February is National Pet Dental Month and that means it’s time to have your pet’s teeth checked by your veterinarian. Just like humans, pets also need routine dental care. Seventy-five percent of cats and dogs over the age of four have dental disease. Yearly check ups should be done by your veterinarian to identify any signs of dental disease. A complete exam might reveal gingivitis, tartar buildup, gum recession, loose teeth, tooth root abscesses, and oral tumors. In addition, untreated dental disease can even lead to kidney and heart problems.
If your pet already has dental disease a complete dental cleaning is necessary. This involves cleaning not only the surface of the teeth but getting under the gumline, where the majority of bacteria and tartar are found. In order to thoroughly clean an animal’s teeth anesthesia is required. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet for anesthetic risks and talk with you about steps to make the process as safe as possible. This may involve pre-anesthetic bloodwork, chest x-rays, and the use of IV catheters and fluids during the procedure.
Remember that early diagnosis and treatment are the best defenses against serious dental disease. Take advantage of the savings offered at many veterinary hospitals this month and have your pet’s teeth checked.