Did you know more than 80% of cats and dogs have some form of dental disease? Contrary to common belief, bad breath isn’t normal and can be an sign of dental disease!
What causes dental disease?
Dental disease is the inflammation or infection of the gums caused by a build up of plaque. Plaque forms when food particles, bacteria and debris build up under the gum line. When left on the tooth’s surface, plaque hardens to form a yellow or brown tartar (also known as calculus) which if left untreated, can then lead to receding gums, periodontal disease, tooth root abscesses and tooth decay.
Not only can dental disease be painful for your pet, weekend gums also allow bacteria to cross into the bloodstream and carried throughout the body leading to damage of the liver, heart and kidneys.
How can I tell if my pet dental disease?
Although dental disease can cause a lot of pain and discomfort, pets are very good at hiding when something is wrong. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Bad breath
- Discoloured teeth
- Loose teeth
- Pawing at the mouth
- Reluctance to chew
- Dropping food while eating
- Excessive drooling
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums
- Facial swelling
- Loss of appetite
Are some breeds more prone to dental disease?
While all cats and dogs can be affected by dental disease, some breeds may be predisposed to dental issues due to the acidity or mineral composition of the saliva or how the teeth have formed in the mouth. Pets with short snouts are more prone to dental issues due to lack of jaw space which often results in overcrowding.
Common breeds that are more prone to dental disease include:
- Maltese Terriers
- Cavalier King Charles Spaniels
- Persian Cats
- Abyssinian Cats
How can I help my pet’s teeth stay clean and healthy?
Regular veterinary dental checks to identify dental disease early is key. A professional dental scale and polish to remove tartar and damaged teeth (if required), is the best way to reduce the pain and discomfort of dental disease and to bring your pet’s teeth back to a healthy level.
Just as with humans, plaque will eventually build back up on your pet’s teeth. Depending on the pet and the level of at home dental care provided, a scale and polish may be required once a year or every 2-3 years to maintain good oral health.
There are however a number of ways you can help your pet’s teeth stay cleaner for longer at home. Daily teeth brushing with a pet specific toothpaste and brush, feeding a premium dental diet, providing dental treats or toys and water additives are all great ways to help reduce plaque build up.
Won’t feeding my pet bones do the trick?
While feeding your pet bones can help reduce dental disease to a certain extent, you should never feed your pet cooked bones and even raw bones can pose health risks to your pet.
The risks of feeding your pet bones include:
- Fractured the teeth
- Bone becoming trapped in their mouth or throat
- Bone becoming lodged in the intestines causing a blockage
- Bone splintering
- Bone marrow is also very high in calories and can cause your pet to put on weight
For these reasons we do not recommend feeding your pet bones, however if you insist, larger bones without marrow are the best option.
If you’ve noticed any of the signs listed above, please make an appointment at one of The Vet Lounge clinics for a FREE dental check. One of our friendly nurses will assess and grade your pet’s teeth and provide an estimate for any procedures that may be required.