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Most Pets Have Periodontal Issues

By Richard Ticktin, CEO and Chief Chemist of SynergyLabs


More than 85% of dogs and cats older than four years have periodontal concerns. Common dental and oral issues in animals were poorly understood before the 1970s. Today, however, after much research, veterinary dentistry has recognized, treated, and learned how to control several oral diseases.

As a groomer, you might assume that periodontal issues should be a topic between a pet parent and a veterinarian. However, think about the added value you can contribute by recognizing the symptoms of periodontal disease on a pet and the additional services you can provide to promote dental and oral health, which could essentially increase your bottom line.

Understanding the Symptoms

It’s a fact that most pet parents never take a look inside a dog’s or cat’s mouth. It is another fact that, far too often, the lack of checking can contribute to a severe case of periodontal disease. You can become a promoter of good oral health by helping the pet parent recognize the symptoms. Look out for the following signs: bad breath, excessive drooling, inflamed gums, tumors in the gums, cysts under the tongue, and loose teeth. Though only veterinarians should provide a diagnosis, groomers should familiarize themselves with these oral diseases in order to provide a pet parent with a concerned warning that most will surely appreciate.

Periodontal disease is a painful infection between the tooth and the gum. This can result in tooth loss and infection that can spread to the rest of the body. Signs to look out for are loose teeth, bad breath, sneezing, and nasal discharge.

Gingivitis, considered by many veterinarians to be the first stage of periodontal disease, is an inflammation of the gums caused mainly by plaque, tartar, and bacteria below the gum line. Signs include gum bleeding and bad breath.

Halitosis is a medical term that really means bad breath. It can be the first sign of an oral issue caused by bacteria growing from food particles caught between the teeth or by gum infection.

Mouth Tumors appear as lumps in the gums. Salivary cysts are large fluid-filled blisters under the tongue or near the corners of the jaw. They require immediate veterinary care.

Gum disease occurs when the gum grows over the teeth. It must be treated immediately to avoid gum infection that can lead to teeth loss.

Canine distemper teeth can occur if a dog had distemper as a puppy and as an adult has teeth decay. A veterinarian should treat this as soon as possible.

Promote Oral Health and Increase Sales

Groomers can address dental and oral problems and provide pet parents with solutions to most diseases mentioned in this article. For example, according to the Journal of Veterinary Dentistry (December 1996), tooth-brushing on an occasional basis is not enough to maintain healthy gums in dogs. Adding a daily dental chew to occasional tooth-brushing can help to reduce plaque and tarter buildup. Special diets and products, however, are not substitutes for the recommended daily tooth-brushing.

Do you carry pet-approved toothbrushes, dental chews, and other oral related products in your store? How about newer dental care products that include antiseptic impregnated chewies or oral health water additives without alcohol? These additional products in your store can definitely boost your sales and provide a well-rounded inventory of pet products from which pet parents can choose.

The Bottom Line

Groomers can play a major role in helping pet parents respond to their pets’ dental and oral diseases. All they need is a push in the right direction while providing them with the necessary tools to do it. Take the opportunity to recognize oral issues in cats and dogs and promote oral health. ✂

For more information on dog or cat periodontal concerns, treatments, and/or questions or comments, email SynergyLabs’ Veterinarian Daniela Solomon at dsolomon@synergylabs.com.