By Jessica Vogelsang, DVM
Believe it or not, periodontal disease is the number one condition diagnosed in veterinary clinics- so if you’re looking at your dog’s teeth with some concern, you’re not alone!
Like the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Preventing dental disease is more cost effective and better for your pet’s health than trying to reverse it down the line. Don’t wait until your pet has overt signs of dental disease such as visible tartar and halitosis before implementing a home care routine. Regular toothbrushing is the best way to keep your pet’s teeth healthy at home. It may take some time to get him or her accustomed to it at first, but with lots of praise and reward it can be an easy task.
Some pets do well with dental treats and kibble that are proven to reduce tartar and plaque accumulation. While many products may make this claim, look for treats with the Veterinary Oral Health council seal of approval on the package. These are proven products approved by multiple veterinary dental organizations.
Lastly, don’t let home care substitute for medical care. Getting at the plaque on the surface of the teeth is only half the battle; scaling underneath the gums is crucial to prevent disease below the gum lines, which can cause tooth decay, painful infection, and tooth loss. This requires general anesthesia so must be done in a clinic.
If you notice any of the following signs of oral disease, talk to your vet: bad breath, reluctance to eat, drooling, or picking up kibble then dropping it. The earlier periodontal disease is identified and treated, the better it is for your pet (and your wallet!)