Pets need good dental care for the same reasons we do. Even though people brush their teeth twice a day, it is still recommended that we get our teeth cleaned and examined by a dentist twice a year. Our pets can’t brush their teeth, and many pets go a lifetime without even one dental checkup.
Do you know how your teeth feel just a little fuzzy in the morning? That fuzzy feeling is because of plaque that has built up on your teeth overnight. Brushing your teeth in the morning removes the plaque, and your teeth go back to feeling normal. In our pets, this “early morning” plaque is never removed. More layers of plaque build up, and over time harden into tartar. Tartar is a great place for bacteria to hide and multiply. The bacteria in the tartar can cause your pets to have bad breath. These bacteria can also cause infections in the gums (gum disease), and can even get into the blood and cause infections in other parts of the body.
As bacteria causes gum disease, your pet’s mouth can become very painful. It can be difficult to notice signs of mouth pain in the early stages of gum disease. As the gum disease progresses, the pain may get so bad that your pet actually stops eating. If you notice any of these 5 things in your pet, it is time to bring him in for an oral exam, and maybe a full dental cleaning:
- Bad breath. A little bit of doggy breath is normal, but worsening breath can indicate infections in the mouth.
- You can see tartar build up on the teeth.
- The gums are dark red, or bleeding (even just once in a while).
- Your pet has stopped playing with his favorite chew toys or doesn’t like to catch for you anymore. Signs like these can be early indicators of mouth pain.
- Eating dry, crunchy foods can be hard on painful mouths. As gum disease progresses, you may notice that your pet is eating much slower, dropping food, prefers soft food over dry kibble (if he is used to eating kibble), or has stopped eating.
Be sure to check out this article to find out what happens during a dental cleaning.
February is National Pet Dental Month. If your pet’s teeth haven’t been examined recently, now is the time to do it! Contact your veterinarian today to set up an appointment!
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