Oral health is vital for all pets, but for those approaching the golden years, routine cleanings and exams are of the utmost importance. February marks National Pet Dental Health month, and our team is excited to broaden your understanding of senior pet dental care.
A Worthy Venture
The vast majority of pets over the age of three are affected by periodontal disease in one form or another. There are four stages of this painful disease that range from gingivitis to tooth loss, which is why your pet’s dental health is a major facet of his or her lifetime wellness. At Godspeed Animal Care, we include an assessment of your pet’s teeth and gums during every routine exam.
Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is nothing to smile about. Over the course of your senior pet’s life, plaque and tartar can accumulate, infecting the area below the gum line. Left untreated, periodontal disease can lead to several systemic illnesses that affect the liver, heart, and kidneys. This disease can also result in certain cancers, tooth root abscesses, jaw fractures, and can complicate symptoms of diabetic pets.
Symptoms of periodontal infections include:
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Painful or slow eating
- Loss of appetite
- Inflamed or bleeding gums
- Discolored teeth
- Loose, broken, missing, or worn teeth
It’s important to understand your senior pet may not display any discernible symptoms. However, if we see marked levels of calculus (caused by plaque and tartar) on your pet’s teeth, we may suggest a thorough dental examination and cleaning under general anesthesia.
Ideally, senior pet dental care includes at least one professional cleaning per year, but certain conditions may require additional visits. We adhere to the guidelines of the American Animal Hospital Association to properly prepare your senior pet for a dental procedure and monitor him or her throughout the process. Digital x-rays are also taken to fully understand the state of your senior pet’s teeth and gums.
Senior Pet Dental Care at Home
Daily tooth brushing may not be embraced immediately by your senior pet, but with your praise and extra cuddling, he or she will adapt.
First, acquire a pet toothbrush and toothpaste (never human toothpaste!), and slowly introduce your senior pet to them. Then:
- Acclimate your pet to the taste and feel of your new dental tools
- Slowly insert the toothbrush into his or her mouth
- Concentrate on the upper, outer molars where most tarter builds up
- Aim for a total of 2 minutes, split between the upper and lower teeth
- Remain calm and patient
- Reward your senior pet with accolades, grooming, or a special opportunity
You can also supplement your at-home efforts with dental rinses, chews, treats, and food approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.
We hope the national effort for better pet dental health spurs you to develop a preventive plan for your senior pet’s health. Please let us know how we can help!