August Is Dental Month!
30th July 2019
We love to get close to our furry friends, but is bad breath keeping you at a distance? Bad breath might be a sign of dental disease. Read more to find out the signs of dental disease and what you can do to get your pets teeth clean and their breath fresh! Call for a FREE dental check during August. Receive a FREE dental kit with any dog or cat booking for a Dental Scale & Polish.
Doggy breath may be a great topic for jokes, but it’s no laughing matter!
Dental disease is the most common disease of adult dogs and cats and is a primary cause of bad breath. What’s more, it is often a silent process that progresses without detection. Even in severe cases, cats and dogs may not show obvious discomfort - you may only notice bad breath or, occasionally, saliva stain from drooling on the fur around the mouth. Many pet owners assume bad breath is normal in dogs and cats, and don’t think to look inside their pets’ mouths to find out what’s causing it.
What causes dental disease?
The main offender is plaque, that furry film that builds up on our own teeth between brushings. It’s the same for cats and dogs. Plaque is a mixture of saliva, food particles and bacteria, and when not removed it results in red, painful, inflamed gums, a condition called gingivitis. Plaque can also precipitate minerals from the saliva and harden to form tartar (aka calculus). Without plaque removal or control, gingivitis progresses eventually to inflammation and destruction of tooth support structures, resulting in tooth loss. This is called periodontitis, or periodontal disease.
What’s even more alarming, in patients with periodontal disease, bacteria can enter the blood via tiny blood vessels in the gums, particularly while the pet is chewing. The bacteria can be carried throughout the body via the bloodstream, potentially infecting other body organs such as the liver, kidneys and heart muscle.
A problem at all ages
Dental disease is more common as pets get older. The major cause of gum disease is accumulation of plaque, which contains a large number of bacteria. These bacteria can spread to the lungs, liver, kidney and heart, causing infection there. Periodontal disease is painful, even though your pet may not show it.
Your vet will be able to spot any problems during your pet’s check-up, but until then, here are some things to look out for:
- Bad breath – bad breath is not normal!
- Yellow and brown tartar deposits on the teeth – normal teeth should always be white
- A red line along the gum line (gingivitis)
- Difficulty eating
- Bleeding gums
How do I prevent dental disease in my pets?
Good oral health is achieved through a combination of professional veterinary teeth cleaning and homecare. It is so important to have your pet examined by a veterinarian before deciding on the best course of action. Your vet will advise whether your pet’s teeth need a professional clean, with or without tooth removal, and what type of ongoing homecare suits your pet’s needs. While tooth brushing at home to remove plaque on a regular basis is the gold standard for home dental care, in reality this is difficult for most pet owners to achieve. Dental diets in addition or as an alternative can help.
A good brush:
There are 3 parts to taking care of your pet’s teeth:
1) Regular tooth brushing,
2) A special food that works like a toothbrush
3) Regular check-ups with your vet – every 6 months or AT LEAST once a year
Brushing will be easier if you begin while your pet is still young, although you may have success even if you start with an older dog, provided she doesn’t already have painful gum disease.
Don’t use toothpaste designed for people, as there are pastes specially designed for pets that are safer. Ask your vet or vet nurse what he or she would recommend and get them to show you what to do.
You should brush your pet’s teeth at least once a week, but once a day is best.
The ‘edible toothbrush’!
Hill’s™ Prescription Diet™ t/d™
How do the Hill’s Dental diets work?
It might be tempting to think that eating ordinary dry kibble may itself reduce plaque accumulation, but this is not in fact the case. Think what happens when a dog bites into a conventional kibble - the kibble merely shatters and crumbles in the mouth after the edge or tip of the tooth comes into contact with the food. Given that plaque and tartar accumulation is in a thick band parallel to the gum-line, conventional kibble has very little effect on reducing plaque accumulation.
In contrast, the Hill’s dental food kibbles, Science Diet™ Oral Care and Prescription Diet™ t/d™, contain a unique fibre matrix. The fibres run parallel to each other, and this unique fibre alignment effectively “scrubs” or “squeegees” the tooth, reducing the accumulation of plaque with each bite.
Ask us for a FREE sample when you come in to the clinic.