Both Cats and Dogs Need Good Dental Care to Stay Healthy

In the United States, February of each year has been designated as Pet Dental Health Month, to remind pet owners of just how important dog dental care or cat dental care is. Let’s talk about why you should be deeply concerned about your pet cat or dog’s dental care, and why you should visit a pet dental care hospital such as the Oak Tree Animal Hospital, in Brandon Florida, this February, or for that matter, during any time of the year. Nothing is more important than your pet cat or dog’s dental care.


Why Do Your Pets Need Dental Care Anyway?


Our pet cats and dogs are living longer than at any time in the past. Thanks largely to the great advance in veterinary science, more effective preventive medicine for our pets, such as vaccinations, more advanced technologies used in the diagnosis and treatment. Today, it has been found by veterinarians across the country that no other pet health issue is as common today as oral disease among cats and dogs.


Gum diseases such as periodontal disease are quite common, perhaps because while our pet cats and dogs are living much longer and healthier lives than their ancestors, their teeth do not last just as long, and hence need extra care.


Also, because of the selective breeding of many cats and dogs, there is a misalignment of their teeth, because of an overcrowding of the mouth, which leave them vulnerable to dental problems.


Lastly, since our pet cats and dogs don’t hunt for food anymore, they no longer have access to the natural cleaning action provided by Mother Nature when wild cats or dogs sink their teeth into the raw hide of their prey.


Next, let’s talk about the common health issues tackled by pet dentistry, about periodontal disease, and a bit about dental prophylaxis.


What is Periodontal Disease and Why is it so Dangerous for your Pet Cat or Dog?


Periodontal disease or gum disease is initially caused by plaque – which is made of small food particles, bacteria and saliva. Plaque sticks to the surface of the tooth, and must be removed regularly, otherwise, it is likely to build up further along the gumline and calcify into tartar, as the minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and solidify it further.


If the tartar has been formed because of the failure to have had the plaque removed regularly, this would cause an inflammation known as gingivitis and a lot of irritation to the pet’s gums. A pronounced reddening of the gums may be noticed, bad breath may be observed as well.


When the tartar has been formed, it is very important to have it removed and the gums cleaned, using a process called dental prophylaxis. Otherwise, this could cause further damage to the supportive tissues and jawbone, causing really bad breath and, possibly, result in the loss of teeth.


If the tartar has still not been removed, it quickly calcifies around the gums and the gumline, separating the gums from the teeth, forming a small enclosed space, which is a breeding ground for more bacterial growth. When this happens, the pain can be excruciating, loss of teeth is almost a certainty. Eventually, this leads to even worse consequences such bone loss, abscesses and an infection of the kidneys, liver and even the heart valves. Well, this in a nutshell, is called Periodontal disease, and when it happens in a pet cat or dog, it is more often than not, irreversible. However, if the pet is treated by a veterinarian in time, periodontal disease can be stopped, or at least, slowed down and made less severe.


How can you tell that your pet has Periodontal disease and needs a dental cleaning?


This may surprise you, but as much as 80% of dogs and 70% of cats that are three years old or above, have periodontal disease in one form or another. To find out if your pet has the periodontal disease as well, you may check for obvious signs such as Bad breath, loose teeth, discolored teeth, pawing at the mouth, facial swelling, receding gums, any excessive drooling, inability to hold on to food while eating, reluctance to chew food, or even to eat it, visible signs of pain when patted on the head, extreme behavioral changes, lethargy, unusual aggression, or blood stained inflamed gums.


What should you do if you suspect that your pet cat or dog has Periodontal Disease?

Clearly, if your pet cat or dog exhibits any of the symptoms of periodontal disease or even mild forms of gum disease, it is important to visit a veterinarian specializing in pet dentistry at the earliest, before the problem gets any worse. There’s no time to waste, arrange a cat dental or dog dental checkup at a pet animal hospital or clinic ASAP.


What Happens in Pet Dental Care?

Generally, pet dental care consists of:

  •   An oral exam by the veterinarian
  •   Dental Cleaning or Dental Prophylaxis
  •   Home dental care

A pet dental treatment is not much different from what it is for humans – consisting of a complete dental examination, administration of a general anesthetic, dental cleaning or dental prophylaxis, done using the hand as well as with the help of ultrasonic technology, and finally scaling and polishing of the teeth. If any fractured or loose teeth need to be removed, an anesthetic is given, and antibiotics injected to prevent gum infection.


What happens during Oral Exams by the Veterinarian?

During an oral examination of the pet, the veterinarian checks for signs of plaque or tartar formation, inflammation of the gums or gingivitis, symptoms of periodontal disease, fractured or abscessed teeth. Here’s what happens during an oral examination of the pet.

  •  The teeth and gums are examined very closely, and the pet’s bite is noted.
  •  The Pet cat or dog’s head and face are minutely observed for any asymmetry, swelling, or discharges.
  •  The pet cat or dog’s mouth is closely examined and the tongue, tonsils, mucosa, palates as well as the inner surface of the teeth and gums are checked with precision.
  • The salivary glands and the lymph nodes in the neck are observed for consistency or any abnormality.


How does Dental Prophylaxis or Dental Cleaning by the Veterinarian Work?

Dental prophylaxis is a dental cleaning procedure for your pet cat or dog, which is both thorough and extensive and involves the use of technology. Dental prophylaxis is recommended if the state of the pet’s teeth and gums are so poor that even cleaning them regularly at home has no effect whatsoever. This is because, once the tartar has been formed on your pet’s jaw line, there is nothing much you can do. The only solution is to get the dental prophylaxis done.


A typical dental prophylaxis involves the following 10 steps:

Step 1. Pre-dental cleaning physical examination and blood collection for pre-anesthetic laboratory evaluation

Step 2. Administration of pre-anesthetic and anesthetic to the pet

Step 3. Subjecting the pet’s mouth to X-ray radiography, closely examining the state of all the teeth as well as the bones in the mouth.

Step 4. Flushing the pet’s mouth with a special solution aimed to kill all the bacteria within.

Step 5. Thoroughly cleaning the teeth with instruments called Scalers after keeping it under the effect of anesthesia. An ultrasonic scaler is the primary instrument used and in some cases hand scaling may be needed.  This is important to remove the tartar buildup at the gumline.

Step 6. Polishing the teeth thoroughly, using a special prophy-paste to disclose any affected areas left untreated, and, to closely remove any minute scratches.

Step 7. Inspecting all the teeth, the gums and tongue and noting down any affected areas.

Step 8. Flushing the pet’s mouth with a special solution to kill the remaining bacteria, flouride treatment and sealer may be applied, to slow down plaque formation in the future.

Step 9. Making a note of anything abnormal that needs further examination, treatment or follow up.

Step 10. Deciding on the next treatment procedure to be followed to safeguard the pet’s dental health.


What about Daily Home Oral Care for Your Pet?


Daily home oral care for pets is quite simple and you can do it yourself at home, without any medical assistance from a specialist. However, if you notice any abnormality, you should take your pet cat or dog immediately for a pet dental checkup by a specialist in pet dentistry. Basically, it involves brushing the pet’s teeth regularly, removing any formation of plaque, flushing its mouth with a special solution and checking for any visible signs of periodontal disease.



We hope you have found the information given by us on pet dental care quite useful. Remember to take your pet for a dental checkup at at the Oak Tree Animal Hospital, in Brandon, Florida this February, which is observed by pet owners all over the United States as the Pet Dental Health Month.