Dental disease is more common in pets than you may think.
However, the good news is that there are a number of ways owners can help to prevent or control it.
Between 60 and 80 per cent of cats and dogs aged over three are affected by dental disease and vets take teeth out of dogs regularly.
Often owners are not aware that their pet is suffering from dental disease and the problem is not discovered until the pet comes in to see the vet for a routine check.
Signs to look out for include bad breath, a sore mouth, difficulty eating, loose teeth or tooth loss, pawing or rubbing the mouth, bleeding gums, yellow or brown tartar on teeth and dribbling.
Plaque build-up is an early sign, where the teeth are an off-white colour and it can be easily dislodged with brushing.
When it starts to appear brown, that is tartar or calculus, and it needs to be removed with dental instruments. It provides a rough surface onto which plaque can accumulate more easily.
If your pet’s teeth start to look brown in colour, then it is time for a check with a vet to assess a plan for treatment.
And if your pet’s eating habits have changed, you have noticed smelly breath, or pawing at their mouth then they should come and see us too.
A vet may advise a general anaesthetic for a dental scale and polish, and to get a detailed view of the condition of their teeth, and to see if they need to extract any.
Daily brushing can be very effective in preventing dental disease and easier than you might expect.
We encourage people to start when their pet is a puppy or kitten and get them used to having their teeth brushed.
You must use pet toothpaste, as human toothpaste is toxic to animals. I find the chicken flavoured one works well.
Owners can accustom their pet to brushing gradually over several weeks, starting with letting the pet lick the flavoured toothpaste off a finger.
The teeth should be brushed for between one and two minutes each day.
If you keep it up daily, they should eventually become accustomed to brushing.
Diet also plays a part. Biscuits are better than wet food because they are abrasive. You can also spread pet toothpaste on some dental toys. This will help clear away plaque and disturb the tartar and is enjoyable for the dog to chew.
*At Paragon Veterinary Group we have a 10 per cent discount on dental procedures throughout May and June.