5 terrifying consequences of ignoring your pet's dental health
Whether you have a cat or a dog, dental health is something that should be taken seriously from the get-go.
Whilst we know brushing your pet’s teeth can be a tricky task, it’s essential for their overall health and well-being.
If you don’t, it can lead to severe and in some cases, life-threatening issues later on in your pet's life.
But fear not, this horror story can have a happy ending if you keep up a good dental health routine!
If it’s not part of your pet care regime already, we guarantee it will be after reading this blog.
Read on to see five scary consequences of ignoring your pet’s oral health for too long.
Neglect at cleaning your pets' teeth can lead to severe periodontal disease aka gum disease - a condition that results in bleeding gums, bad breath, and ultimately tooth loss.
This is a serious health concern in cats and dogs and can occur in some breeds as early as four years old.
If your pet has periodontal disease chances are they have been living with chronic pain.
Other symptoms of severe gum disease to look out for include:
- Red inflamed gums
- Loss of appetite or dropping food from the mouth while eating
- Loose teeth
- Blood on toys or in the water bowl
- Making noises when eating or yawning
- Bumps or lumps in the mouth
When left untreated, the infection often spreads deeper and destroys the bone, which can lead to tooth extraction. This is not only uncomfortable for your pet but comes with a hefty vet bill
Tooth extraction, x-rays, dental exams, and other hospitalization costs can end up costing you thousands!
Imagine having toothache every day, and nothing is done about it? Your pet could be in large amounts of pain, but cats and dogs are exceptional at hiding it.
If they are gulping down their food too quickly, not chewing or refusing food altogether, this could be a sign of dental disease.
However, pets with dental disease may also drool or their mouth can bleed or appear swollen. But it’s important to note that not every pet displays these signs.
If you notice bad breath caused by plaque build-up, that’s enough reason to get a check-up at your local vet.
Usually, by the time serious signs start to show, it’s too late to save the tooth. And by this point, it’s highly likely that your pet will have been suffering in silence for quite some time.
Pets are very resilient and most continue with their daily routine as usual.
But whether your pet shows it or not, gum disease can be extremely painful, and living with it can severely decrease their quality of life and well-being.
Whats worse, your pet’s heart and liver are especially at risk of developing inflammation that’s caused by dental disease than if they don’t.
Inflammation of the Gums (Gingivitis)
Plaque left on the tooth surface and in the area surrounding the tooth, incites the animal's immune system and an inflammatory response ensues. This is gingivitis.
If left untreated, the bacterial infection can spread to tooth supporting structures and result in tooth loss as mentioned above!
Gingivitis can also lead to more serious disease affecting the liver, kidneys and heart if it goes unnoticed for a long time.
Fortunately, by knowing to look for and ways to prevent gum disease, you can care for your pets teeth before their health is compromised.
A tooth root abscess is an infection around a tooth root that develops when bacteria get underneath the gum.
Tooth root abscesses can go undetected but are very painful and often cause swelling on the side of the face (just under the eye).
If ignored, the bacteria can spread through the bloodstream and cause more severe health problems.
To think how painful an abscess can be, have you ever had a small acne spot on your face? How painful can these be? Multiply that pain by 1000 and you’d be about there.
Some human mums even say the pain is worse than childbirth (don’t shoot the messenger) so imagine what it’s like for pets!
Weakened Immune System
If your pet’s teeth are in bad condition and they develop dental disease, it can seriously impact their immune system.
This is because the bacteria caused by dental disease spreads in the blood stream.
The constant inflammation weakens the immune system as the white blood cells are constantly fighting the infection.
When this happens, your pet's health can deteriorate which makes it more difficult to fight off any other infections.
An infection or other disease can be deadly, risky and expensive to treat!
How to Prevent Gum Disease and Tooth Loss in Your Pet
The most effective way to prevent these conditions is to maintain a solid oral hygiene regimen, which should include regular cleaning of your pet’s teeth and gums.
Additionally, you should take your buddy for annual oral exams and ask your vet to give them a quick once over when you visit.
The bio adhesive system means no brushing is required, which is ideal for those stubborn pets who resist a cleaning!
You can also get dental foods and treats that are specially formulated to help promote healthy teeth and gums in cats and dogs.
We strongly recommend pet insurance that covers dental disease so that you are covered for any future problems. Shop around and check over the policies because not all pet insurances provide this cover!
There are also dental toys you can buy online which clean the teeth and gums without causing any damage.
Be sure to feed your pet a proper nutritional diet that contains food that needs chewing, not soft or sugary human food.
Feeding some dry biscuits is thought to be slightly better because they physically remove some of the plaque as your pet chews. However, this is no substitute for brushing teeth!
There are a number of great dental products on the market that can really make a big difference.
If you need help getting started with your oral health regime, book a free consult with our registered vet nurse Fiona.
She has a great toothbrushing technique and can suggest a number of safe and effective dental products to suit your cat or dog.