Dental problems in our pet – an entirely preventable problem!

Did you know; two thirds of dogs and cats over the age of 3 years old will have some dental problems
to some degree? It is an astonishing statistic and the numbers only get higher as the animals get older.
However, the good news is that with some simple home care techniques and veterinary treatment the
damage can be reversed or even prevented from happening in the first place.

Dental problems in pets will vary in severity from a mild plaque and tartar staining to marked tartar
build-up, gingivitis, bacterial infections, rotten tooth roots. Not only are these unsightly and a prime
cause of ‘doggy breath’ they are also very painful and can be damaging to the body. Bacteria are able
to thrive on the tartar and spread in the blood stream to other parts of the body, putting significant
pressure on internal organs such as the kidneys, liver and heart.

Signs your pet might have a problem include smelly breath, brown tartar build-up, which is especially
common on the back teeth, and sore and swollen gums. One important thing to remember is that
although dental problems can be very painful, they will rarely stop an animal from eating, so don’t
assume that just because your pet’s appetite is normal, there isn’t a problem with their teeth.

There are many things you can do at home to prevent dental problems in your pet and to reverse
more mild changes. The best way of keeping a pet’s teeth clean is to brush them regularly; daily is best
but every second or third day is adequate. Brushing is best introduced when a pet is young but older
animals, with patience and perseverance, can be trained to accept it as well. It is very important to
use a special pet toothpaste, human toothpastes irritate the stomach when they are swallowed (our
pets don’t know to spit!) and the pet ones are meat flavoured which makes them more acceptable. For
the best advice on how to brush your pet’s teeth, ask the nurses in our practice, they will be more than
happy to help.

Other methods of keeping our pet’s teeth clean include; special edible chews which scrape the plaque
and tartar off the teeth and non-edible chews which do the same job but are better for those dogs with
very powerful jaws or who seem to devour the edible ones in seconds! There are dental biscuits which
can be added to your pet’s usual food, or given as treats, which again scrape the teeth clean as they are
eaten. These are particularly useful for cats. Also available are powders which soften the tartar on the
teeth, making the biscuits and chews more efficient. All of these are available in the practice and our
staff will be happy to discuss with you which would best suit your pet.

For some animals, by the time dental problems are diagnosed it is too late for home care to have an
effect and they need their teeth sorting out under an anaesthetic. We make sure these procedures are
very safe by using the most modern drugs and techniques and, for our more mature patients, offering
blood tests and intravenous fluids to support them through the surgery. The advantages of these
operations; clean teeth, the removal of rotten roots and a pain free mouth for your pet, generally far
out-weigh any risks of the operation.

Dental problems in our pets are common and can be very damaging to their health. However, they are
easily diagnosed by a simple examination and easily treated by starting regular home care, which can
prevent your pet needing surgical treatment or stop the problems recurring after they have had their
teeth cleaned under an anaesthetic.

Please phone your vet surgery for more information and to book a dental check for your pet.

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