Most animals have teeth and eat food.

That makes them vulnerable to gum disease. Humans usually take care of their teeth and do not always think of their pets potentially experiencing the same problems as they do. Unfortunately our furry friends are just as vulnerable as we are to gum disease, with a staggering 80% of dogs suffering with a tooth or gum problem by the time they are three. Just as concerning, is fact that around 70% of cats suffer dental problems by the age of three.

When your pet eats, food and saliva build up on the teeth along with bacteria. This is what causes plaque on human and animals teeth. If left untreated the plaque will build up on their teeth. You will see the yellowish staining on the tooth but the plaque gets below the gum line too. Untreated plaque becomes hard and turns into tartar. This tartar contains infection creating bacteria which can cause significant damage if left untreated. Your pet’s mouth can be affected in numerous ways. This includes:

  • compromising of the supportive tissue and bone
  • their gums could become red and inflamed or even bleed

These infections if not treated over long periods of time can cause more than just bad breath, your pet could lose their teeth. The infection could spread to other parts of the body such as the kidney, liver and heart. Dental disease is preventable, in most cases.

What if my pet has dental disease?

If your pet is showing any symptoms of dental disease, make an appointment. Our professional veterinarians will need to do an assessment. You need to have your pet or pets examined on a regular basis. It is best to include this in your annual visit to the vet.

Should it become necessary, your vet will recommend a professional dental clean. When your pet needs a full professional cleaning, they will need to go under anaesthetic. This is to make sure your furry friend does not suffer any unnecessary stress. The veterinarian will then carry out a complete and thorough examination of your pet’s dental health, after cleaning all their teeth properly. Our vet will note all the teeth and the condition they are in. They evaluate the amount of tartar on the teeth, if there is any gingivitis or gum inflammation and if there are any pockets in your pet’s gums or around the teeth.

The dentist will use a tool called an ultrasonic scaler. This tool removes tartar that appears above the gum line. This is the same tool as the one used by your dentist. With a fine-grade paste and dental polisher your furbaby will then get a polish. Depending on the severity of the dental disease no further procedures will be necessary and your pet can go home.

Teeth that the vet feels are too decayed to save will have to be extracted. When teeth are extracted there is a chance that holes are left in the gum. The veterinarians will use a dissolvable stitch to close the holes. Your pet will potentially get an antibiotic and an anti-inflammatory injection. After the procedure is complete and the injections have been administered the vet will switch off the anaesthetic gas. Your pet will then wake up gradually and be given a quick exam and then be able to go home. This surgery is generally just a day procedure.

When your pet is at home you need to minimise the buildup of tartar going forward. There are various steps to follow depending on how severe the dental disease is. Your vet may recommend regular brushing of your pet’s teeth, giving them raw meaty bones or a special diet. To make sure that the dental cleaning has alleviated the situation and that the steps to prevent further damage are working you need to take your pet for a follow up exam 6 months after the professional cleaning.

How can I minimise ongoing dental disease?

We all want our pets to be healthy and happy, that means we need to take care of their teeth. Pets need to get into a dental hygiene routine from a young age. This makes it less stressful for them and for you.

There are routines to implement at home that minimise the risk of dental disease, or reduce the severity of existing suffers with dental problems. Brush your pet’s teeth every day. Just like humans brushing an animal’s teeth is the best way to curtail dental complications. Pets have their own special tooth brushes and toothpaste. Do not use toothpaste meant for humans, our toothpaste is designed not to be swallowed. It can be toxic to pets.

Raw meaty bones help prevent the buildup of tartar. Our vets may recommend a special diet if necessary.

There have been a lot of advances in dental toys. Chews that have tartar busting enzymes and biscuits designed to clean your pet’s teeth can be used. Take your pet for a regular dental checkup. Annual visits to the vet for a dental examination could avoid the need for anaesthetic and a professional clean. Healthy teeth and gums help your pet’s overall health.

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