dog dental care.

In an effort to raise awareness among pet owners and promote overall wellness, February is National Pet Dental Health Month. Without routine attention to the teeth and gums pets, can quickly become vulnerable to dental disease. 

What’s worse, oral problems aren’t limited to the mouth. Oral bacteria leads to periodontal, or gum, disease, but can also travel through the bloodstream to the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys where major health problems develop. 

What’s the Big Deal?

Food particles and bacteria form plaque, a slimy film that coats the surface of the teeth. Over time, plaque calcifies into tartar. This leads to coarse accumulation on the gum line, primarily on the back molars. Tartar also discolors teeth a yellow or brown hue. 

Tartar pushes the gums away from the teeth as it builds up. These spaces, or pockets, become veritable breeding grounds for more bacteria, and accelerate gum disease. 

Regular brushing at home (starting with once per week), paired with annual cleanings under anesthesia, creates a preventive approach to dental health.

How to Keep My Pet’s Teeth Clean

Periodontal disease is entirely preventable. Attention to a pet’s teeth and gums may seem like an investment of time and money, but it’s about 30% more affordable than treatment of gum disease, including tooth extractions. Plus, supporting optimal pet dental health can increase life expectancy by 20%!

The Right Stuff

Start this new regimen by acquiring pet-specific toothbrushes and toothpastes to make the experience easier for you and less scary for your pet. 

  • Allow your pet to smell and taste their dental products
  • Gradually insert the toothbrush in their mouth after they appear relaxed. 
  • Slowly move the toothbrush in circles around the outside of the teeth, and then the interior surfaces. 
  • Provide lots of soothing praise, offer yummy snacks, and give them lots of strokes to the ears, head, chest, and back. 
  • You may find that your pet is more amenable to teeth brushing after a good workout and a meal.

Clean ‘Em Up

At every wellness exam, we take a look at the teeth and gums. However, because the extent of gum disease occurs below the gums digital X-rays are conducted under general anesthesia. 

To keep a pet’s mouth as clean and healthy as possible, cleanings are scheduled once per year. Extensive damage to the teeth and gums typically results in extractions. Certain dietary modifications, such as introducing wet food, ensure they get optimal nutrition despite tooth loss.

At Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital, your pet’s health is our number one priority. Please call us at (210) 681‑1391 with any questions about pet dental health