We know how important dental health is for humans, but this issue is equally vital for pet health as well. If you're planning to bring a new cat or dog into your family, make sure you're prepared to look after every aspect of their health – including their teeth and gums.
What are the facts about pet dental health?
According to the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA), four out of every five dogs and cats older than three years have some sort of dental disease. This typically becomes worse with age, which can place your furry friend into significant pain and discomfort if left untreated.
As well as the immediate physical symptoms, dental diseases can increase your pet's risk of other illnesses affecting the heart, liver and kidney.
Many of the same problems that affect human oral health can also be present in your dog or cat. For example, some of the common conditions include gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and the buildup of plaque onto the teeth.
The issue can be even more complicated as your pet will not be able to tell you if there is a problem – unlike a human member of the family. In fact, most dogs and cats will keep eating and behaving as normal throughout the early stages of dental disease, which means it's up to you to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms.
These can range from bad breath to stained teeth or reddened and inflamed gums. You may also notice your pet starts dropping morsels of food while they are eating.
How can you look after your pet's dental health?
Just as humans need regular dental check-ups, so too do your furry friends. Your veterinarian should check your pet's teeth as part of their annual health exam. This will ensure that any problems can be picked up and resolved before they have the chance to become more severe.
At home, you can look after your pet's oral health by brushing their teeth regularly. This tends to be more effective for removing potentially harmful residues from the enamel, and if you start from a young age your dog or cat may even learn to enjoy the experience.
If your pet does require more serious treatment, your animal health insurance policy may provide some cover for specific dental issues. The most basic policies cover accidental injuries only, but comprehensive plans may include cover for teeth cleaning and other procedures.
A knowledgeable broker can help you compare health insurance plans for your pet, so you have a wider variety of options to choose from.