Importance of pet dental care.

Dental Care is one of the most fundamental elements of maintaining your pet’s health.  Because of misinformation or a lack of understanding about the facts, many owners are still unaware of the importance of pet dental care, but the team at Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital wants to change that.

Dental disease is the most common, most preventable, and most treatable problem for dogs and cats.  The best approach to optimal oral health is a combination of at-home dental care for dogs and cats combined with professional cleanings. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of misinformation about the best dental care. Here are some of the most common fallacies and facts about pet dental care:


FALLACY #1: “We’ve had dogs and cats all our lives; they never had dental problems.”

FACT:  The reality is that dental disease is the most common disease of dogs and cats, so if you have never spayed special attention to a pet’s oral health, they most likely had some form of periodontal disease.  

Pet dental care.

In fact, 70% of cats and 85% of dogs will have periodontal disease by age three, which is why it is imperative to schedule regular dental exams and cleanings for your furry friends.

FALLACY #2:  “My dog is too old for anesthesia. Treating PERIODONTAL DISEASE is not worth the risk, and it’s not worth the money. ” 

FACT:   Older dogs are often the ones who need (and deserve) the most dental care. Older pets need to be carefully screened for problems that may require special precautions to be taken, but that should not prevent dental care.

Dogs and cats with chronic diseases like heart disease, chronic kidney failure, and diabetes, benefit greatly from dental care. Complications of periodontal disease can further exacerbate these issues. Gingivitis, loose, painful teeth, tooth abscesses, eye infections, nasal infections, bone infections, jaw fractures, and systemic bacterial infections are all complications of untreated dental disease.

FALLACY #3:  “The risk of anesthesia is too great. I’ve heard that pets can have their teeth cleaned without anesthesia.”

FACT: In actuality, dental care under anesthesia is both safe and effective. In order for your veterinarian to properly diagnose and treat dental disease, they must perform a full visual examination of the oral cavity, carefully probe each tooth, and obtain dental X-rays.  The most important part of the dental treatment is cleaning under the gum line (subgingival scaling). This cannot be performed without anesthesia.

FACT:  The risk of modern anesthesia is low.  At Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital, we take every safety precaution and give all anesthetized pets intravenous catheters, IV fluids, and endotracheal intubation.

Patients are monitored constantly for body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, pulse oximetry, and heart irregularities.  Many routine dental care procedures take less than 45 minutes, and pets can come home that same afternoon.  

FALLACY #4:  “My dog (or cat) can’t be in pain.  He’s acting fine, and he is eating.”

FACT:  Dogs and cats can have pain due to dental disease and many pet owners will not know it. Since they can’t tell us they have pain, and they don’t comprehend that anything can be done about it, many pets are used to just living with it.

After treating dental infections and other painful oral problems in pets, our clients often tell us that their pet is more playful and happier. They didn’t realize the pet was in pain until it was treated, which is why ist is so important to keep up with routine dental examinations.

Cat dental care.

 FALLACY #5:  “My pet doesn’t need DENTAL CARE because I brush his teeth, he gets dental treats, and he eats hard food.”

FACT:  While at-home dental care for dogs and cats is an important facet of oral health, it is still important to get professional cleanings and exams. Since your veterinarian can take a deeper look at what is happening with the teeth and gums, they will be able to spot any issues with periodontal disease early enough to treat it.

If your dog or cat is in need of a dental cleaning, call  (732) 531-1212 to schedule an appointment with Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital.