s teeth healthy with some home measures until the next professional dental appointment.