Dogs and cats need dental care too! Unfortunately this is overlooked by many pet owners. Dental hygiene is just as important to your pets overall health as exercise, diet and grooming but many people just expect dogs to have bad breath.
You should get into the habit of examining your pets teeth, and be aware of any signs that may indicate a problem. Lift up the lips around the mouth and look at the front and back teeth, checking for anything that looks out of the ordinary. Be gentle doing this. At your pets annual check up we will also examine the mouth for any signs of dental disease. Catching problems early will help avoid any serious problems. Watch out for the following signs:-
Pain when chewing or reluctance to chew
Red or puffy gums
Missing or loose teeth
Anything else that looks unusual
The dangers of dental disease
Plaque builds up on the teeth and turns into tartar, a hard yellowish coating on the teeth around the gum-line. These areas grow bacteria which eat away at the gums and teeth causing bad breath, dental disease, oral pain and tooth loss. However worse still is that this bacteria in the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect other parts of the body like the heart and kidneys which is why it is so important to address any problems as soon as possible.
Preventing dental disease
Dogs start out with 28 baby teeth, cats have 26. By 6 months of age these baby teeth should have fallen out and been replaced by permanent teeth, 42 in dogs and 30 in cats. Begin a dental care routine early in your pets life. Get them used to the feeling of getting their teeth brushed and inspected. If you are unable to brush your pets teeth there are other options to help keep teeth healthy. Oral rinses are available which are made especially for pets. You can also purchase special dental treats. Remember never brush your dogs teeth with human toothpaste, it can make your pet sick. Use a finger brush or a special long toothbrush designed for dogs. A specially formulated diet can also help and avoid feeding table scraps. Chewing on dental chewy toys can can also make the teeth stronger and help massage the gums and scrape away soft tartar. We have a range of dental chewy toys for sale in the clinic.
How to brush your pets teeth
Test your pets willingness to have you touch their mouth by rubbing your finger along the gums and teeth. This will get them used to the feel of something against the teeth. Get them used to the taste of the toothpaste by letting them lick it off your finger. When they are happy with you touching their teeth and gums introduce the toothpaste and brush together. Lift the upper lip and as you approach the teeth with the brush angled so the bristles reach the gum-line. Placing the bristles at a 45 degree angle against the teeth will help the bristles massage the gum and clear away plaque. Brush in small circles getting top and bottom of each side. As you move the bristles along the gum-line, some light bleeding may occur. If bleeding is ongoing or heave it may indicate you are brushing to aggressively or be a sign of gum disease. Brush a few teeth at first working up to the whole mouth over time. Aim for two minutes daily in total. If you can get to the inside teeth great but don’t worry too much as the tongue helps keep the inside cleaner. Keep the mood light and give constant praise.
Most of all make sure you attend your vet at least on an annual basis to have your pets teeth checked!! From time to time a professional dental will be required which entails an general anesthetic. During this process your pets teeth and gums will be examined closely and the teeth will be descaled and polished. Any further treatment necessary, such as extractions will also be carried out. Some pets require a professional dental one or more times a year while others can go longer. Be certain to follow recommendations and remember what you do at home can make all the difference!