Dental health for pets

Dave DeaneFeatured, Pets

Vaccination is only a small part of your pet’s annual health check. Your vet will also be doing a full clinical exam and checking that your pet is fit and healthy. One of the most common areas to discover problems is your pet’s mouth.

Dental disease is the most common health problem seen in cats and dogs, with more than half of dogs aged over two years old having gum disease. 

Dental disease is caused by a build-up of tartar on your pet’s teeth which if ignored can lead to irreversible damage to the gums and jaw bone, potentially leading to loss of teeth. Lots of bacteria live on this tartar and the bacteria, in turn, can then enter the bloodstream and cause damage to internal organs.  

Don’t panic though, dental disease can be prevented! As with humans, brushing daily is the key to preventing dental disease. Feeding specific dental diets and dental chews can help, but they are not a replacement for tooth brushing.  

Because pets are very good at hiding dental pain, it is important for us to keep a close eye on their mouth. Regularly checking your pet’s mouth for signs of dental disease, along with taking your pet to the vet for regular dental check-ups, plays an important role in caring for your pet. 

Signs of dental disease include: 

  • Red or bleeding gums
  • Discoloured or loose teeth
  • Smell from their mouth

Prevention is always better than cure!

If your pet does develop dental disease there is lots that can be done. Scaling and polishing is the most common form of treatment but sometimes teeth need to be extracted also. Your vet can help advise you on the appropriate dental treatment needed for your pet.

Tips on brushing pets’ teeth:

  • Introduce brushing slowly from a young age.
  • Take it slow, and make it a positive experience by rewarding them each time.
  • Start by just introducing the tooth brush into their mouth. You don’t have to use toothpaste, but if you do, don’t use human toothpaste as fluoride is harmful to dogs.
  • Use an enzymatic toothpaste.This helps to break down the plaque on the teeth.
  • Establish a daily routine.
  • It will take time, be patient.