By Elizabeth Hepner
Calvert Veterinary Center
Does your pooch have bad breath? Does your cat drop kibbles while trying to chew them? Has your pet’s appetite decreased? All of these can be signs of dental disease.
Without proper home care, plaque and tartar can build up on your pet’s teeth, leading to periodontal disease or loss of the bone around the teeth. This painful infection can lead to teeth falling out and weight loss in extreme cases. The buildup of plaque and tartar can also negatively impact your pet’s internal organs — such as the heart, liver and kidneys — since the bacteria from the mouth can travel through the blood to these organs. Luckily, there are many things you can do at home to help prevent the development of dental disease.
Studies have shown that all pets older than 3 have some degree of dental disease that should be addressed. Proper home care is essential to preventing the buildup of plaque that turns into tartar, causing dental disease. Daily tooth brushing is the best way to prevent tartar formation. Use toothpaste specifically formulated for pets, one that will not be harmful if swallowed. Using human toothpaste can be harmful. You can use a pet toothbrush or a soft-bristle pediatric toothbrush if your pet’s mouth is very small. There are also dental diets, chews, treats, rinses and gels that can be used at home to help prevent disease. Visit the Veterinary Oral Health Counsel website (www.vohc.org) for a list of veterinary approved products.
Once tartar has built up on the teeth, a dental cleaning is necessary to remove the surface tartar and clean under the gum line. This must be done under anesthesia to allow for a thorough oral exam, dental X-rays to be taken, and allow for proper scaling and polishing of the teeth. Just as in humans, a lot of dental disease is hidden up under the gum line and can only be detected with dental X-rays. These are now an integral part of a thorough dental cleaning procedure. Once all of the diseased teeth are addressed and the healthy teeth are cleaned, your pet will be on the right track for a good home oral health care routine.
Having a good yearly oral exam as part of your pet’s annual health checkup is the best place to start. The knowledgeable veterinarians at Calvert Veterinary Center have more than 28 years of combined experience helping pets stay healthy and happy. Call today for an appointment at 410-360-PAWS or schedule online at www.calvertvet.com. Calvert Veterinary Center is conveniently located at 4100 Mountain Road and has been proudly serving the Pasadena community for more than 14 years.