Dental disease is a very common problem in dogs and cats, affecting more than 80% of dogs over the age of 3. This is no surprise really because just like us, tooth brushing is an important part of the routine maintenance of oral health for our pets. However, how many of us can say that we routinely brush our pets’ teeth, at least once a day!
Without regular brushing plaque forms and there is tartar buildup on teeth. Plaque harbours bacteria that infect the gums, causing bad breath in dogs and cats. If left unattended, these bugs will quickly cause gum disease and ultimately tooth loss, not to mention quite a lot of pain and discomfort. They also find their way into the bloodstream, especially when your pet is eating or chewing, causing damage in remote organs of the body like the heart and liver.
If your pet has dental pain they may not always show obvious signs and may maintain normal appetite and behaviour, though you may notice the bad breath. So, there is nothing better than regularly checking your pet’s teeth and gums for signs of problems.
One of the team of PawSquad online vets can talk you through a routine pet dental health check that you can do at home, explain what signs to look out for that might indicate developing problems, and, of course, how to brush your pet’s teeth. They can also tell you about some of the more clinically proven solutions that can be used alongside brushing to maintain good oral hygiene.
What factors contribute to poor oral hygiene?
- Age and lack of any home dental care
- Breed / genetics – Some breeds are genetically more prone to dental disease than others; for example, Poodles, Greyhounds, Maltese Terriers, Chihuahuas, and Siamese and Abyssinian cats.
- Tooth alignment / facial conformation – Short-nosed breeds like Pugs and Persian cats can have significant problems because their short noses often result in significant tooth misalignment. This is not a disease, simply a fact of their particular anatomy. This can cause trouble with food and plaque becoming stuck in those hard to reach places.
- Diet – wet foods are generally less abrasive and allow plaque to form more easily on tooth surfaces.
- Infectious diseases e.g. calicivirus can predispose animals to painful gum inflammation.
What signs can I look out for?
- Bad breath! You do not have to put up with “Doggy breath”. It is in fact a sign of dental disease! Good oral hygiene can help prevent this.
- Evidence of a buildup of tartar on teeth – This appears as a brown/ white chalky or calcified material attached to the teeth surface, and is often accompanied by sore, bleeding or inflamed looking gums.
- Loose or missing teeth.
- Difficulty eating or chewing food.
- Sensitivity to touch around the mouth.
- “Pawing” at or excessive rubbing of the face and mouth.
- Aggression or behavioural changes can indicate that your pet is in pain from dental disease.
Speak to an online vet today to discuss what actions you can take to prevent dental disease in your pet.