You may be curious as to why National Pet Dental Month has anything to do with Animal Welfare. Well, When a pets teeth go bad or when a problem arises and the owner chooses to do nothing then it becomes an animal welfare issue.Â Most dental problems with animals can be prevented with routine veterinary visits and quality food. With that said I am aware that some people do not have the financial means to have their pets checked routinely and I’m also aware that some pets are the victims of over breeding, poor breedingÂ and inbreeding which can lead to many poor health conditions. Small breed dogsÂ may also be predisposed to dental problems. The next few paragraphs will explain how untreated dental problems can affect the welfare of your pets.
I thought I would list a few of the most common pets and their dental problems, but their are other pets not listed that can have dental problems too.
Horses should have their teeth floated once per year and in some cases twice a year. “Floating” a horses teeth involves filing the sharp points of the teeth a result of chewing. Horses teeth will grow continually until they are about 15 years old, their side to side chewing causes the teeth to wear down in a certain pattern. If routine dental care is not done hooks, sharp points and missing teeth can cause sores in the mouth andÂ pain while eating. Major weight loss in young horses as well as in geriatric horses and performance problems could be the result of mouth pain. Some medical problems can be solved by looking in your horses mouth.Â Â The clinical signs your horse has a dental problem could include; dropping feed, eating slowly, weight loss, drooling, a colic episodeÂ , being head shy, ownerÂ having difficulty turning the horses head when riding and performance problems.
Rabbits and Guinea pigs are those types of pets that sometimes get over looked when it comes to routine dental exams, but undetected dental problems in both these pets can lead to serious problems. Both guinea pigs and rabbits are hypsodonts; meaning their teeth grow continuously throughout life. When the rabbit and guinea pig chew their teeth get worn down, providing the rightÂ kinds of Â roughageÂ aidsÂ in the wearing of their teeth. A major cause of improper dental wear in both the guinea pig and rabbit is inadequate roughage. Other causes of dental problems in these animals is cage chewing, falling or other injury causing fractures which can cause uneven wear of the teeth. The uneven wearing of the teeth can cause the teeth to overgrow making it difficult for the rabbit and the guinea pig to eat. Rabbits and guinea pigs can develop spurs because of the uneven wear, these sharp points can abrade the tongue and cheek causing irritation and pain also stopping it from eating.Â Overgrown teeth in the guinea pig can cause excessive pressure on the tooth roots when the guinea pig chews, resulting in pain, damaged roots, and possible tooth root abscess. Sometimes the overgrown teeth can start to grow abnormally damaging tissues of the mouth and trapping the tongue in both of these pets. Clinical signs that your rabbit or guinea pig is having dental problems are drooling, selective eating or not eating at all, weight loss, dropping food, grinding teeth, and runny eyes.
70% of cats and 80% of dogs will show signs of oral disease by the age of three years old, when these dental problems are left untreated they can develop into gingivitis then periodontal disease, which has been linked to heart, liver, and kidney problems. There are other dental problems associated with these pets; fractured teeth, which lead to cavities that can be painful (dogs commonly fracture there teeth by chewing on rocks, cage doors, chain link fences and hard toys), tooth resorption which usually goes undetectedÂ by owners, is the leading cause of tooth loss in cats. Retained deciduous teeth(meaning a baby tooth did not fall out)Â are another problem in puppies and kittens which can lead to malpositioning of the permanent teeth,Â these retained teeth need to be extracted. The clinical signs that your dog or cat may be suffering from dental disease areÂ foul breath, yellow teeth, tartar build up, swollen, receding,Â or bleeding gums, reluctancy to eat or trouble eating.
Prevention of dental problems includes annual visits toÂ a veterinarian, proper food, chew toys, teeth brushing for dogs and cats, and dental treats. You can also prevent dental problems by becoming aware and understanding the consequences of poor pet dental health. Another important key to prevention is making sure you know the cost of dental care and what types of dental care your pet will need before you adopt or buy it. Finally, if you are going to buy a pet from a breeder get as much information as you can on that breederÂ before you buy. Some breeders are not repitable and they may be overbreeding or inbreeding their animals, thisÂ can affect the quality of the pet and it’s teeth too, possibly costing you a lot of money in dental care.
The overall health and well being of your pets can be improved with routine dental care. So go take your pet to the vet, or at least take a look in your pets mouth, you might be amazed or concerned about whats going on in there.