Did you know that proper dental care is essential for your furry friends? Poor oral hygiene can lead to various health issues in pets, including gum disease, tooth loss, and even organ damage. That is why it’s crucial to prioritize pet dental health. In this article, we’ll explore why oral care matters for your four-legged companion and the steps you can take to ensure their dental well-being.

Pet Dental Health Myths Debunked

There are some myths and misconceptions surrounding pet dental health. Let’s debunk some of the most common ones:

1. Pets don’t need dental care: According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, by age 3 your dog or cat will likely have some early evidence of periodontal disease, which will worsen as your pet grows older if you do not take preventive measures to prevent the disease. Early detection and treatment are critical because advanced periodontal disease can cause severe problems and pain for your pet.

2. Dry food cleans pets’ teeth: While dry food may have some abrasive action on teeth, it is not enough to maintain proper dental hygiene. Regular brushing and professional cleanings are essential for complete dental care.

3. Dental problems only affect older pets: Dental problems can occur at any age, even in young pets. Starting dental care early on can help prevent dental issues.

4. Bones are good for your pet’s teeth: Pets can break or crack their teeth on bones, especially if the bones are too hard or if the pet chews them aggressively. Bones can splinter or fracture, causing injury to the pet’s mouth, teeth, or digestive tract. Dental toys or chews are much safer options.

5. Dogs and cats with dental pain will not eat: A pet may have difficulty eating with dental pain, but due to their survival instincts, they will typically eat even when suffering from tooth pain. Please do not assume your pet has no tooth pain because you see them eating.

Dental Diseases in Dogs and Cats

Pet dental problems start with plaque that hardens into tartar. Tartar above the gumline can often easily be seen and removed, but plaque and tartar below the gumline is damaging and sets the stage for infection and damage to the jawbone and the tissues that connect the tooth to the jawbone. Veterinarians grade periodontal disease on a scale of 0 (normal) to 4 (severe). Here are the types of dental diseases in pets:

  • Gingivitis: Inflammation of the gums is a common early sign of dental issues caused by plaque and tartar accumulation on the teeth.
  • Periodontal Disease: This disease is an advanced stage of gingivitis where inflammation extends to the supporting structures of the teeth. It can lead to tooth loss and affect overall health. According to the NIH: Periodontal disease is one of the most common diseases affecting dogs, with a reported prevalence of at least 80% in dogs over 3 years of age.
  • Broken or Fractured Teeth: Dogs may break or fracture their teeth, especially if they chew on hard objects.
  • Oral Tumors: While relatively rare, tumors can develop in the mouth, affecting dental health.
  • Tooth Resorption: Tooth resorption involves the body’s gradual breakdown and absorption of a tooth’s structure. The exact cause remains unclear, but it involves special cells called odontoclasts, which typically aid tooth remodeling. In resorption cases, these cells become overactive, destroying the tooth, starting from the root surface and progressing inward. The trigger for this activation remains unknown, though age and existing dental issues increase the risk.
  • Juvenile Gingivitis: Juvenile gingivitis can occur in both kittens and puppies but is more prevalent in kittens. It is unclear what causes gingivitis in kittens and puppies that are too young to develop excessive tartar buildup. Genetic factors and immune hypersensitivity may affect the immune system’s reaction to bacterial film on their teeth. This overreaction first leads to the gums becoming inflamed and sensitive and, later, eroded. Aggressive and proper disease management until the pet reaches age two can improve their chances of recovery. Emphasis lies on keeping the teeth as bacteria-free as possible and supporting the pet’s immune system.
Signs of Pet Dental Health Problems

Pets are masters at concealing their discomfort, making it vital for pet parents to be constant, keen observers. Being proactive can make all the difference in your pet’s dental well-being. Here are common signs to watch for:

  • Bad breath: Persistent bad breath, often described as “fishy” or “rotten,” can indicate dental problems in pets.
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums: Inflamed or bleeding gums may indicate gum disease or other dental issues.
  • Difficulty eating or chewing: If your pet is having trouble eating or chewing, it may be due to tooth pain or discomfort caused by dental problems.
  • Pawing at the mouth: Pets experiencing dental pain may paw at their mouth to alleviate the discomfort.
  • Drooling excessively: Excessive drooling can be a sign of dental issues, especially if accompanied by other symptoms such as bad breath or difficulty eating.
  • Changes in behavior: Dental pain can cause changes in your pet’s behavior, including irritability, aggression, or reluctance when you touch around the head and mouth.

