Looking After Your Pets Teeth
It’s all too easy to neglect even our own dental health until something goes wrong, so it’s no surprise that poor dental health in our pets is something often not identified until it is bad enough that your pet stops eating or starts experiencing issues.
Along with the concern for your pet’s welfare, the cost of a major dental is often a shock. General anaesthetic, dental machines, x-rays and equipment, drugs and time all add-up. Whilst a routine scale and polish may come in under £200 in most sizes of pet, mouths requiring dental x-rays or many teeth removing can cost anything from £200-£600.
Because of this, it is very important to pay attention and put some time into the routine maintenance of your pet’s teeth, to keep them in good condition and prevent them from needing major dental work in the future. There are some things that are difficult to prevent - e.g. injuries such as fractured teeth or viral disease in some cats and some breeds are well known for having bad teeth (terrier breeds mostly!) but a lot can be done to help!
Your vet should check your pet’s mouth at every routine health check alongside their yearly vaccinations. However, it is important where possible to get your pet accustomed from a young age to having their mouth opened and handled by their owners. This goes for handling paws, coat brushing and general examination too.
This enables you as owners to spot changes before they become problems and makes examination of your pet’s mouth far less stressful if they are used to it.
There are a number of things to look out for, including: Halitosis (bad breath), heavy tartar, problems eating and/or gingivitis (inflamed, very red sore gums).
The gold standard of dental care is tooth brushing 3+ times a week, this has been shown to be the most effective method of maintaining your pet’s dental health. As mentioned above, the easiest way to do this is to establish tooth brushing as a part of normal routine from a young age.
It is by no means impossible to start toothbrushing in an older pet but it might take a little longer for them to get used to the idea! If they are happy with letting you check their mouth, there is no reason why they mightn’t let you brush their teeth with a little persuasion.
●Starting with a meaty flavoured toothpaste on your finger, get your pet used to having a little of this rubbed along their gum line.
●Once you are happy that they aren’t too worried by this, you can start using a finger brush and gentle mechanical brushing of the teeth with the paste.
●Continuing with the finger brush is fine, but eventually any small soft toothbrush would be perfectly suitable.
Understandably, many cat owners will be thinking that this is something that does not apply to them but that’s not quite true! When started as a kitten, many cats will tolerate having their teeth cleaned. For those cats where teeth cleaning is really not an option (and this may be the majority!), ensuring that at least part of their diet is in the form of a crunchy dry kibble goes a long way to helping to keep the teeth healthy.
For both cats and dogs there are various other aids to keeping teeth clean, including mouth washes to add to drinking water, dental treats and chew toys. Many of these can be helpful but beware some dental chews - in overweight pets, the advantage gained from a dental chew for the teeth is likely to be far outweighed by the large calorific value.
Contact us to book a free Nurse dental check up. We are also offering 10% off all dental procedures booked in September and October.