August is Pet Dental Health Month—an initiative of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA)—and pet owners are being encouraged to speak to their vet about what they can do to ensure their pet maintains good oral health.
Dental disease is common in Australian pets. If left untreated, it can be painful and lead to serious health concerns.
AVA spokesperson Dr Tara Cashman said this year’s theme of Health Set, Happy Pet highlights the importance of good oral health in pets and its impact on the overall health of an animal. It also raises awareness of the need for yearly thorough dental exams performed by a veterinarian to identify any emerging dental issues.
“Dental disease occurs above and below the gum line. It’s extremely difficult to get a full picture of what’s going on in a pet’s mouth when it is conscious because disease below the gum line can’t be seen,” Dr Cashman said.
“To properly examine, diagnose and treat dental disease in pets, it must be done by a veterinarian while the animal is anaesthetised. This ensures the experience is a positive one for the pet because it is unaware of pain during the procedure and does not need to be physically restrained.
“A general anaesthetic also ensures the vet can complete a thorough inspection of every single tooth above and below the gum line and address any problems on the spot. This is not possible to do effectively on a fully conscious patient.”
In its early stages, gum disease or gingivitis is reversible. However, if left undetected it may progress to periodontitis which can impact heavily on a pet’s quality of life. The longer it’s left untreated, the more painful it is for the pet, and the greater the risk of serious health consequences.
“It’s important that we address any oral health issues in pets as quickly as possible, and yearly thorough dental examinations by veterinarians are important in identifying and treating problems early,” Dr Cashman said, adding that it’s not uncommon for pets with oral health issues to show no obvious clinical signs of dental disease; they often even continue to eat normally despite painful and advanced disease.
Based on a media release sourced from the AVA.