If you notice any of these signs in your pet, please get in touch with us so we can examine its teeth. Early detection and treatment can prevent further complications and maintain your pet’s dental health.

At Home Dental Care is Essential

We have found that many pet parents don’t brush their pets’ teeth because they need to learn how or have busy schedules. But thanks to the American Veterinary Medical Association, we have a brief yet informative video on how to get started. Watch the video and learn how simple it is and that it doesn’t take much time at all! Your effort will make your pet’s tail wag or whiskers twitch joyfully! Just click on the picture below to watch.

Approved Pet Oral Care Products

Pets’ oral health can benefit significantly from oral pet care products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Care Council (VOHC). The VOHC is a trusted organization that evaluates and approves products designed to promote pet oral health. These products undergo rigorous testing to effectively reduce plaque and tartar buildup, control bad breath, and support overall dental hygiene in dogs and cats. To view the products, click on the links below:

Oral Products for Dogs

Oral Products for Cats

Integrative Veterinary Care for Your Pets’ Dental Health

When it comes to pet dental health, AWRC has various approaches to promote oral hygiene and address dental issues. Here are some integrative methods we can use:

1. Nutritional Counseling: At AWRC, we emphasize the importance of proper nutrition in maintaining oral health. Our veterinarians may recommend species-appropriate diets or diets specifically formulated to support dental health.

2. Dietary Supplements: Dietary supplements that support oral health. For example, probiotics can help maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the mouth, while omega-3 fatty acids have anti-inflammatory properties that can benefit gum health.

3. Herbal Remedies: Certain herbs have antimicrobial properties and can help support oral health in pets. We may recommend herbal supplements or oral rinses containing ingredients that help reduce bacteria and inflammation in pets’ mouths.

4. Acupuncture: Acupuncture can be used to address dental issues such as tooth pain or inflammation. By stimulating specific points of the body, acupuncture can help alleviate discomfort and promote healing in pets with dental problems.

5. Dental Cleanings: We perform dental cleanings using non-toxic dental cleaning solutions and minimally invasive techniques. We incorporate holistic anesthesia protocols and pain management strategies to ensure the safety and comfort of the pet during dental procedures.

6. Regular Oral Exams: Our veterinarians perform thorough dental examinations to identify early signs of dental disease and develop personalized treatment plans to address any issues detected.

7. Education and Lifestyle Recommendations: Our experienced team at AWRC are more than happy to take the time to educate pet owners about proper dental care practices and lifestyle factors that can impact oral health. We provide guidance on toothbrushing techniques, dental chews, and other home care strategies to help maintain optimal oral hygiene in your pets.

Conclusion: Investing in Pet Dental Health for a Happier, Healthier Pet Conclusion

To prevent plaque and tartar buildup, regular dental care is essential to keep your pets free from dental disease. Dental care includes brushing their teeth at home, providing dental treats and toys, and scheduling professional dental cleanings with AWRC. We cannot overstress early detection and treatment of dental issues to maintain a pet’s oral health and overall well-being.

Early detection and treatment of dental issues is essential to maintain a pet’s oral health and overall well-being. Our integrative veterinary practice takes a holistic approach to pet dental health, addressing the underlying causes of dental problems and focusing on prevention and treatment. By combining conventional veterinary medicine with holistic therapies, we aim to optimize your beloved furry companions’ overall health and well-being.

Warm regards,
Animal Wellness and Rehab Center, Knoxville, TN