Imagine what your mouth would look like if you hadn’t brushed your teeth for years. Not a pretty sight. So what about your pet? When last did you think about his or her dental health? Chances are if you haven’t been vigilant about your pet’s dental health you’ll find his teeth are stained and brown, that his gums may be red and inflamed and that he may have hard, gristly lumps stuck to the sides of his teeth. These are all signs of periodontal disease. A scary 85% of pets over the age of three will have some degree of periodontal disease and although dogs and cats do not suffer with cavities the way we do, they can get tartar build up, inflamed gums, gum recession, infection and tooth root abscesses. Even scarier are the long-term effects of bad teeth: bacteria from the mouth can end up in the blood stream and affect the heart and other organs. A sore mouth can prevent your pet from eating leading to anorexia, weight weight and poor body condition.
What should I do?
Take your pet to the vet for a professional dental check-up, just the way you’d take yourself to see the dentist. Your vet will scale and polish your pet’s teeth and if they are in a bad way, may need to remove those that are diseased and damaged. Once you have the all clear from your vet there are several things you can do at home to keep his or her teeth in tip-top shape.
- Provide your pet with toys that have an abrasive action on the teeth when chewed. Spread a little pet toothpaste on the toy; this is usually tasty and it helps to clean at the same time. Never use human toothpaste.
- When choosing treats to reward your pet’s good behaviour, opt for those that have a dental action. EberVet Vetshops sell a variety of tooth-friendly chews for cats and dogs.
- Feed primarily dry pet foods. Premium brands like Hill’s Prescription Diet™Canine t/d™ is specially formulated to help take care of your pet’s teeth. Its gentle scraping action helps reduce tartar build-up, plaque and stains.
- Daily brushing is the best option if you are serious about your pet’s dental health but start slowly. Allow your pet to taste the toothpaste, smeared on a favourite chew toy or for cats, put a little on their foot so they can lick it off. Use pet toothpaste only; never toothpaste meant for humans. Once they’re comfortable with the toothpaste move onto cleaning the teeth with your finger. It is only necessary to clean the cheek side of the teeth; the tongue side is cleaned with saliva. When your pet is comfortable with your finger cleaning, try a pet-specific tooth brush. First offer them a little toothpaste on it to lick off. Once you introduce the brush into the mouth, be careful to have control and not jab it in. EberVet Vetshops stock pet toothpaste and brushes and our staff can advise you on the best make for your size pet.
If brushing appears to be painful, get to the vet asap for a professional dental exam.