February is National Pet Dental Health Month

I once complained about my dog's breath and tooth decay to a friend. Her answer was ``How do you think your teeth would be as an adult if you had never seen a dentist, or had a cleaning?
As pet owners, we can tend to joke about our dog or cat’s bad breath, as if it is a natural or inevitable condition. But the underlying causes are no joke, especially as our pets age.
Bad breath is a clear sign of dental disease and often can indicate infection. Oral pain is the same for dogs and cats as it is for people. They just don’t show it until it’s severe.
Oral disease can cause a constant state of bacterial infection, which can then affect other body systems and organs, such as the heart, kidneys, and liver. Oral disease can also result in extensive surgical tooth extractions later in life, when risk is higher.
Most people are more afraid of anesthesia than oral infection, which often causes them to delay dental procedures until the disease is very advanced. By then, your pet is in pain and may even lose its appetite, because of the discomfort.
Roosevelt’s veterinarians are committed to preventing and treating oral disease. Your attending veterinarian will perform a comprehensive oral exam during your pet’s annual health exam, and depending on several factors, may make recommendations for the most effective treatments at that time.
Roosevelt can also offer guidance for you on how to prevent the advancement of oral decay and gum disease.  Ideal dental care starts at the puppy and kitten stages. Studies have estimated that by 3 years of age, over 80% of dogs and cats have periodontal disease.
To make sure our patients are safe and comfortable, we tailor our anesthetic protocols to each pet. Throughout the procedure, there are two to three people around the dental table, monitoring all parameters at all times.
Keep an eye out for these signs that could indicate a dental health problem in your cat or dog:
 ♦  Bad breath
 ♦  Cracked or loose teeth
 ♦  Discolored teeth
 ♦  Bleeding or swollen gums
♦   Reduced appetite or refusal to eat.
The key takeaway here?  Don’t put off your pet’s dental care until “next” year. Be proactive and prevent the spread of infection and disease by addressing oral care with your vet. You be glad that you learned what you can do at home to care for your pet’s teeth and gums as a lifelong practice.