Dental Care for Pets
Diseases of the teeth and gums are very common in pets, especially as they age. It has been demonstrated that 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats will show signs of dental disease by the time they are three years old.
By starting preventative care at a young age you can help maintain the hygiene of your pet’s mouth.
Plaque is a soft, gray film that can be easily removed; tartar forms from accumulation of plaque when calcium and other substances are deposited in the plaque. If your pet has tartar on its teeth a general anaesthetic may be needed to remove it.
There are several simple steps that you can take at home to remove plaque and prevent tartar.
Feed food that will help the teeth stay clean.
It is recommended that pets spend at least 20-30 minutes chewing each day to assist in dental hygiene. Chewing is undoubtedly an important part of helping our pets keep their teeth clean. We’ve all observed that when our pet chews or gnaws for a period of time, the salivary glands are stimulated and saliva is released into the mouth. What you may not have realised is that saliva has some amazing antibacterial properties, which in combination with the scrubbing effect from a chew, can help control the buildup of plaque and the development of periodontal disease.
Hill’s t/d™ diet is a balanced diet that has been clinically proven to ensure teeth and gums are cleaned every time your pet crunches into the kibble pieces.
Seared meat fed in large chewy chunks, may help pets that won’t eat dried diets. For a cat, mouse-sized pieces should be fed. Bones are no longer recommended as a means of maintaing clean teeth, this is because of the high rate of complications such as oral and dental trauma. Instead we recommend feeding ‘Bully Sticks’ or other dried animal tissues as a great way to get your pet gnawing. Remember that treats are a source of calories and may cause weight gain or gastrointestinal upset if given too often.
Brushing is Best
The best method of cleaning your pet’s teeth at home is brushing. This is best done with a special enzymatic dog or cat toothpaste. The toothpaste is used with a very soft dog or cat toothbrush or finger toothbrush. Do not use human toothpaste. Toothpaste for dogs and cats does not need to be rinsed and is pleasantly flavoured so many pets can be trained to enjoy the process. Brush gently under the gum line as well as the outer teeth surfaces so that plaque is removed. Dental brushing will need to be performed for a minute or two, several times a week as a minimum.
Special water additives such as “Healthy Mouth” can help to reduce plaque accumulation and complement the cleaning action of diets or brushing, these products are available at the Hospital and come in a range of yummy flavours.
Even with the best of home care, teeth need to be checked regularly and some pets will need their teeth scaled and cleaned on a regular basis. Untreated dental disease results in infection and discomfort in the mouth. This can lead to serious problems such as bacteria entering the blood stream, potentially damaging the heart valves and other organs.
At Prahran Vet Hospital we offer free dental checks all year round. Please ring the Hospital to arrange an appointment with one of our nursing team, call (03)95101335