Keeping your pet’s mouth healthy is one of the most important things you can do to improve his or her overall wellness. Dental disease is the most common disease in both dogs and cats, affecting 85% of dogs and 50% of cats over the age of 3. Despite what many pet owners believe, bad breath isn’t just a nuisance – it’s one of the first signs of dental disease. Bad breath is caused by bacteria, which reside within the plaque that accumulates on your pet’s teeth. As plaque builds up it turns into tartar, which can dig into the gums and deposit these bacteria, creating an infection known as periodontal (or dental) disease. As it progresses, dental disease can cause:
Not only can dental disease greatly diminish the quality of your pet’s life, it can have devastating consequences if left untreated, as oral bacteria can enter the bloodstream and create secondary infections in the heart, kidneys, or liver. Although these infections might not be conspicuous, they can cause severe damage and even premature organ failure.
Most pets will need their first dental cleaning somewhere between one and three years of age, with subsequent cleanings every one to two years. Some pets – particularly small or toy breeds – accumulate tartar more rapidly and may require more frequent cleanings. Of course, every pet is different, so it is important to have your pet's oral health evaluated on a yearly basis.