Dry Mouth: Learn to Spot the Red Flags
February is National Pet Dental Health Month and a great opportunity for us all to be reminded of the benefits of caring for our pet’s dental health. We know a healthy pet is a happy pet and there are a few things we can do preventatively to ensure a healthy mouth and possibly extend our pet’s life. We know we can brush our pet’s teeth, provide healthy chews and make sure they are evaluated, yearly, by a veterinarian for a dental cleaning. However, sometimes that is still not enough. Especially for pets with a condition called xerostomia, aka dry mouth. Yes, just like people, pets can have dry mouths too.
WHAT IS DRY MOUTH?
Dry mouth is much more common than many realize. For some, the concept that a dog or cat can have a dry mouth may be confusing. A dry mouth doesn’t mean your pet won’t have saliva or won’t drool. For pets, it can mean either insufficient quantity or quality of saliva. When this happens this important antibacterial and physiological mechanism are disrupted, and saliva can lose some of its protective benefits.
Regrettably, dry mouth is often misdiagnosed or overlooked. If left untreated it can lead to a serious decline in oral health. Such as creating an environment for bacterial and fungal overgrowth. Dry mouth is one of the hidden causes of gum disease, tooth loss, or oral lesions. You can learn to spot the red flags that could indicate a problem.
SPOT THE RED FLAGS
The first red flag you might notice is BAD BREATH. There can be many reasons for severe halitosis but a pet with a dry mouth will most often have really bad breath. The odor is due to the oral flora in the mouth becoming unbalanced and the bacteria and/or yeast multiplying. From here, dry mouth can have a domino effect on other areas in the mouth.
Red Flags of Dry Mouth in Pets:
- Plaque accumulation
- Tooth decay
- Pets on medications
- Aging pets
- Health conditions such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, hypertension, etc.
COMMON MEDICATIONS WHICH CAN CONTRIBUTE TO DRY MOUTH
There are many commonalities of dry mouth in pets and people in the symptoms as well as the causes. There are certain health conditions that can predispose a person or a pet, such as diabetes but the leading cause of dry mouth is medications. Some of those medications are:
- Antihypertensives: Furosemide, A.C.E. Inhibitors
- Urinary Incontinence: Phenylpropanolamine
HOW TO MANAGE DRY MOUTH IN PETS
There are several things you can do to help your pet manage dry mouth.
- Offer fresh drinking water daily.
- Develop a consistent oral care routine that you can incorporate into your pet’s daily lifestyle.
- Provide regular veterinary visits.
- Use oral care products formulated for pets with dry mouths, such as ORATENE® Brushless Oral Care.
ORATENE Enzymatic Brushless Oral Care line has been recommended by veterinarians for over 20 years to help keep your dog or cat’s teeth clean, breath fresh, gums healthy, and carefully balance the oral flora. Each product has been formulated to be safe for dogs and cats and features two complete multi-complex patented enzyme systems based on 35+ years of enzyme technology. ORATENE works to eliminate harmful odor-causing bacteria and fungi, inhibit the formation of plaque biofilm, and replenishes what is missing in the pet’s saliva.
The oral care line includes a Drinking Water Additive, a Breath Freshener spray, a Brushless Toothpaste Gel, and an Oral Gel for those with red inflamed gums or painful mouth conditions. The line is available on the Zymox website, at veterinary clinics, pet specialty stores as well as authorized brand seller brand partners’ websites.