The Importance Of Good Dental Hygiene For Cats and Dogs

Dental disease and our pets are two words we don’t like to hear in the same sentence, which is why it’s so important to look after our cat’s and dog’s dental hygiene as a priority.

Although diseases of the teeth and gums are fairly common, beginning preventive care at a young age can help maintain the hygiene of your pet’s mouth and avoid unwanted health issues. While dental disease may seem like a relatively minor issue, you would be surprised at the damaging effects advanced dental disease can have on our favourite furry friends.

Despite amazing modern Veterinary medicine, early detection is vital in keeping dental disease at bay. Generally speaking, the older your animal is, the more at risk they are of dental disease and this is particularly true for a few breeds that can be at a genetic disadvantage due to the shape of their mouth and/or crowding of teeth.

What is dental disease?

A fairly common disease, dental disease is categorized over 4 different stages with a fairly common strand called Gum Disease. Stage 1 is very early and very mild build of tartar, which is caused by a build up of bacteria, saliva and food particles, and can progress into more severe tartar build up, signs of plaque and also the beginnings of gingivitis (inflammation of the gum line) at stage 2. The first 2 stages of dental disease are in most cases, manageable and even reversible through the introduction of appropriate dental supplements, dental related foods and a scale and polish under anaesthetic as required. As we move in to stage 3 and 4, the build up of tartar to be cleared is more sever and can cause multiple physical and behavour issues and may require an anesthetic to clean the teeth using an ultrasonic-scaler, by hand and most likely by extractions of teeth.

If you’re worried that your pet may have dental disease, some common signs include:

  • Bad breath
  • Behavioural changes (e.g. lethargy, increased aggression)
    • Discoloured teeth
    • Favouring one side of the mouth while eating
    • Loose teeth/receding gums
    • Excessive drooling, sometimes red tinged
    • Dropping of food from the mouth when eating, or reluctant to chew
    • Inappetence
    • Sensitivity when touching the mouth/face

In order to prevent your animal from getting dental disease, early prevention is the key.

Some great tips include:

Dental diets

A wide range of dental specific diets are available to you at your nearest Veterinary clinic. These specific food products available with essential nutrients while including the required dental benefits to keep your animal’s teeth healthy. 

Treats and chews

Including everything from Dentastix, hard rubber, nylon chews and raw hide, treat your pets to treats and chews that will help to naturally get rid of any unwanted plaque. Talk to the team at our clinic about the best option for your pet.

Brushing of teeth

Yes you read it correctly, brushing their teeth! Think about how yucky your own teeth feel after a day without brushing, so imagine the effect it has on your pet’s teeth after weeks/months/years without brushing. However when brushing, it’s important to use a soft toothbrush and make sure that animal specific toothpaste is used. Slow circles on the teeth and soft brushing along the gum line are the correct ways. If you are starting on a middle aged or elderly dog they will not be used to this activity, so take it slow and make sure the experience is always a positive one (reward with treats!). We suggest you consult with the team at our clinic about how best to introduce brushing into you pet's routine.

If you have any questions about preventative tips or queries on your animal’s dental health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your local Veterinary today.