Looking after the dental health of your pet is very important.  By the young age of three most dogs and cats have some degree of dental disease. Unfortunately, this is not noticed by many pet owners until later in their lives as pets tend to hide signs of discomfort a little bit better than we do. It is usually not until owners notice that their furry friend has smelly breath which is a common sign of dental disease.

What are the other signs of dental disease?

Some signs of dental disease can be more subtle than others, but they are still important to identify.

  • Plaque and Tartar build-up

Plaque is a film on the teeth that is composed of bacteria; when this accumulates, it can harden into tartar.

  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Difficulty eating or chewing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Pain

If your pet is reluctant to let you touch their mouth, outside or inside, they may be experiencing pain. Pain occurs when tartar and food are trapped below the gum line.

Importance of regular examinations

We recommend regular examinations by a veterinary surgeon or nurse to determine if your pet needs teeth cleaning or something more invasive like a dental extraction. A routine dental cleaning involves scaling and polishing of the teeth but if an extraction is needed the vet will discuss this procedure with owners prior to doing so. We also offer dental x-ray which is important to determine the health of the roots of the teeth and surrounding bone.

Although this may prove to be difficult, we would highly recommend regular teeth brushing for your pet. We offer a variety of toothbrushes, toothpaste and water additives specifically designed for pets (not human toothpaste!). Pets who have 100% wet food diets are particularly vulnerable, so we recommended appropriate dry food and dental chews which helps to crack off some plaque buildup.

Thanks to Laura Creedon, Veterinary Nurse, for her insights into this area.