Time For A Dental Cleaning

Dental Care For Your Pet?

5 Signs Your Pet Needs a Professional Dental Cleaning

It is a common myth that dogs and cats have cleaner mouths than humans. In fact, and I hate to admit it but I believed this when I was young and used to share my suckers and ice cream cones with my dog, GROSS!!! It is often stated that that they have “enzymes” that breakdown bacteria and keep their mouths clean. We may never know how this myth started, but it is clear that it’s absolutely false. It is not uncommon for people to comment that “they never used to have to clean their dogs/cats teeth” or that “wild dogs and cats don’t need to have their teeth cleaned”. Well in reality dogs and cats are living longer these days than they used to and they definitely outlive their wilder very distant relatives. This is, in part, related to better care of our pets and a clearer understanding of their health needs and requirements. The truth is that the mouth of dogs and cats is full of bacteria and the only way to prevent disease is to brush and clean the teeth and gums regularly.

Research has shown that dental disease and oral bacteria in dogs is a serious cause of illness for them, just as it is for people. Over 80% of cats and dogs 4 years of age and older are suffering from moderate or severe dental disease! This disease often leads to tooth loss and painful oral infections. Just as in people the bacteria from dental disease is also known to get into the bloodstream and cause life-threatening infections of the heart, liver and kidneys of dogs and cats. All of these problems are readily preventable with high-quality dental care. Just like humans, regular annual or semi-annual cleaning of your dog or cat’s teeth a qualified veterinary team is essential to maintaining optimum dental health. Routine pet dental care, such as regular cleanings and daily brushing prevent tartar and plaque buildup that can cause bad breath, gum disease and infections.

If your pet already has dental disease, it is important to treat it as soon as possible. The longer the problem goes untreated, the more serious it will become.

Here are 5 signs that your cat or dog may have dental disease:

  1. Bad breath is normally the first sign you pet is developing dental disease. Bad breath is never normal for your cat or dog. Just as with people bad breath is a sign that bacteria is trapped in the mouth. It’s best to bring your animal in for a professional cleaning right when you first notice an unusual odor.

  2. Red, swollen or bleeding gums This is a sign of inflammation (gingivitis or stomatitis) and is caused by an infection. Inflamed gums are often a source of great pain and discomfort to animals. Just as with people they are sensitive and more prone to bleed.

  3. Loose, broken or missing teeth If you have found your pet’s tooth or see that one of their teeth is missing, this is often a major indicator of a more serious problem. This can be an indication that one or more of the teeth are decaying or infected. Pets can develop abscesses when the infection gets bad which destroys the root of the tooth causing tooth loss and risk of a serious health issue. A missing, broken or loose tooth could also be the result of your pet having chewed on something that caused the tooth to crack and break. This can open a pocket for bacteria to invade into the mouth deeper, allowing a bacterial infection to spread to the rest of the mouth, and then to the rest of the body.

  4. Difficulty eating If your pet is struggling to chew, it may be due to the pain associated with and infection and inflammation in the mouth. This is usually a later sign that indicates a more progressive disease. Often times many animals with severe dental disease seem to eat fine but the secret is they have stopped chewing or they are chewing only on a certain side.

  5. Yellow or brown stained teeth Stained teeth are caused by tarter, which traps bacteria and causes infection. This is one of the first signs of a problem, and when addressed promptly with a good professional dental cleaning, it can usually be nipped in the bud. As with people once your pet’s teeth are stained deeply they may never be pearly white again without whitening treatments, which we do not do for our pets. But a cleaning can still remove the tarter and improve the health of the mouth even if the stains are more permanent.

If your dog or cat has any of the signs listed above Contact our office @ 509-535-4903 to schedule a Pre-Dental examination. Taking care of the problem sooner rather than later not only reduces your pet’s pain and suffering, but also prevents more serious and costly problems down the line.

If your pet is not eating, losing weight or lethargic chances are the teeth are not the only problem your pet has. It is very uncommon for pet's to stop eating, lose weight or become lethargic from dental disease alone. Please call our office to set up an exam as a dental consultation will not address everything your pet may need and a dental cleaning may not be safe or ideal for your pet until we ensure they are healthy.

If your pet is exhibiting signs they need a dental cleaning or more please call to get the process started by setting up your pet's Pre-Dental Examination.

Brushing your pet's teeth

When you are brushing, it is really important to focus on areas of gingival recession. These are "at-risk" places where the gum line has lowered; the surface of the root is exposed. The enamel in these areas is thinner and rougher. It is easy for plaque to stick in these areas, causing gingivitis and further deterioration of the health of the tooth.


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  • "We bring both our girls Ava and Nellie. Our latest visit was due to a limping issue after a visit to a dog park with Nellie (Greyhound and Healer mix). Staff was very kind and gentle with Nellie who is timid with strangers. In the end Nellie thanked both the vet and tech by licking their hands. Great team go see this vet office."
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  • "Dr. Sutton and the loving staff at Union Animal Hospital are amazing! They've taken wonderful care of my dog's since they were puppies. We've added 2 more dog's to our pack, a rescue and a re-home, after my Springer passed this spring. Dr. Sutton and here staff are so good with dog's they don't even mind going for their visits. Thanks Doc!"
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  • "Union Animal Hospital is the best place! The first time visit was great even during the Pandemic, the techs are wonderful and friendly. Best of all is that they are definitely affordable compared to the rest of the clinics in Spokane."
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  • "The most caring and compassionate animal hospital and veterinary clinic I've found in Spokane. Everyone is so nice and they are outstanding with my 11 year old Pomeranian. I've been searching for a while to find a new Veterinary clinic to take my Pomeranian. I'm so happy to have finally found a place with such caring people whom I can trust to care for my dog and give me all the information I need. They even gave me a print out estimate for everything. They are a bit more expensive than some other places I've researched but with the quality of care they give in my opinion it's well worth the few extra dollars. Thank you guys for treating us so well."
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  • "Our fist time having a pet emergency and Union Animal Hospital took us in right away and helped our Fur baby get better again. We won't go anywhere else, good prices and amazing staff, this is the spot if you care and love your animals take them here to be treated with the utmost respect and quality. LOTS IF LOVE TO YOU GUYS FOR BEING THERE FOR OUR FAMILY"
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