If your cat’s breath smells like something other than cat food, it’s time to book a dental appointment.
Dental care is just as important to pets as it is to people, and problems with the teeth and gums can indicate or even cause major health problems.
The main sign of dental problems is bad breath, according to Dr. Leah Montgomery, owner and veterinarian at the Shaughnessy Veterinary Hospitalin Port Coquitlam.
“If you can smell that breath from across the room, your pet probably needs dental,” Montgomery says. “We’ll often look in the pet’s mouth and see the teeth are just caked with tartar.”
If an animal’s teeth aren’t properly cared for, it can lead to major extractions, infections and even heart disease.
According to veterinary dentists, the best way to protect an animal’s teeth is to brush them every day, using toothpaste meant specifically for pets. However, this can be a difficult task, especially with small dogs, which often have tiny mouths with crowded teeth.
If it’s a struggle to get that toothbrush in your pet’s mouth for a good cleaning, there are other products that can help, such as dental chews, dental formula diets and water additives. Need advice? A veterinarian can recommend the best products for your pet. And if a deeper cleaning is needed, the veterinarian can take care of that, too.
“Sometimes, even with all the dental work you do, if the teeth are crowded, routine dental cleanings under anesthetic are the best thing for them,” Crichton says.
Cleaning under anesthetic allows for a more thorough cleaning, with scaling and polishing, while also being less traumatic for pets. Vets can also do dental X-rays and check for gum disease.
Keeping pets’ teeth clean and taking them to regular dental checkups helps maintain their health and overall well-being. It can also prevent future health conditions and diseases.
“At the end of the day,” says Montgomery, “it’s well worth the time and effort it takes.”