People love their pets and, naturally, want to do their best to care for them, but dental work can be a confusing topic. Should you splurge for a lot of oral-spiffing or only report to a vet for emergencies? The answer depends on your pet, their age and health and, of course, your general philosophy regarding expenditures for the animals you have.
Cats And Dogs
Your pet's annual physical includes a dental exam, possible cleaning, and even an X-ray or two if any abnormality is spotted. Most kitties and canines don't need extensive dentistry until perhaps later on in life, when and if the teeth begin to decay or gum disease develops. Some symptoms of degrading oral health are subtle, while others painfully obvious:
- Bad breath
- Tartar build-up
- Discoloration of teeth, from off-yellow to black
- Bleeding of the gums
- Fidgeting with the mouth, via a persistent paw
- Eventual weight loss
Any concern you have with your pet's teeth could be an emergency, so tell a vet right away about any issue, then follow-through with their advice, whether it's something you can do at home or bringing the animal in for a visit.
Rabbits, Rodents And Weasels
The teeth of rabbits, rats, hamsters, and other small furry pets are peculiar in form, function, and growth patterns. Most of these critters can manage their own dental work, usually by nibbling wood and other toys you provide for them; however, if you ever observe a pet like this with a broken or over-grown tooth, call your vet right away. They may need help trimming those all-important front teeth or keeping them both the same length.
The teeth of hamsters and other rodents grow, non-stop, throughout their lives, making it essential that you keep a close eye on them, especially if you notice blood in or around the mouth or a drop in appetite. A ferret's teeth grow from the tip downward, as opposed to from the root, making them vulnerable during rough play and other mishaps. A vet can file a chipped tooth down to size or, in an emergency scenario, actually extract an exposed nerve and fill the tooth with acrylic.
Horses, Goats And Other Ungalates
If you have a hoofed-animal, you've likely seen your share of funky teeth, especially if you have a horse with a sense of humor. Most of these animals expose their not-so-pearly-whites when chewing, letting their voices be heard or smiling, in their own unique ways. While pet goats and pigs don't require teeth floating, the process of filing them all down to an even finish, to prevent gum sores and other oral dangers, horses do. As with cats and dogs, the annual checkup of any pet should cover a dental inspection; following which, your vet will inform you of any work needed to be done.
Pigs, unfortunately, are capable of developing cavities and a pet dental care center is capable of filling them. Although horses aren't as cavity-prone, the pulp inside their teeth sometimes become infected, necessitating a quick cleaning under sedation. Their teeth also stop growing at a certain age, leaving them vulnerable to the same ravages of old-age that other mammals face.
It's up to you if you pamper your pet, but basic pet dental care is a mandatory aspect of responsible ownership. Discuss the details with your vet regarding your specific animals and their individual circumstances. No matter what, though, you should do what you can to keep the mouths of your critters working hard for them.