Dental disease is very common in dogs and cats. Food and bacteria stick to the teeth, forming a creamy coating called plaque. This hardens to form tartar, which spreads under the gumline. Tartar damages the bone and tissue around the teeth, leading to tooth loss. The gums can become red, swollen, painful and can bleed. Like humans, pets should have their teeth taken care of and need to get a dental check-up regularly.
Signs of dental disease include:
- Bad breath
- Difficulty eating
- Pawing at the mouth
- Dropping food
Unfortunately, animals often only show signs of disease when it’s very severe. Luckily, we can both prevent and treat dental disease. The earlier a problem is detected, the easier it is to treat.
The dangers of dental disease
Dental disease isn’t just uncomfortable for an animal, the risks the bacteria cause to the rest of your pet’s health are quite serious. The dangerous bacteria can enter a pet’s bloodstream through their inflamed gums affecting vital organs such as their heart, kidney and liver.
Nutrition is very important in keeping your pet’s mouth healthy. Feeding dry food helps to wipe plaque from the teeth, whereas a wet diet is more likely to stick to the teeth. Hills offer a dry food for both cats and dogs that provides dental protection to freshen breath and reduce plaque build-up.
Brushing your dogs or cats teeth is an important way to prevent plaque building up. Getting your pets used to having their teeth brushed is easy! Start off putting pet toothpaste on your finger and massage his or her lips, then teeth and gums. After a few sessions, switch to using a soft toothbrush. Concentrate on the outside of the teeth, where they touch the cheeks and lips. Aim to brush the teeth at least 2 or 3 times a week.
It’s important to use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for dogs or cats as they are different to those for humans!
Rabbits and dental health
Rabbit’s teeth are constantly growing, and so they often face painful dental problems which can sometimes be fatal. Nutrition and diet is key in keeping a rabbit’s mouth healthy, a rabbit’s natural diet would consist of foods filled with fibre which are perfect for wearing their teeth down. If your rabbit’s teeth become overgrown, it is likely that they aren’t eating enough forage and hay. The majority of a rabbit’s diet should be clean good quality hay, fresh vegetables and greens twice a day, and only a proportionately small amount of produced rabbit foods. Ask your vet for more feeding and healthcare advice.
Animals with dental disease need to undergo a general anaesthetic so that their mouth can be properly assessed. Specialist tools are used to remove tartar and polish the teeth. Severely affected teeth need to be taken out.
Whether your dog or cat is young or old, big or small, a pedigree or a crossbreed, he or she could be affected by dental disease. Visit The Vet for a free dental check today!