Tail wagging and a few licks to the face can be a standard greeting in the canine world, but that pungent dog breath can definitely cause a recoil when it hit us in the face. Many people come to expect that bad breath comes with owning a dog or even a cat. However, contrary to popular belief bad breath in your canine or feline housemate isn’t normal and it can be a sign of infection in your canine or feline sidekick.
Oral diseases are very common and is something that veterinarians can and should be addressed. Over time tartar and plaque can build up on the teeth of dogs and cats just like us and can result in very foul smelling breath and that is just scratching the surface! Our beloved pets can suffer from gingivitis, resorptive lesions where the tooth structure is being lost, and periodontal disease which can actually devastate the jawbone of an animal.
These diseases can be very painful for our pets, even if they put on a brave face. It can be painful to eat and the bacteria from some of these diseases can also cause other systemic illnesses in the kidney, liver, heart, or other organ systems. The bacteria responsible for gingivitis and periodontal disease can also lead to severe infections that may need to be treated with antibiotics or leave your pet prone to other more severe infections.
This then leads to the question, what can I do? There are two answers, preventative care or treatment. Preventative care is going to be the most effective in the long term as well as being a lot cheaper. Regular brushing of your pet’s teeth can eliminate the buildup of plaque and tartar that lead to many of the dental diseases. This does take patience and training, but it is well worth it! Another option for preventative care is to use chews that have products like Delmopinol which can help reduce the adherence of plaque by inhibiting the matrix it forms while on the teeth. These chews don’t break up plaque and as a result not as effective as brushing, but it can definitely help with your furry friend’s oral health.
The other option is treatment. This is a procedure where veterinarians place the pet under anesthesia and completely clean the teeth, remove teeth, and attempt to clean out any infection. This measure is of course taken after the damage is already done and it can also be rather damaging to the wallet. In the United States a procedure like this can run anywhere from 400 dollars to 2000 dollars depending on the severity of the oral problems.
In the end our pets will never have the minty fresh breath that we do, but we can definitely take some steps to ensure that their breath doesn’t knock us off our feet. But it is not only for our benefit to take care of our pets’ chompers, but it is also in their best interest to ensure they are as happy and healthy as can be and live long lives by our sides!
Belows, Jan. “All Pets Dental.” Feline Oral Resorptive Lesion - DentalVet.Com, www.dentalvet.com/Encyclopedia/M07097.htm. Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.
“Dog's Teeth And Dental Care.” Http://Www.petloverstuff.com/Assets/Images/Blog/Dental-Dogs.jpg, Pet Lovers Stuff, www.petloverstuff.com/pet-lovers-tipss/dogs-teeth-cleaning-and-dental-care. Accessed 20 Sept. 2017.
Multimedia, Doctor. “Periodontal Disease in Cats and Dogs.” Canberra Veterinary Hospital, Canberra Veterinary Hospital, canberravet.com.au/search-pet-info/periodontal-disease-in-cats-and-dogs/.