National Pet Day: Why you shouldn't ignore your pet's oral hygiene

Oral health is important not just for humans but also for pets. Before you step out to celebrate National Pet Day on April 11, add dental visit to your itinerary

Dr Ajay SatbigeUpdated: Saturday, April 09, 2022, 11:12 PM IST
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Photo: Pixabay

Your pet's oral hygiene does not stop at their teeth—it gives you a sneak peek into their overall health. Dental disorders are one of the most common medical conditions seen by vets. Studies have shown that over 80% of dogs above three years of age have an active dental disorder.

Improper oral hygiene can start small, such as plaque. However, it can lead to infections, damage, and tooth loss when left alone. Poor dental care also affects your dog’s appetite, leading to malnourishment, weakness, and more. Not only that but the infection from their teeth can also spread to other organs of the body like the heart and liver.

What are dental?

Dental diseases affect the teeth, gums, and other structures surrounding your pet's teeth. Most of the time, it starts with a simple build-up of plaque on the tooth. It contains different bacteria and food particles.

If this plaque is not addressed quickly, it stays on the teeth and eventually turns into tartar, which is harder to remove than plaque. If the tartar develops below the gum line, it can cause inflammation and damage your dog’s teeth and other supporting structures with infection. If a dental condition reaches the stage of infection, it can lead to other severe dental problems, such as tooth decay, pain, odour, and difficulty while eating.

Causes of dental disease

The most common cause of dental disease in dogs is poor hygiene. Letting tartar build up and not brushing can lead to various dental issues. Also, eating certain types of food with high quantities of sugar, such as ice cream and honey, can be detrimental to your pet’s teeth and health.

Some rare cases that can also influence a dog’s dental hygiene are genetics, having a misaligned bite, and the shape of the mouth. Small and toy dog breeds with shortened snouts are more susceptible to periodontal diseases.

What may happen in the long term if you don't take care of your pet's dental hygiene?

Neglecting your pet's dental health and hygiene, in the long run, can cause serious infections, periodontal diseases, and tooth loss. If the infection progresses, it can corrode the jaw bone and reach other parts of the body. Due to this, your pet will be at risk of developing a wide range of other chronic and potentially severe health conditions such as heart, kidney, and liver disorders.

A dog’s dental hygiene should be important to every pet parent. Consistent dental care has long-term benefits and can prevent you and your dog from going through expensive treatments and pain.

Go for herbal, brushless dental sprays that are easy to use and offer the right oral solution for your pets.

Signs of dental disease in dogs:

  • Yellow or brown teeth

  • Bad breath or halitosis

  • Easily bleeding gums and blood on toys or in the food bowl

  • Loose or weak teeth

  • Irritability

  • Excessive drooling

  • Chewing mostly on one side

  • Weight loss

  • Reduced appetite

  • Trouble keeping food in the mouth

Oral hygiene precautions to avoid dental diseases

  • Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the best ways to prevent canine oral diseases at home. Brushing is only effective if done regularly, at least three times a week

  • Pet parents must also use helpful dental hygiene products to care for their dog’s teeth and gums. Oral rinses, dental chews, dental wipes, sprays, etc., can lower plaque and improve the overall health of the teeth

  • An annual visit to the vet for timely detection of any underlying conditions is a must. Vets also conduct dental cleanings to tackle plaque build-up.

(The writer is senior veterinary officer at Wiggles.in)

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