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  • Writer's pictureDr. Frans Pretorius BVSc

Dental Disease in Pets

Updated: Aug 2, 2021

August is Pet Dental Health Month here at Lyttelton Animal Hospital. Pets are part of the family, and like any other family member, we strive to keep them as healthy as possible. However, even the most conscious pet owners can easily overlook important things regarding their pet’s dental care.

According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), 80% of dogs and 70% of cats older than 3 years of age will manifest some form of dental disease. This can be easily prevented with regular check-ups and visits to your vet. For the month of February we offer 20% discount on all dental procedures. Home monitoring is of great importance too. Checking the mouth of your pet at least once a month can be crucial for preventing dental disease.

Poor dental health can lead to secondary diseases. Studies have shown that dental diseases can lead to heart, lung and liver problems.

Some of the most common dental diseases are gingivitis, stomatitis (smelly breath), broken teeth, retained baby teeth (mostly in dogs), malocclusion (incorrect bite) and FORL (Feline Oral Resorption Lesions).

Pet’s teeth should be brushed at least once a week, and if tolerated, daily. At first, your dog or cat will not comply with this process because it is strange to them.

But with positive reinforcement and treats afterwards, they will learn that there is nothing scary about brushing their teeth 😊 Spoil your fur-kid this month by buying a specially designed toothbrush for your pet and a pet-friendly toothpaste and get 20% off.

By not brushing your pet’s teeth, you allow build-up of bacteria, food leftovers and saliva to collect between the teeth and the gums, and to progress into a tartar build-up. With time, this can advance into periodontal disease which erodes the gums and will result in bad breath, bleeding gums, infection, inflammation and pain.

For pets that don't tolerate brushing oral rinses and water additives are available to assist to decrease the build-up of tartar but it's not as effective as brushing the teeth.

Animals have the same nerve supply in their mouths as us humans, but the difference is that they hide the pain much better. So, don’t be surprised if your fur baby is suffering from a periodontal disease but still eating. Eating is not always a sign that everything is okay.

Most common symptoms of dental disease in pets are:

– red and swollen gums

– brown or grey teeth

– bad breath

– bleeding gums

– pawing the face or rubbing the mouth against objects

– reluctance towards hard food or hard toys

Proper dental hygiene and regular veterinary check-ups can maximize the quality of your pet’s life. When necessary, take your pet for professional dental cleanings. These cleanings include scaling and polishing the teeth and are done under general anesthesia.

Always make sure to feed high-quality food and treats.

You can also use non-edible chews to add to your at-home dental care. Dogs have a natural urge to chew, so these toys can help with natural scaling of tartar on the teeth. Just be careful of worn out toys because they can be hazardous.

You even get a completely balanced diets like Hill’s t/d (teeth diet) and Royal Canin Dental Care that helps prevent tartar buildup and cleans the teeth while eating.

Remember to brush your fur-kid’s teeth and to bring for a consultation if you are not sure that your pet's needs further attention and a dental descale, polish or extractions under general anaesthesia.

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