Are you aware that 95% of dogs and cats experience dental disease and some stage of their lives?
We are all aware of the importance of our own oral hygiene, and regular trips to the dentist allow us to monitor it closely. However, while you think that bad breath may just be as a result of forgetting to brush your teeth, in our pets it can be a sign that they are not receiving the correct oral care.
February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and it is an opportunity for us to provide you with the important information you need to be aware of the signs that your pet is fighting an oral hygiene battle, and how you can take steps to prevent it.
While there are many problems associated with bad oral hygiene, one of the most common diseases in dogs and cats is periodontal disease. This disease begins with a build-up of plaque and, when left to harden, this turns into tartar which causes painful gum inflammation. Many of the signs are easy to miss as we don’t often spend time looking inside our pets’ mouths, but the signs we can look out for include: bad breath, discoloured teeth, and swollen gums, which may lead to bleeding and pus discharge.
All of these symptoms can make eating and chewing toys very uncomfortable or painful, so a loss of appetite or hesitancy to play with their toys could also be an indicator of disease. If the periodontal disease is allowed to progress it can cause permanent damage such as tooth loss. In some cases, the bacteria produced by periodontal disease can also travel in the bloodstream, infecting the kidneys, liver and heart. We like happy and healthy pets, and many illnesses can be prevented by proper oral hygiene, so we have put together some tips on keeping your pets' teeth and gums clean and healthy.
Dogs and cats would love nothing more than to be treated with a delicious dental chew every now and then. Not only do they help with bad breath, but they also improve their oral health, helping reduce tartar and plaque build up. The act of chewing the bone will also massage your pet's gums and clean their teeth naturally. Please note that this is not to be used as a substitute for regular tooth brushing.
This is an easy and simple way of making sure your pet receives some oral care, as kibble provides a mechanical brushing effect on the teeth, which helps to remove plaque and tartar. Your vet can recommend the correct food for your pet, and with the Medivet Healthcare Plan, you can receive 10% off Hill’s, Royal Canin and Supreme foods.
Although it may not be the easiest, brushing your pet’s teeth is the most effective method for ensuring your pet's teeth remain clean and plaque-free. There is a variety of pet toothpaste and toothbrushes available but they may be different for dogs and cats, so we would suggest that you ask your vet for a recommendation. Never use human toothpaste as it is toxic to animals. The best time to attempt brushing your pet’s teeth would be when they have had sufficient exercise, so are more likely to be calmer and more relaxed. If your pet becomes agitated and shows signs of stress then do not continue; rather start slowly and increase the time every day until they are comfortable.
When it comes to cleaning your pet’s teeth, no one is more qualified to do so than your vet. We recommend that your pet has a check-up every 6-12 months (just as we would when visiting the dentist), where your vet will also be able to assess your pet’s oral hygiene. We offer free dental checks, and many of our practices also offer specialised dental clinics as we believe prevention is better than cure. What's more, as a member of the Medivet Healthcare Plan you will receive 15% off dental procedures, should it be too late for prevention.
If you have any questions about your pet’s oral hygiene or would like to find out more about it, please do not hesitate to contact your local Medivet practice. They will be able to offer you advice and information tailored to your pet’s specific needs.