Monday Musing; February is Dental Health Month

The BCD of Dental disease

Dental disease is the number one condition afflicting cats and dogs today. It is a disease that I am very familiar with due to years of experience working in animal shelters. When stray cats and dogs enter our shelter, we often use the condition of their teeth and gums as an indicator of their age. Are their teeth dirty? White? Worn down? All too often we find that cats and dogs with diseased and plaque covered teeth also have dull coats, dermatitis, arthritis or external infections.

The correlation between periodontal disease, malnutrition and poor health is clear and definite.

Gum and dental disease results from a build-up of plaque and bacteria on the surface of the teeth around the gums. The accumulation of plaque and bacteria irritate the gums and leads to infection in the gum tissue and surrounding bone. Prolonged plaque accumulation will cause the formation of a hard tartar called calculus that contributes to the inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and when thick, can only be removed with dental instruments. Dental and gum disease can lead to foul breath, painful gums and teeth and systemic infections. In large numbers, the bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream (bacterema) putting stress on the kidneys, liver, heart and consequently, the overall immune system. In 1996 study from Kansas State University found periodontal disease to be associated with chronic internal organ disease of the heart, kidneys and liver. In addition to this, a pet suffering from gingivitis will be reluctant to play with toys, eat or interact. A painful mouth can reduce the quality of life. Untreated periodontal disease is a common, severe condition that will compromise your pet’s health and happiness if not prevented or treated.

Target Dental Disease by following the BCD!
Brushing a Dog's Teeth
B:  Brushing your dog’s teeth 

Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth is universally recognized as the number one method of preventing dental disease. The purpose of brushing is to prevent plaque from hardening into tartar. Plaque is soft and easily removed with a brushing action, however after 48 hours this plaque begins turning into dental calculus, which is not so easily brushed away. Regular brushing will inhibit the plaque from building up and reduce the number of harmful bacteria that cause gingivitis. Tooth brushes and pet tooth paste can be purchased at your local pet store, veterinary clinic or online. Look for tooth pastes that contain as many natural ingredients as possible in order to reduce the amount of synthetics being ingested by your dog.

How to Brush Your Dog’s Teeth


C: Chewing Dental Chews

Wolves, the ancestors of dogs, have been cleaning their teeth naturally for thousands of years. The same is true for large breed cats such as Cougars or Lions. The chewing action of eating a raw meaty bone, naturally brushes away plaque, thus preventing the development of tartar. Today’s domestic carnivores relies on their owners for food and dental care leaving the responsibility to provide chewing resources up to pet guardians. Providing your cat or dog with regular treats to chew is not only preventing dental disease, but the action of chewing also aids in preventing boredom, anxiety and stress.

D: Diet 

What you feed your pet is extremely important in preventing dental disease. A healthy diet will keep your pet’s immune strong which can reduce the amount of bacteria in his mouth. Whole, natural foods are full of real vitamins, minerals, proteins and fats that keep the body and the immune in peak condition.

Preventing gum and dental disease in your pet is vital to maintaining health and wellness. If tartar build-up persists and accumulates, serious problems can result that can only be treated with dental surgery. Surgery and anesthesia put stress on the vital organs and immune system, however, in the case of severe dental disease, surgery is your only option. When choosing how to keep your pet’s teeth pearly white, do your research, talk to your veterinarian, ask questions and remember the BCDs. Your friends and family will thank you for it, as your pet’s clean mouth with be fresh and odour free!

Stay informed on GTHS events, initiatives and programs. Learn how the GTHS team is serving the pets and people of the South Georgian Bay Area. Read heart-warming Happy Tails about GTHS Alumni. See a lot of really cute pictures of dogs and cats!