While dental disease is one of the most common conditions we see in veterinary practice, it can easily go unnoticed at home. The reality is that our pets need just as much dental care as we do! Missing the early signs of dental disease can lead to inflamed gums (gingivitis), severe tartar accumulation, and potential infection which can cause secondary problems throughout the body.
In some cases, we will need to perform a scale and polish under general anaesthetic - and sometimes even extract unhealthy teeth - to return a pet’s teeth to good health. We examine your pet’s teeth routinely during their annual check-up, but there are also things that can be done at home to help keep them clean and healthy.
Dental treats and dental diets
Oravet Chews for dogs work specifically to dislodge plaque that is already present while being chewed and also form a barrier to help protect against the bacteria that leads to plaque and tartar build-up.
Greenies Dental Treats for cats are shaped to allow teeth cleaning while being chewed and are approved by VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) for tartar reduction.
The shape and size of Royal Canin Dental kibbles are made to “grab” the tooth, which in turn provides a brushing effect as the tooth penetrates the kibble. These diets have been scientifically proven to reduce the build-up of tartar.
Dental toys for dogs
There is a large range of dental toys purposely designed to promote chewing, with most being made of soft rubber to help rub early plaque from teeth. This type of prolonged chewing also produces lots of protective salivae.
Brushing your pet’s teeth is the gold standard of preventative dental care when performed daily, however, it can be difficult to get started if your pet hasn’t had their teeth brushed before – include toothbrushing as a part of your pet’s daily routine as early as possible, preferably as a young puppy or kitten. It is important to go slowly when trying this for the first few times.
- Make sure you have an appropriate toothbrush or finger brush, as well as pet toothpaste (human toothpaste is not suitable for pets). Our vets and nurses can help you select which brush and toothpaste are suitable for your pet.
- Introduce the brush by itself first, even with some peanut butter or tuna juice on it to make it appealing and interesting. Let your pet sniff and lick at the brush first before brushing teeth straight away.
- After 3-4 successful brushes, introduce the toothpaste as well. Most pet toothpaste is beef or chicken flavoured.
Signs your pet might have dental disease
- Bad breath (halitosis)
- Excess salivation
- Pawing or rubbing at the mouth or face
- Swelling around the mouth or jaw
If you notice any of the above signs or have any concerns regarding your pet’s dental health, please talk to one of our nurses for further advice and whether an appointment with a vet is needed.