Many pet parents may be surprised to learn that dental disease is considered the most common medical condition in dogs and cats. Dental disease is known more accurately as periodontal disease because it affects the gums in addition to the teeth. There is growing scientific evidence that indicates that periodontal disease is a risk factor for serious diseases such as heart and kidney disease in pets1. Although periodontal disease is more common in small breed dogs, it can affect all breeds of dogs as well as cats. This condition becomes more prevalent as pets age, and it is estimated that about 85% of pets will have some degree of periodontal disease by 3 years of age2.
So, what options does the pet parent have in helping to prevent periodontal disease? One thing hasn’t changed over time: the gold standard for keeping periodontal disease at bay in pets is daily tooth brushing, being sure to use a toothbrush and toothpaste made specifically for pets. It’s also important to start brushing your pet’s teeth early in life, before tartar has a chance to form and so that your pet gets used to the process at a young age. Because some pet parents may not be able to brush their pets’ teeth, there are now effective alternatives available, including special dental diets, dental chews, wipes and water additives. Pet parents should be sure to monitor their pets for the common signs of periodontal disease: bad breath, bleeding and inflamed gums, sensitive teeth, and a reduced appetite. Pets in the early stages of the disease may not show any signs at all, so seeking veterinary attention is critical. Pet parents should make sure they have their pets evaluated by a veterinarian at least once a year.
2 http://www.vetstreet.com/care/dental-cleaning-for-dogs-and-cats (accessed January 2018)