How to keep your pet smiling: The importance of dental health


Have you given any thought to your pet’s dental health? Studies reveal that about two-thirds of pet owners do not provide the dental care recommended by their veterinarians. 

“Just like with people, dental disease can lead to all sorts of major health issues for animals,” said Dr. Mark Verdino, senior vice president and chief of veterinary services at North Shore Animal League America. “Gum inflammation and tooth loss can be very painful to your animals and costly to treat, but they also can lead to more serious conditions, including damage to the heart, lungs and kidneys.” Some of the most common symptoms include yellow and brown build-up of tartar along the gum line; inflamed gums; and persistent bad breath. 

Here is more information you need to know to help you prevent your beloved dog or cat from getting dental disease.

  • The best time to start a tooth-brushing regimen is when your pet’s adult teeth are in, at about 6 to 9 months old. 
  • Never use human toothpaste to clean pets’ teeth and gums. (Xylitol, an ingredient in toothpaste, is highly toxic to dogs and possibly cats).
  • Poor dental hygiene can lead to dental disease. Dental disease is caused by bacteria in the mouth and can result in oral pain, halitosis, tooth loss and periodontal disease. It can even affect the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract and joints.
  • Dental pain can affect a pet’s ability to eat resulting in weight loss and malnutrition.

Dental exams by a veterinarian are really key to maintaining the dental health of your pet. The Marvin M. Fried Dental Suite at North Shore Animal League America’s Pet Health Center offers affordable services including teeth cleaning and polishing, extractions and oral surgery. Call 516-883-2000 to discuss your pet’s dental needs.

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