Did you know that dental disease is one of the most common health issues in dogs and cats? Not only can dental disease be excruciating but also costly. Great news, dental disease can be reduced and prevented with some TLC. Like any health issue, prevention is key and knowledge is power. That is why it is so important to provide your pet with proper pet oral care both professionally and at home. As dogs age it is even more crucial to maintain that healthy smile. If you are a new pup or kitty parent it is important that you get your new fury bundle of joy use to having his teeth brush by starting their dental care at a young age. For those who have never brushed your pets teeth it is never to late to get your dog or cat on the road to a great smile. First step is a setting up an appointment for a  proper vet dental check-up and then having your vet speak to you about a regular at home oral care regime. There is no time like the present as we celebrate Feb. Pet Dental Month. Remember that if dental disease is left untreated it could lead to tooth loss, infection and much worse.  Here are a few dental diseases that you should be aware of.

Plaque: Dogs rarely get cavities, but are prone to gum disease and excess tartar build-up on the teeth. Food particles and bacteria collect along the gumline forming plaque. Routine home care 2-3x’s per week can remove this plaque.

Tartar: If plaque is not removed, minerals in the saliva combine with the plaque and form tartar (or calculus) which adheres strongly to the teeth. Plaque starts to mineralize 3-5 days after it forms. The tartar is irritating to the gums and causes an  inflammation known as gingivitis. This can be seen as reddening of the gums adjacent to the teeth. It also causes bad breath. At this point it is necessary to make an appointment with your vet in order to remove the tartar with special instruments called scalers, and then polish the teeth.

Periodontal Disease: If the tartar is not removed, it builds up under the gums. It separates the gums from the teeth to form “pockets” and encourages even more bacterial growth. At this point the damage is irreversible, and called “periodontal” disease. It can be very painful and can lead to loose teeth, abscesses, and bone loss or infection. As bacterial growth continues to increase, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream. This can cause infection of the heart valves (endocarditis),liver, and kidneys. If treated by your veterinarian with special instruments and procedures, periodontal disease can be slowed or stopped.

So paw pals let get brushin’!