Petplan's most common claim for the month of February 2016 was for Periodontal Disease. Most people probably aren't aware that studies have shown that periodontal is present in 70-80 percent of dogs and cats by 3 years of age unless steps are taken to prevent it.
What is Periodontal Disease?
The periodontium is comprised of tissues that support the tooth - the gingiva (gums), cementum (connective tissue that covers tooth root), alveolar bone (socket), and periodontal ligament (fibers that attach the tooth to the alveolar bone).
So, how does periodontal disease develop and what are the potential harmful effects it can have on your dog or cat's health? The video below is about 13 minutes long, but I assure you it is worth your time to watch it and your eyes will be opened to a problem that many pet owners have ignored to the detriment of their pet's health. In both people and pets, studies have shown that periodontal disease and poor oral health can lead to other health problems and a shortened lifespan.
So, how do you treat periodontal disease, or even better, how can it be prevented? Watch this short video:
As necessary as professional cleaning under anesthesia may be in some cases, it's just not enough by itself to prevent periodontal disease. Some form of home care is also needed. Ask your veterinarian what he or she recommends for your pet.
Generally, the very best preventative measure is to brush your pet's teeth. Most non-aggressive dogs and cats can be trained to let you brush their teeth and some even look forward to it when provided with their favorite treat afterwards.
Watch the short video below showing you how to brush your dog's teeth:
Watch this video on how to brush your cat's teeth:
For other products that can help prevent periodontal disease, visit the VOHC website.
Is there tartar present on your pet's teeth? Are the gums inflamed? Does your pet have bad breath? If so, these are all signs that you should make an appointment for a dental checkup with your veterinarian. Perhaps your veterinarian has already pointed this out and told you that your pet needs a dental cleaning and a more in-depth exam under anesthesia and you've been putting it off.
As seen in the first video, allowing earlier stages of periodontal disease to progress has several potentially serious complications. And treating periodontal disease in the earlier stages costs much less than the treatments needed for Stage 3 and 4 of the disease. Veterinarians frequently hear their clients say after a dental procedure, "I can't believe how much better Fluffy feels! I had no idea his teeth were bothering him that much."
Pet insurance coverage for periodontal disease is all over the map. Some companies don't cover treatment of periodontal disease at all because they consider it preventable. Some cover it if you have annual dental exams and follow your veterinarian's recommendation for home care and need for professional dental cleaning. Bottom line, each company is different on coverage for this condition. Therefore, read a sample policy before purchasing pet insurance (most specifically mention dental diseases), but I'd also advise calling the company to ask about this coverage.
To summarize, periodontal disease is the most common disease seen in dogs and cats and it is much better prevented than treated.