National Pet Dental Health Month

February is dental health month for pets, which is a perfect time to schedule a visit for a free dental examination with the veterinary nurse.

Keeping your pet’s teeth and gums in good shape has many more benefits than just fresh breath. Regular cleanings and a few minutes of brushing each week can help give your pet a longer, healthier life. Most dogs and cats develop dental disease by 3 years of age. And the faster the disease is treated, the easier it is to manage.

Why looking after your pet’s teeth is so important?

  • Liver, kidney and heart disease – dental infections may lead to these diseases if left untreated
  • Shortened life expectancy – poor dental health can shorten the life of your pet
  • Bad breath – a result of neglected teeth and gums
  • Unpleasant looking teeth – teeth can look nasty and harbour bacteria
  • Weight loss – bad teeth and infected gums can lead to a reduced appetite

Your dog’s teeth develop a build-up of plaque just like ours do. When plaque isn’t brushed away, it hardens and forms tartar which, if not treated, can cause gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). This may lead to bacteria entering the bloodstream, causing damage to vital organs, such as the kidneys, liver and heart.

Natural chews and specially-designed dental toys are a great way of keeping teeth strong and healthy.

Signs of dental disease

  • Bad breath
  • Sensitivity around the mouth
  • Loss of appetite
  • Yellow or brown deposits on the teeth
  • Bleeding, inflamed, or receding gums
  • Loose or missing teeth
  • Pawing at the mouth or face
  • Difficulty chewing

Dogs & Cats

There are specially designed foods, toys and chew available to help keep pet’s teeth clean. While these can help, regular toothbrushing is the best way to keep the teeth clean and healthy. Feeding bones is not recommended as they can damage the teeth or gums and fragments can become stuck in the throat.

Brushing

Regular tooth brushing is the most effective way of preventing future build-up of plaque and you may find it much easier than you thought to brush your pet’s teeth.  Special toothbrushes and toothpastes are designed for pets. Human toothpastes should not be used as they contain ingredients which should not be swallowed.

Pets should be introduced to toothbrushing as young as possible, though it can be successfully started in adult animal. Make sure your pet is comfortable, place a small amount of toothpaste on your finger and let your pet sample the flavour. Next, introduce the toothbrush.

Scale & Polish

If the veterinary nurse thinks your pet’s teeth would benefit from a more thorough initial clean, they may recommend that they are cleaned above and below the gum-line.  This is known as a scale and polish and requires your dog to be anaesthetised.  Your dog would typically spend the day at the surgery before going home with you in the afternoon.

Rabbits

Unlike human teeth, rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout their life. This means that they need to nibble constantly, to wear their teeth down. Wild rabbits achieve this by eating lots of grass. Pet rabbits should have constant access to good quality hay. If rabbits don’t eat enough grass or hay, their teeth can become overgrown, leading to painful mouth ulcers. In severe cases, overgrown tooth roots can even penetrate the eye socket. Hay is essential in helping to prevent such tragic cases.

Vets advise that rabbits should fed as follows:

  • At least their body size in hay each day
  • A handful of fresh vegetables morning and evening
  • One tablespoon of nuggets once a day for rabbits under 3.5kg, or one tablespoon twice a day for rabbits over 3.5kg

For the month of February, we are celebrating pet dental month, We are offering free dental examinations by the veterinary nurse. If you feel that your pet is experiencing any signs of dental disease or just want an examination, book an appointment with the nurse on 028 3752 6777