Pet Dental Health Month
An astounding 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age three, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS). The most common dental problem among pets is periodontal disease, a painful condition that animals often suffer in silence.
“Animals can suffer the same kinds of dental problems as humans, including infection, severe pain, and fractured teeth,” explains Gary Goldstein, D.V.M., head of the dental service at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center. Fortunately, pet owners can help prevent dental disease in their pets by providing dental care.
“Dental care for animals is similar to dental care for humans, only animals can’t brush their own teeth,” Goldstein says. To prevent dental problems, Goldstein recommends that pet owners:
- Schedule regular pet dental exams.
- Brush pet’s teeth with specially formulated pet toothpaste. Do not use toothpaste formulated for humans.
- Feed their animals food that reduces the accumulation of plaque and tartar.
- Provide pets with dental chews, rawhide, or dental bones. Avoid hard bones, such as cow hooves.
- Encourage use of exercise toys. Check with your veterinarian about which toys are safe for pets.
All pets are at risk for developing dental problems, so it is important to check your pet’s mouth and teeth often for warning signs. Warning signs include:
- Bad breath
- Tartar buildup on the teeth
- Swollen, receding, or bleeding gums
- Fractured or abscessed teeth
- Change in eating habits
Take your pet to the veterinarian if any of these symptoms are present. They could be a signs of a serious dental health problem.
“Proper dental care is critical to a pet’s overall good health,” Goldstein explains. “If oral infections such as periodontal diseases are left untreated, they can travel through the bloodstream and damage internal organs.”
Goldstein is one of only two board-certified dentistry veterinarians in Minnesota. He and his staff provide routine cleaning and examinations, along with a variety of specialty services such as orthodontics, surgery, and disease treatment.
Dedicated to improving the health and well being of animals, the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine is one of only four veterinary schools in the nation with a full-time dental practice. For more information about dentistry services at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Medical Center, or to schedule a dental appointment for your pet, call 612-625-1919. Visit Pet Dental Health for more details about Pet Dental Health Month.