A Definitive Guide to Dental Care for Senior Cats & Dogs

A Definitive Guide to Dental Care for Senior Cats & Dogs

Since senior dogs and cats seldom have one condition or concern, looking after these pets can be difficult. Even with routine geriatric wellness examinations and blood tests, internal organs could lose function as they age. The quality of life of these patients can be considerably affected by issues typical in elderly dogs and cats, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, renal disease, arthritis, and cognitive impairment.

It is easy to pay attention to the condition of the oral cavity in light of these essential issues. Maintaining older pets’ general health might depend on their dental health.

Why Is Regular Dental Care Important?

Compared to pets who receive no regular dental treatment, the average lifespan of these animals is two years longer. Heart disease and other conditions are linked to poor dental health in canines and felines. The inflammatory processes linked to oral disease and infection impact the oral cavity and other systemic organs.

This is why it’s so essential to get regular dental cleanings. Oral bacteria that get into the bloodstream and travel to other organs, such as the kidneys, liver, and heart, might all hurt them. Older animals require routine professional cleanings to promote a better, happier life for everyone. Visit websites like charlotte.providencevets.com to learn more about dental care.

Is Anesthesia Necessary?

The requirement for general anesthesia is a significant barrier to providing geriatric cats and dogs with the best possible dental care. Concerns about anesthetic risks in light of a patient’s comorbidities may discourage the owner or the veterinary team from seeking appropriate treatment. However, “anesthesia-free dentistry” reduces the ability to make an accurate diagnosis, does not allow for appropriate treatment, and raises anxiety and risks to the patient.

Anesthesia-free cleanings do not allow equipment to reach below the gum lines, defeating the more thorough dental procedure. Veterinary anesthesia has been safer over the years, with safer drugs, sophisticated monitoring devices, close monitoring under anesthesia by a qualified vet technician, and safeguards like pre-anesthetic bloodwork and intravenous (IV) fluids. All these safety measures provide for a more secure experience for the pet.

Senior Pet Dental Issues

  • Compromised mandible. Pathologic fractures might occur before the treatment or while the tooth is being removed if there has been bone loss at the level of the large first molar.
  • Maxillary canine fistula. An oronasal fistula, which necessitates careful surgical treatment, can be created by deep periodontal pockets on the palatal face of the teeth, which can ruin the thin layer of bone going to the nasal cavity.
  • Oral Tumors. Cancer is more likely to develop in those that live longer, and oral cavity cancer is no exception. Oral tumors are more widespread in older animals, with a few fibrosarcomas being more common in younger canines.
  • Periodontic-endodontic lesion. Bacteria can enter via the apex of a root with extensive periodontal bone loss, causing the pulp to be further damaged. The first molar in the mandible with periodontal bone loss down the distal root is a frequent location for this disease.
  • Rostral mandible compromise. Bone loss can lead to the loss of incisors, canines, and ultimately symphyseal instability.
  • Tooth resorption. Any loss of dental hard tissue is referred to broadly by this phrase (enamel, cementum, or dentin). Cats of any age, specifically senior cats, often experience it. Always consider reputable facilities like Providence Animal Hospital for any health concerns of your senior pets.

How Can You Help Senior Pets Avoid Dental Issues?

  • Instruct your pet to allow a mouth inspection and begin tooth brushing when it is still young. With an older pet with existing concerns, this is considerably more challenging. It can be exceedingly difficult for cats, which may be innately wary of novel activities with a hint of discomfort.
  • Routine examinations. If it is okay, ensure your vet examines your pet’s mouth. If your pet protests vehemently during an oral examination, they could be attempting to warn you that it hurts. To complete the assessment, they could require sedation. Check out a geriatric veterinarian in Charlotte for an extensive assessment of your senior pet.
  • Encourage chewing. While some dogs will never be passionate chewers (and are more prone to develop dental issues), educating them to chew using positive reinforcement and appealing substrates is occasionally viable.
  • Brush! Those with daily tooth brushing have by far the healthiest mouths. It doesn’t do any good to have the groomer brush them once. It would help to brush twice weekly for any noticeable effect, while daily brushing is more effective.


While senior patients experience dental problems similar to younger patients, many chronic illnesses, particularly periodontal disease, can considerably impact a pet’s quality of life as they age. A healthy oral cavity will improve these pets’ quality of life, but the additional factor of having an anesthetic may occasionally prevent treatment for these animals. Moreover, while some dogs and cats require more routine care than others, virtually all will profit from some care at some time. During your routine visits, inquire about your vet’s viewpoint.