Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats

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With more than 2/3 of cats and 3/4 of dogs having dental disease. It is the biggest health care problem in our pets— and the incidence is increasing.

According to the Banfield Pet Hospital State of Pet Health 2016 Report, the incidence of dental disease has increased more than 20% in the last 10 years.  Dental disease includes any health condition affecting the mouth, such as inflammation, tarter, gingivitis, periodontal disease and tooth abscess. Pets with dental disease can develop bad breath and experience pain when eating. Dental disease can lead to high levels of bacteria in the mouth, which can enter the blood stream, causing blood infection and organ damage. It can increase the risk of diabetes complications and the risk of problems during pregnancy and even increase the risk of developing cancer.

Older dogs and small and short-nosed breeds are at higher risk. Highly processed manufactured pet food, especially those with large amounts of sugar and carbohydrates (includes cereals or grains) also increase the risk of dental disease. Many commercial pet foods contain 40% of these dental disease-causing products.

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Various recommendations have been made for ways to prevent dental disease.  By using these strategies, pet owners can avoid costly and risky dental surgeries, including dental cleaning requiring anesthesia.

  • Add fish oil to the diet to reduce gum inflammation.
  • Feed a species-appropriate diet. Some veterinarians report significant improvement in dental health when switching from kibble to a raw diet.
  • Offer safe chew toys made of rubber (not plastic)
  • Brush teeth or rub teeth and gums with a gauze-wrapped finger regularly using dental products developed for pets.
  • Offer raw bones (beef marrow or knuckle bones, chicken wings or backs, gizzards), strips of dehydrated muscle meat or chews, or fully digestible dental chews. Limit chewing time to less than 15 minutes daily to reduce the risk of tooth damage in power chewers.
  • Perform routine inspection of the teeth and mouth to check for foul breath, inflammation, unusual lumps or bumps, or damaged teeth. Address any problems promptly.

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