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Dental Care for Dogs and Cats

 09/06/2018

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A common complaint I get from owners is that their pet has bad breath and some are quite surprised when I explain that pets also need routine dental care, much like us.  Dental care should start at home with regular brushing of your pets’ teeth. 

Dental care reduces the risk of periondontal disease, also known as gum disease.  This is when the gums become inflammed, and sometimes even infected.  It is caused by the accumulation of plaque on the teeth, which turns into tartar.  Bacteria accumulate on these rough surfaces, which contributes to inflammation and infection in the mouth.

Common signs of periondontal disease are:

  • Bad breath (halitosis).
  • Red, inflammed gums which may bleed easily.
  • Yellow discolouration of teeth and tartar build up (This is especially common around the molars)
  • Loose teeth.
  • Difficulty or a reluctance to eat.

Periodontal disease is often painful, especially in the advanced stages, and may result in infection spreading to other parts of the body.  The bacteria can spread via the bloodstream to the heart valves and kidneys causing further damage.     

This disease is preventable by routine home care and annual health checks by your veterinarian.  Brushing your pets’ teeth is best started at a young age when learning is optimal.  There are special pet toothpastes which are made to taste great and make accepting the process much easier.  A popular choice is Pet Dent toothpaste or oral gel. 

Please don’t use a human toothbrush! They are too hard and can be painful to your pet. There are dog toothbrushes and finger brushes available. 

Brushing your pets’ teeth will prevent further tartar build up but it doesn’t remove the tartar already on the teeth.  A dental scale and polish at your local vet is advised for those pets with tartar build up so it can be removed.  Orovet oral rinse is a good mouth wash/rinse which helps to reduce the bacteria load in the mouth and also helps control inflammation and prevents infection.

Other ways to assist dental health are dental treats, dry kibbles and mouth wash for pets.  Feeding dry food is better than wet as the action of chewing helps to keep the teeth clean.  Some kibbles crumble easily when bitten into, while other specially formulated kibbles resist that crumbling, further helping to remove plaque build up on the teeth. Eukanuba, Hills and Royal Canin have diets to help reduce tartar and plaque.

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