Happy Animal Health month, CHS Supporters!
This month on the blog, we are celebrating all things animal health, so if you have a question you would like to see answered, please share it with us on our Facebook page and you might see your topic featured on a future blog!’
Today on the blog, we are answering some of the most popular questions about dental care for pets!
Do all pets need dental care?
If your pet has teeth then dental care is an important contributor to overall health! Dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and even small critters like hamsters and gerbils should have their chompers inspected regularly as a part of an overall health check-up by their veterinarian.
The exact type and amount of dental care needed by your pet will vary depending on your pet’s age and individual differences in mouth health, but your pet’s veterinarian will be the best person to advise you on how frequently your pet will need some attention for their pearly whites.
What are some of the common dental procedures pets will need?
Great question! The answer to this really depends on the type of pet you have. For dogs and cats the most common dental need is tartar removal and tooth cleaning, much like what you would have done at your own dentist! Extractions are another common dental procedure in pets. Just like humans cats and dogs can suffer from cavities and gingivitis, but rather than root canals these problems are often addressed by extracting the affected teeth.
Rabbits and rodents, on the other hand, are a whole different matter! Rodents and lagomorphs (rabbits) have teeth that grow continuously for their entire lives. Most of the time these little critters do a great job of wearing down their teeth by chewing and eating rough foods, but sometimes they need a bit of help. An exotics veterinarian will check on your rabbit or rodent’s teeth and can help to trim or file the teeth down if they are too long.
Why is dental care so important for pets?
Just like humans, pets will wind up with painful mouths if their dental care is neglected. Dogs and cats can wind up with nasty infections that can spread into the surrounding tissue and even their jaw bones if they do not receive regular care. A dental infection can also impact the overall health of your pet as there have been cases where a severe dental infection has spread into the animal’s blood stream. Due to pain a dog or cat may also avoid eating certain foods
For smaller critters like rabbits and rodents dental care is extremely important because without it they can wind up with serious and even fatal health problems (including not being able to eat) if their teeth become overgrown.
How is the price of pet dental care determined?
Pet dental care can seem expensive, but it is important to remember that most major dental care provided by veterinarians involves anesthesia just like any other surgery. In addition to your vet’s expertise, the cost of dental care (like all vet care) must cover the other staff in the vet clinic, the specialized equipment and even the building costs for your vet’s practice. Unlike humans who will sit in a dentist’s chair for an hour or more, a dog or cat is not likely to open wide, especially if the procedure is going to be uncomfortable.
Like all veterinary care, dental care is an investment in the health of your pet. Failing to provide the dental care your pet needs can be considered medical neglect and could have legal consequences in severe cases. Investing in regular check-ups and preventative care as recommended by your veterinarian is a great way to manage your pet’s dental health and reduce the overall cost of care.
What kind of things can I do at home to keep my pet’s teeth healthy?
For little critters like rabbits and guinea pigs providing access to lots of chewable toys and an appropriate diet will go a long way in keeping their teeth clean and healthy.
For dogs and cats, we recommend talking to your veterinarian for specific suggestions. Your vet may recommend a number of different things including: providing chew toys and chew treats, feeding tartar control food and brushing your pet’s teeth in between vet visits. Your vet is the best person to ask about your pet’s dental health as they will be most familiar with your pet’s specific needs.
Can I use human toothpaste for my pets?
No! Human toothpaste should NOT be used for pets as human toothpaste is not intended to be swallowed. If your vet has recommended brushing your pet’s teeth, you should invest in a good quality pet toothpaste. Pet toothpaste is created with pet safe ingredients that will not harm your pet if eaten, often contains enzymes to help break down plaque and tartar and also comes in flavours that are more palatable to cats and dogs.
For rabbits and little critters, you should always consult your veterinarian before doing any dental care at home. Trimming and filing teeth requires specialized knowledge. Trying to provide this type of care at home can result in injury to your pet.
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