SIMPLE: Life Stage and Dental Care
Why does life stage matter?
Life stage divisions offer a framework for individualized veterinary care for your dog or cat. The stage of life of a dog or cat can affect what diseases he or she may be most prone to and what vaccinations he or she needs. For example, the nutritional needs of a growing puppy or kitten are different than a fully mature adult.
- Puppy/Kitten: Neonate until reproductive maturity
- Junior: Reproductively mature, still growing
- Adult: Finished growing, structurally and socially mature Mature: From middle age up to approximately the last 25% of expected lifespan (a window of time around half of life expectancy for the breed)
- Senior: From maturity to life expectancy (approximately the last 25% of expected lifespan)
- Geriatric: At life expectancy and beyond
What does dental disease have to do with life stage?
Puppies and kittens aren’t born with dental disease - it’s up to you to take care of their oral health. Pets need routine dental cleanings throughout their life to help prevent dental disease. Proper dental care starting at a young age can also prevent other health issues such as heart or kidney disease from appearing as the pet ages.
Why is dental care important?
While most people are aware of the need for human dental care, many pet owners do not realize that their pets are subject to the same dental concerns. It is extremely important to care for your pet’s teeth for the same reasons it’s important to care for our own teeth - ignoring this aspect of your pet’s health can have life-threatening consequences. The most common disease in companion animals is periodontal (gum) disease, affecting at least 70% of dogs and cats over 5 years of age. However, cats and smaller dogs can be affected sooner, as genetically, they are more prone to an increased risk of this disease. As periodontal disease advances, it results in weakening of the structures that support the teeth, leading to the loosening and eventual loss of teeth.