Why is it important to look after my pets teeth?
Dental problems can be painful and get progressively worse if left untreated. We are our pets advocate, therefore it is imperative to look after our dogs’ and cats’ teeth to make sure they remain happy and healthy. There are some very simple preventative measures that can be taken to protect pets from dental disease and ensure good oral hygiene.
What is Dental Disease?
Canine Periodontitis or dental disease as it is also known is a bacterial infection, which can affect the mouths of cats’ and dogs’. There are three stages, which if left untreated can get progressively worse and lead to the removal of teeth.
What are the stages of dental disease?
Gingivitis – First stage
Plaque is a clear stick substance that coats the teeth. If this is not removed daily it moves to stage two.
Plaque that does not get removed calcifies and turns into very hard material called calculus or tartar. This cannot be brushed away and would need a professional clean to remove. There are hundreds of types of bacteria, which can get trapped behind the calculus that eats away at the tissue and bone.
Severe Periodontal Disease
Once the calculus has been removed under anaesthetic, the vet can see the true state of the disease. The bacteria can eat away at the bone and ligaments that hold the teeth in place. The roots of the teeth are likely to be exposed and therefore periodontal disease sufferers will usually have gum recession.
What are the symptoms of dental disease?
If you are concerned that your dog or cat is suffering from dental disease, there are a number of signs and symptoms that you can look out for at home.
- Smelly breath
- Receding gums
- Yellow or brown teeth
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Loose or missing teeth
- Reduced appetite or weight loss
How can I prevent dental disease in my dog or cat?
Dental disease is entirely preventable with good oral hygiene at home and support from your vets.
Cleaning your dogs’ and cats’ teeth
Brushing your dog’s teeth
There is nothing better than to brush your pets’ teeth regularly – daily if possible. If brushing your dog’s teeth is difficult there are a number of alternatives, which can be used in conjunction.
Dentaflex is a new dental chew made by Pedigree. It has an improved design over Dentastix. The chew is specially designed to effectively reduce the build up of plaque and calculus close to the gum line and provides a deep clean from just two chews a weeks.
Top tip: this chew has less that 1.5% fat. It is still worth giving your dog slightly less normal food on the days they receive one of these.
Dental diets are designed to clean the teeth as the animal chews. They are larger kibble than normal diets. We recommend Hills TD. The kibbles contain a special fibre matrix with aligned fibre that help the kibble engulf the tooth before it splits. This provides a gentle scraping action that helps reduce the build up of plaque, tartar and stains.
Top tip: Look out for the seal of approval VOHC. This means that the dental product has been tested for its use in the reduction of dental disease
Even though dental diets are specially formulated for dental care they are not as good as brushing.
Toys to avoid
Antlers, Bones and Nyla Bones
Dogs teeth are not designed for crushing. Wild animals eat the meat from the bone and then leave it untouched – they do not continue to chew the bone. Whilst they may be tasty, antlers and bones are too hard and wear down your dogs teeth. They can also cause fractures, which can lead to tooth removal or root canal treatment.
Although dogs love chasing a ball it should not be one with a material outer. The material gathers up sand and grit that then rubs on the teeth causing them to wear down. This can cause sensitive parts of the dogs teeth to be exposed.
Swap tennis balls for a ball that is made of non-toxic rubber and is BPA free. It is also important that you choose the right size for your dog. Too small and they can choke, whereas if it is too big it can affect the way the jaw lines up,.
Dental Treatment for dogs
If you have concerns over your dogs’ or cats’ teeth book an appointment to see one of your qualified nurses for a free oral health examination. The nurse will examine your pets teeth to check for any signs of dental disease. They can demonstrate how to brush your pets teeth effectively and they can also give advice on any dental care options needed.
If the nurse has come across any dental issues with your pets mouth, a vet appointment will be necessary. The vet can diagnose any problems and carry out a physical examination. They will also be able to give you an estimate of cost for any dental treatment or surgery in our state of the art dental suite that may be required.