Overlooked Dental Care Crucial For Pet’s Overall Health

By  //  October 21, 2012

Bad Teeth May Lead To Other Complications

BREVARD COUNTY • TITUSVILLE, FLORIDA – Caring and nurturing your pet may seem like all that is necessary on a day-to-day basis with the exception of routine checkups at the veterinarian, but pet owners might be ignoring one of the leading causes for pet disease.

The teeth of dogs and cats are just are susceptible to dental problems as humans. If untreated, some pets’ dental problems may lead to more serious health issues. (Shutterstock image)

Julie Nelson, a certified veterinary technician at Young’s Animal Hospital in Titusville, said that dental hygiene is often overlooked, but important for a pet’s overall health.

“The bad teeth can lead to kidney issues and heart issues because bacteria goes through their entire system,” Nelson said.

Neglecting pet dental hygiene can lead to consequences such as tooth loss, especially in the smaller breeds because they are less likely to chew their food, Nelson said.

Chewing food is very important because cats and dogs are not getting the direct benefits from the food itself, which can lead to another issue in their mouths called pockets.

Pockets form when bone loss occurs within the mouth because of bacteria eating it away.

Veterinarians recommend that owners start brushing their pet’s teeth when animals are young to avoid dental problems later. (Shutterstock image)

More ailments

Other diseases that are common among dogs and cats are resorptive lesions and gingivitis.

Resorptive lesions are an animal’s version of cavities, where a certain cell is supposed to build the tooth up, but instead tears it down, causing holes in the tooth and in the root.

“On average 75 percent of the patients we see here on a day-to-day basis have some kind of dental hygiene problem and we do not actually know it until the pet comes in because cats and dogs do not complain about pain,” Nelson said. “Otherwise, they usually just get around it and it is not until they have stopped eating or their face begins to swell that we notice there is a problem.”

She said the worst-case scenario would be an older dog around 12-years-old who has never used any dental product and needs a full mouth extraction, although it is important to know that teeth are not normally extracted unless the pulp is exposed just like in humans because it can be extremely painful.

Jenene Gramolini, the proud owner of a 13-year-old toy poodle who has an advanced dental disease said she was apprehensive to have her dog’s teeth cleaned because of her advanced age and the risks associated with anesthesia.

Eventually Gramolini was convinced by the veterinarian to go through with the procedure.

“The benefits of cleaning her teeth will improve her overall health and prevent the cascade of issues that can occur when a dental infection spreads though the system,” she said.

A variety of methods are available for pets who are resistant to tooth brushing, such as rinses and water additives. (Shutterstock image)


To prevent tooth loss and other serious health problems in pets stemming from dental problems, veterinarians recommend brushing from a pet’s teeth from a young age as it accustoms them to a toothbrush being inside of their mouth on a regular basis.

Nelson also advises pet owners who own an animal that is difficult to handle to use some of the other products that are beneficial for pet dental hygiene, including mouth rinse, water additives, chews, and feeding them a specific diet.

Some products available include chlorhexidine, an antiseptic designed to cleanse the mouth, ridding it of damaging bacteria. They can be found at your local veterinarian or pet store, although the ones found in the pet store do contain alcohol.

If a pet already has an advanced case of dental disease, the next step would be to start the animal on an antibiotic to slow down the process on the already damaged teeth and prevent it from occurring to any of the remaining teeth.

For more information about pet dental hygiene, call Young’s Animals Hospital at 321-267-3841 or visit http://www.youngsanimalhospital.com.

1 Comment

  1. This was very helpful. Never really viewed it this way and I have a 8 month old cat… Im gonna start on brushing his teeth on a regular basis.

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