Dog getting teeth brushed .

Routine wellness exams help reduce the need for urgent or emergency pet care. The opportunity to see a pet in their prime is a fantastic way to keep them healthy and happy long into the future. 

Routine dental exams are just one way a pet’s owners and veterinary team can influence long term health and vitality. Without professional pet dental care, a pet may become vulnerable to periodontal, gum, disease and serious life-threatening health conditions. 

A Little Goes a Long Way

We cover a lot of ground during a pet wellness exam, but a priority is to establish and maintain a preventive approach to dental health. The importance of routine brushing at home cannot be underestimated. To receive the benefits of brushing, it’s best to attempt this exercise every day (although a couple times a week is pretty good, too). 

It can take a significant amount of time and patience to convince a pet to accept brushing. Make it part of their regular grooming time, provide treats, and offer lots of praise. There are also prescription diets, nutritional supplements and treats, and even water additives to inhibit plaque and tartar.

Throughout the Years

Generally speaking, pets receive the most benefit from dental cleanings when scheduled annually. The chance to examine, clean, and digitally X-ray each tooth every 12 months minimizes the long-lasting and far-reaching consequences of oral bacteria, tartar, and other common dental issues that could otherwise worsen and spread. 

A common outcome for pets that do not receive regular dental cleanings is surgical tooth extraction. Recovery times vary but pets tend to bounce back quickly. Missing teeth can make chewing hard kibble more difficult; soft or wet food may be best. 

Bad Breath and Beyond

The first obvious indication that a pet is due for an exam and cleaning is bad breath. This is caused by oral bacteria that’s formed a slimy film on the teeth (plaque). When plaque hardens into tartar, typically along the gum line, the gums may slowly begin to recede. In turn, the growing spaces between the teeth and gums become large enough that the teeth break or fall out. 

That’s already incredibly frightful for most pet owners to reckon with, but what’s worse is that oral bacteria can travel through the bloodstream, causing major problems in the heart, liver, and kidneys. Systemic illness is a very real threat, but can be completely avoided through proactive dental care. 

Know the Signs

If bad breath isn’t stopped in its tracks, the following symptoms of periodontal disease may develop:

  • Bleeding, swollen, inflamed gums
  • Discolored teeth
  • Cracked or fractured teeth
  • Bone loss
  • Tooth loss
  • Food avoidance or dropping food
  • Chewing on one side
  • Weight loss 
  • Behavioral changes including hiding, aggression, withdrawal

Dental problems are no fun, a fact shared by pets and people alike. Let’s do all we can for the pets we love, including brushing their teeth and maintaining a preventive schedule of teeth cleaning and examinations. 

Your friends at Sunrise Boulevard Animal Hospital are always here to help you and your pet. Please reach out to us at (916) 726-2334 with any questions or concerns.