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The Health Risks of Neglecting Your Pet’s Dental Hygiene

Updated: Sep 12, 2019

360 Pet Cab blog article "The Health Risks of Neglecting Your Pet's Dental Hygiene"

To address the importance of dental health for pets, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) sponsors National Pet Dental Health Month every February.

At 360 Pet Cab, while our purpose is to offer urgent care and pet transport, healthier pets is what we strive for everyday. We imagine a world where pets thrive. Thus, with National Pet Dental Health Month ahead, we’d like to remind all fur parents that dental hygiene should be a daily routine. That’s because in animals—just like in humans—poor oral health can have a negative impact on overall health.

Health risks associated with poor dental health

Good oral hygiene can prevent gum diseases like gingivitis and periodontal disease, which can in turn play an important role in decreasing the risk for other more serious health concerns.

According to the AVMA, periodontal disease—a disease which will worsen if preventive measures aren’t taken—is the most common dental condition in dogs and cats. Early detection and treatment are critical because more serious health problems are associated with periodontal disease, including kidney, liver, and heart diseases.

According to veterinarians, dental disease is associated with the following health risks:

Inflammation— The immune system’s reaction is to fight off infections, including those that arise from bacteria in the mouth. But this immune response can cause inflammation that over time eats away at the gums and bone structure that hold teeth in place. Inflammation can also cause problems throughout the rest of the body.

Heart disease— Bacteria from the mouth can travel to the heart valves, which can damage cardiac tissue and lead to heart disease and even heart failure.

Diabetes complications— In humans, poor dental health has been shown to worsen the control of diabetes. The same association has been seen in pets.

Broken jaw— Severe dental disease can lead to bone infections which can lead to a broken jaw that might not heal. This is not only extremely painful but also life threatening.

Blood infections— Bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream and cause asepsis. Even with aggressive treatment, septic shock can be fatal in dogs and cats.

Liver infections— When bacteria in the mouth is swallowed, it can work its way to the liver and cause a liver infection which can be fatal. While treatment is available, it can be long and expensive.

But how do you know if your pet is at risk of developing any of these life-threatening health risks? Let’s take a look at some common signs of dental disease that you can look out for:

  • Tartar buildup

  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums

  • Bad breath

  • Changes in eating or chewing habits, such as reduced appetite, refusal to eat, chewing only on one side of the mouth, or not chewing food thoroughly

  • Pawing at or rubbing the face

  • Excessive drooling

  • Broken or loose teeth

How to prevent dental disease in pets

After hearing these about life-threatening diseases, we know what you're probably thinking. How do you prevent dental disease?  Here are some tips to ensure good oral health:

Diet— It’s recommended to supplement your pets diet with dog dental bones or treats designed to work on your dog’s teeth. You can also try raw apples, carrots, and celery. They can help to gently scrape away plaque because they are crunchy and fibrous.

Regular cleaning/brushing— Regular brushing removes food left behind that can cause tartar and plaque buildup, and eventually gingivitis and periodontal disease. Veterinarians recommend brushing your pet’s teeth daily to help prevent dental diseases. You can use a dog toothbrush or rubber finger cap dog toothbrush. Try a toothpaste made especially for dogs, not human toothpaste because it may contain xylitol which is toxic for pets. There are actually a few great options to choose from. Your Dog Advisor, shares a great list of effective and safe options to try.

Regular dental checkups/cleaning— The AVMA recommends that your pet's teeth and gums are checked at least once a year by their veterinarian. For most dogs, it is recommended that they get a dental cleaning every six months. This preventive measure ensures that your veterinarian can spot and treat any problems before they get worse.

We understand life can get busy, and adding more appointments to your schedule can be a challenge. If you simply don't have the time to take your pet to regular vet appointments, 360 Pet Cab can help relieve the hassle of transporting your pet to the vet. 360 Pet Cab is a reliable pet transport service which offers local emergency and non-emergency pet transport in the Bay Area. Book your pet transport appointment online or contact us at 833-PET-2VET.

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