Westbury Animal Hospital
713.723.3666 · 4917 S. Willow Dr. Houston, Texas 77035 

Dental Health Awareness

                Have you smelled your dog’s breath lately? When your kitty yawns, do you ever take the opportunity to look inside?  February is National Pet Dental Health Month! It’s easy to overlook that our pets require regular dental care just like we do. Not only does it provide a higher quality of life for you pet, but regular dental cleanings help prevent local infections and systemic infections to the heart, kidneys, and other organs.

                Let’s first start on what signs you should be looking out for. Common signs of dental disease include bad breath, reddened gums, bleeding from the gums, pawing at the mouth/face, and difficulty chewing or avoidance of hard foods. If you see these, you should schedule an appointment to have your pet’s mouth evaluated by a veterinarian. This gives your veterinarian the best opportunity to gauge the degree of disease and what therapy is required. However, a good percentage of dental disease is below the gum line where it can’t be seen by the naked eye. So, how do I tell?

                Dental x-rays help to reveal disease below the gums and give the best evaluation of your pet’s dental health. These radiographs and the dental cleaning itself can only be performed under anesthesia. Unfortunately, I can’t tell your pet to lie still while I use different instruments (some of them loud!) to clean teeth. The procedure is generally brief depending on the number of teeth that need to be taken out. Most pets go home later in the day after their cleaning. Cleanings performed under anesthesia are considered the gold standard in keeping up with your pet’s dental health.

                But, there’s more to it than that! It may seem daunting, but it is possible to brush your pet’s teeth. Now, I won’t be unreasonable and claim that this should be done daily. However, even brushing your dog or cat’s teeth once or twice weekly can make a difference! You can experiment with different types of toothbrushes and flavors of pet-safe toothpaste. With a lot of patience, teeth brushing can seem more like a treat rather than a chore for you pet. Remember, it’s never too late to start brushing!

Speaking of treats, there are several different chews and edible treats that are design to help fight the build up of tartar. While these are not going to stop the formation of tartar, they will help slow it down. Sometimes, different dental treats can cause mild upset stomach. Always give a test treat first to see how your pet will respond.

So, take the extra time to notice the signs. If you think it might be time for your pet’s smile to get an upgrade, please reach out with any questions or concerns.

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