Puppy and Kitten dental care
Preventative dental care is not only important for humans, but for dogs and cats as well. Initially, baby teeth form in the first weeks of life. These are very sharp and may break off early with little or no consequences. Between 4 and 6 months of age the baby teeth will begin to fall out and the adult teeth will come in. It is possible that you may notice blood on your pet's toys and you may not find any of the baby teeth don't panic!!! Your veterinarian will evaluate the new adult teeth to see that they have come in properly and that the baby teeth are not retained.
At 6 months of age, when your pet comes in to be spayed or neutered, we strongly recommend that a fluoride treatment be applied to your pet's teeth while he or she is under anesthesia. Just as with young children, it strengthens the enamel and prevents cavities and plaque formation. It is more effective when done at this young age for it penetrates deeper into the tooth, helping to prevent decay later on.
The enamel of young adult teeth is smooth and resistant to penetration by bacteria. As your pet ages, the enamel becomes pitted, allowing bacteria to get a foothold and multiply. Over time cavities and plaque deposits will develop causing that bad smell that comes from your pet's mouth. As the gums become diseased, they recede and expose the teeth and their roots. Eventually the bacteria spread via the blood to the heart, liver and kidneys, damaging these organs and shortening the life of your pet. Unfortunately, hard biscuits, dry food and crunchy treats alone will not keep older pet's teeth clean. All animals should have their teeth brushed regularly, preferably daily. It is much easier to do if your pet is taught from an early age. Here are some tips on how to get your puppy accustomed to having his or her teeth brushed:
- Have your puppy/kitten used to having your fingers in its mouth. Use something good tasting such as garlic, chicken soup, or tuna oil.
- Use a good medicated dental cleaner on your finger. Your vet will recommend the proper one. NOTE: human toothpaste is made with detergents; if swallowed, it may upset your pet's stomach.
- Progress to using a piece of gauze with the dental cleaner on their teeth.
- Slowly introduce a brush in an up and down motion.
- Brush teeth as often as possible. After each meal is ideal. If this is not possible, at least clean them every other day.
If your pet has already developed tartar, plaque and/or cavities, much can be done to save his or her teeth as well as make your pet's mouth healthy and comfortable. Initially, a complete physical evaluation will be done. If needed, a complete cleaning with an ultrasonic scaler, gum treatment, possible cavity repair, necessary extraction and a polishing are done under general gas anesthesia. Even if you are unable to brush your pet's teeth, there are still products that will help keep your pet's mouth healthier between cleanings. These are antiseptic cleaners which if applied daily will decrease the number of bacteria therefore reducing disease.
Dental care is one of the most neglected pet health needs. Puppies and kittens can become accustomed to proper dental care by periodic brushing with a pet toothpaste. Periodontal disease is very common in older dogs and causes bad breath, and often serious infections. A dental exam can determine whether your pet needs preventive dental care such as scaling, polishing, and antibiotics.
- Oral disease is the most common health problem treated in small animal clinics today.
- An oral examination and dental prophylaxis is recommended annually for all adult dogs and cats.
The following steps suggested by veterinarians can put a bite into potential health problems:
- TAKE YOUR PET TO YOUR VETERINARIAN FOR A DENTAL EXAM.
Don't wait for his annual checkup if you suspect a problem.
- BEGIN A DENTAL CARE REGIMEN AT HOME. Your veterinarian can suggest steps that may include brushing your pet's teeth. One of the most convenient and effective ways to combat oral disease is feeding specially formulated foods proven effective in removing plaque and tartar buildup. The Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council, an organization initiated by members of the American Veterinary Dental Society to guide consumers, appears on products that meet defined standards for plaque and tartar control in dogs and cats.
- SCHEDULE REGULAR VETERINARY DENTAL CHECKUPS. These are essential in helping your veterinarian monitor the progress of your pet's dental health routine.
Please, take pet dental care to heart. It's one way to ensure good health and vitality for your best friend.
Contact Staten Island Veterinary Group for any further information.