This February, we wanted to take some time to highlight the importance of caring for your pet's smile! February is National Pet Dental Health Month, so now would be a great time to evaluate your pet's dental health needs. Just like humans, cats and dogs need to maintain good oral health in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Oral health is directly connected to overall wellness, and it can be a sign of underlying health issues. Keep reading to learn more about common dental health problems in pets, and how you should be caring for their smile regularly.

Cat Dental Care

Wild cats will typically care for their teeth by chewing on bones or grass. Domesticated cats may not have the same option, so it is important that cat owners do what they can to help care for their teeth. Cats can experience tooth pain, gum disease, and other uncomfortable dental health problems. Because cats are quite elusive, we may not always realize that they are in pain. Common signs your cat may be experiencing an oral health issue include ignoring their food, not drinking enough water, if they have persistent bad breath, or even if they seem to be losing weight. Pawing at the face and drooling could also be a sign of oral health problems.

Cats typically start experiencing oral health problems around age three, so make sure your cat is getting regular wellness check-ups. Preventative care is always easier and more affordable in the long run, rather than treating an emergency when it happens. At wellness visits, our Tucson vet can take a look at your cat's teeth, gums, and the back of the throat just to make sure there are no irregularities. Healthy cats should have strong, white teeth and healthy gums. Periodontal disease is very common in felines because plaque and tartar can accumulate on their teeth and cause an infection. For severe cases of gum disease, teeth may actually start to decay and they may need to be removed.

To keep your cat's teeth and gums clean, you can try to brush using gauze or a glove to rub cat-specific toothpaste on their teeth. This may be difficult if you have a resistant cat, but try to do this as often as possible, even daily if your cat is willing. Never use human toothpaste on cats because it can make your cat very sick if ingested. Our Tucson vet also offers professional dental cleanings for cats with serious oral health issues or cats who are totally resistant to at-home brushing. This process puts the cat under anesthesia so that their smile can be thoroughly cleaned. Talk to our vet to find out if your cat needs a professional dental cleaning, and make sure you stay up-to-date with their regular wellness visits.

Dog Dental Care

Dogs require dental hygiene routines just like humans. Using special dog-toothpaste and a dog-specific toothbrush, try to brush their teeth daily to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Regular toothpaste made for humans can cause vomiting if it is ingested by dogs, so never use it. Pet-specific toothbrushes are also preferable to regular toothbrushes because they use bristles specifically designed for your pet's mouth and will clean their smile without harming their teeth or gums. Professional dental cleanings are also available for dogs with more serious oral health problems, like advanced periodontal disease or dental decay. Talk to our Tucson vet to find out if your dog could benefit from a professional dental cleaning under anesthesia.

Signs your dog may be experiencing an oral health issue include not eating, not drinking enough water, rejecting treats, lethargy, pawing at their face, excessive drooling, bleeding in the mouth, and swelling in the face or neck. The best way to take care of oral health issues in dogs is to stay up to date with their annual wellness visits. Preventative care is always a better option than treating a health issue in pets, and it can save you a lot of money on future treatments. Make sure you are bringing your pet in at least once per year for a visit, and possibly more if they suffer from chronic illness. Dogs with certain health conditions may be more prone to oral health problems, so ask our Tucson vet how often you should be bringing them in for a check-up. Ask our team about Tucson dog dental cleanings to find out if your furry friend could benefit from a professional cleaning under sedation.

Sedation Dentistry for Pets

Anesthesia is used for professional cleanings for both cats and dogs because it helps keep pets and staff safe. Our pets cannot understand that they need to be still while their teeth are being cleaned, so we must sedate them to complete the treatment. Dental cleanings for pets use special tools that can be sharp and loud and could either injure your pet or scare them during treatment. All vets sedate pets for dental cleanings because it allows them to safely clean their teeth and gums. While under anesthesia, x-rays can also be taken to make sure your pet has no underlying health problems. Anesthesia will always have some level of risk, but it is a safe and routine procedure that is used to help keep your pet safe and protected from preventable health issues. Talk to our team if you have any questions about how sedation might affect your pet.

To learn more about pet dental health, talk to the team here at Pet Doctor! We can help you understand your pet's unique dental health risks and offer advice on how you can properly care for their smile at home. Every animal is different, and some may be more resistant to brushing than others. We can help you find a method of cleaning their smile so that their teeth and gums can stay healthy and strong! Call our Tucson vet at (520) 829-5166 or fill out a contact form directly on our site and a member of our team will reach out at your convenience.