How Dental Disease Can Affect Your Pet
I will be the first to admit that I don’t bush my dog’s teeth. I know it is a bad thing to do and as a canine behaviorist I should be the strongest advocate for canine health care this just one of those things that I always forget to do, as do most pet owners.
When I adopted my Siberian Husky, Ineka, many years ago the first thing I noticed was he was missing a Canine tooth, one of the large pointed ones. I don’t know if he lost it due to injury or decay but it didn’t seem to bother him. After several years and of course many bones (said to work well in canine hygiene) we did take him to our vet’s office to have his teeth cleaned. Mind you he was well over 10 years old at that time. They had to do blood work on him to make sure that the anesthesia would not harm him and they had to put him to sleep for the procedure. Several hours later his teeth were cleaned and they had to pull a few of them because they had cavities. I was told this is how they do it now.
Dental Care for Your Pet
If you notice an odor coming from your pet’s mouth it may be a result of some form of dental disease. Your veterinarian can correctly diagnose the problem and suggest treatments. Here are some of the basic facts about dental disease.
According to experts, many pets over the age of two have some form of periodontal disease. Any odor other than nice, clean-smelling breath may indicate a problem. Dental disease is graded in four steps:
Grade I – some tartar and breath odor.
Grade II – heavy tartar and some gum recession; gums are reddened and infected.
Grade III – severe tartar and gum recession; teeth are often loose, gums very reddened and inflamed, severe breath odor.
Grade IV – severe tartar with tooth loss, severely infected gums, gums very receded, swollen and bleeding, and tooth roots are exposed, severe breath odor.
Considering that a human visits the dentist for a toothache, imagine how your pet feels with inflamed gums, heavy tartar and loose teeth. Eating may become difficult. In addition to the discomfort, your pet is at risk for serious health conditions. As bacteria collects along the gum line, it produces acids. These acids gradually inflame the gum tissue, and the ligaments that hold teeth in place. As tartar builds, and works its way under the gum, bacteria and acid continue to erode more tissue. Teeth become loosened, and may start to fall out on their own. Bone from the jaw also becomes affected and starts to reabsorb, leaving loose teeth. As the mouth tissue becomes more swollen and infected, it will eventually start bleeding. Now the bloodstream can pick up the bacteria from the mouth and circulate it through your dog or cat’s entire body. Dental disease has been linked to kidney, heart and sinus infections. This is why your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics before your pet has any dental work done, as well as after any procedure.
Many clients have said their dog acts like a puppy again once the diseased teeth and resulting infections have been addressed. Loose teeth are usually removed, because too much damage has already occurred, and they can not be saved. Your dog or cat can actually eat quite well and get along with no teeth if necessary and can live a longer and healthier life with a healthy mouth. We urge you to visit your veterinarian and have your pet’s teeth and gums evaluated.
This article is provided as a general overview of the topic. Always consult your veterinarian for specific information related to diseases or medical care for pets.