When Freckles arrived at our shelter, he had severe dental disease and needed many teeth extracted. And while this seems like a relatively minor ailment, the fact of the matter is that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Severe dental disease means that Freckles was in extreme pain. And, according to HSPPR Chief Veterinarian Dr. Susan Lynch, “Poor dental health can lead to oral pain, decreased appetite, and weight loss.” She continued: “An animal’s teeth can act as a window into their overall health. Severe dental disease is a sign that there may be other issues with the animal’s systemic health and even organ dysfunction. Also, dental disease will predispose your pet to systemic illness from bacteria in the mouth circulating in the blood stream that can set up shop anywhere in the body, like the heart or kidneys.”
That means Freckles will need frequent cleanings and regular checkups to ensure his overall health is not negatively impacted by his dental disease. And, unfortunately, Freckles isn’t an anomaly. In 2020, HSPPR performed 217 dental procedures on cats and dogs to relieve their oral suffering and ensure their prolonged health so they could be adopted.
If dental disease is such a threat to our pets, it raises the question: What can be done to prevent it?
“Daily tooth brushing for cats and dogs alike is imperative to keeping dental disease at bay,” says Dr. Lynch. “Regular dental cleanings may be needed to help keep your pet’s teeth healthy. Some dog breeds are more prone to dental disease than others and may require more frequent dental cleanings such as chihuahuas, Yorkies, and basset hounds. Larger breed dogs don’t often suffer from severe disease, and their teeth may be managed well with brushing and treats that help mechanically clean the teeth, like Greenies. Regardless of breed, always make sure your pet has plenty of fresh water to rinse their mouth after eating.”
And as for Freckles? Once his teeth were no longer troubling him, all he needed was a home. He found a loving family a few days after his dental surgery and is now living his best life!
“By keeping your pet’s teeth healthy, you can keep them from enduring many diseases that are caused by poor oral health,” added Dr. Lynch. Through a little work on your end, you can prevent costly dental procedures and painful teeth in your pet, and that’s why Pet Dental Health Month is so important – to raise awareness of what we can be doing to improve our pets’ dental health, and therefore, their quality of life.”