Quick Facts And The Truth About Pet Dental Health

Becoming a pet parent is an exciting time, but it also comes with many responsibilities if your new family member is to remain happy and healthy for the duration of her life with you. There are many different aspects to caring for a new pet, from obvious things like feeding them the right diet and ensuring they get enough exercise to getting them vaccinated against contagious illnesses. One part of pet care that is much less well known is the importance of ensuring she has great dental health.

FACT: Dental health is JUST as important for pets

There are several reasons why it is just as important to take care of your pet’s teeth as it is your own.

Prevent pain and suffering

When we suffer from toothache, we can agree that it is a pretty miserable time. Dental pain isn’t just restricted to humans though, and if your pet’s teeth aren’t adequately cared for, they could suffer from dental problems that cause them considerable discomfort. As we are responsible for the health of their teeth, we can help prevent them from unnecessary pain and suffering.

Support dental AND general health

Believe it or not, good dental health is not only about the condition of your pet’s teeth and mouth. Poor oral hygiene and dental problems have been linked to a range of unpleasant and debilitating health conditions, many of which can cause irreversible damage to your pet’s body.

FACT: Pets can develop periodontal disease

80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of periodontal disease by the time they reach their 3rd birthday!

Many people think of gum disease as a purely human problem. However, your pet is just as likely to be affected by the condition as you are. Known by many names including gingivitis, periodontitis and periodontal disease, gum disease occurs when bacteria in plaque that has accumulated on the teeth starts to penetrate beneath the gums. When this happens it causes irritation, soreness and eventually infection. Unless your pet receives treatment, an infection could pass into her body and cause serious health problems including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, kidney problems, liver disorder and some types of cancer.

FACT: You CAN prevent dental problems for your pet

The good news is that most dental conditions are entirely preventable, and even if your pet has started to suffer from the early effects of something like periodontal disease, it is possible to stop the condition from worsening.

Brushing your pet’s teeth is the single best thing you can do to keep her teeth healthy

Most new owners don’t realise that they can brush their pet’s teeth and that this is in fact the best way to ensure she benefits from great oral health. Daily brushing is best, but for some pets it is best to start gradually and build up to brushing daily. If you do it at the same time every day it becomes simple to build into your regular routine.

Human toothpaste is toxic to pets

While you can use a small-headed human toothbrush to clean your pet’s teeth as an alternative to a veterinary variety, you should NEVER share your toothpaste with your furbaby. Our toothpaste contains ingredients that are toxic to animals and could make your pet very sick. Instead, opt for a toothpaste formulated specifically for the breed of your pet, available from any pet store or direct from our veterinarian.

There are tools to support your pet’s dental health

Dental chew sticks and abrasive chew toys can also support your pet’s dental health. Many chews contain ingredients that fight bacteria and boost oral wellbeing, while abrasive chews rub against your pet’s teeth which cleans them. Chewing also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps wash away disease-causing bacteria.

FACT: Brushing your pet’s teeth isn’t as hard as you might think

The idea of restraining an animal to brush her teeth might seem like an impossible task, but with a little patience and practice, both you and your pet will get used to it. The trick is to go at your pet’s pace and find a position and technique which works for both of you. After a while, your pet will learn to tolerate the process or possibly even enjoy it. Just be sure to follow up with lots of positive reinforcement such as praise, attention and playing games.

Professional cleanings are advisable

Most veterinarians will recommend that your pet has an annual professional dental clean. This is performed using general anesthetic so that your pet has no awareness of the procedure and so will not suffer from stress or anxiety. It also means your pet will remain completely still, making the process safer and enabling our vet to perform a truly thorough clean.

For further advice on pet dental health, contact us and speak to our veterinarian who will be pleased to give you the information you need.