A high percentage of domestic dogs and cats are diagnosed every year with periodontal disease and a vast number of these cases are under 3 years old.
But what does that actually mean for your pet and what can you do about it? We talk about why it’s important to keep your pet’s teeth healthy. And we share our advice on how to do so.
The trouble with dental disease is that you won’t necessarily know there is a problem until it is quite advanced. It’s important to keep a close eye on the health of your pet’s mouth and be observant of any physical symptoms which your pet may display.
Dental Disease in Dogs and Cats
Periodontal disease can cause many health problems and issues for your pet. These include chronic pain, tooth loss and even organ damage.
Organ damage can occur from the toxins that bacteria in the mouth secrete. These toxins can track through the system via the blood stream, causing problems within the delicate tissues of the heart, kidneys and brain. Periodontal disease can adversely affect your pet’s health systemically and isn’t limited to the mouth.
Symptoms of Dental Disease In Dogs And Cats
Signs of periodontal disease to watch out for, include:
- Excessively rubbing the mouth with paws or on the floor, furniture etc.
- Halitosis (Bad Breath).
- Reluctance to eat or fussy food behaviour.
- Yowling or growling when chewing.
- Excess salivation.
- Bleeding from the mouth.
- Red, inflamed gums.
- Chewing to one side of the mouth only, some animals may tilt their heads when chewing.
- Weight loss.
- Dropping food from the mouth when eating.
- Head shyness, not wanting the head or face to be touched.
How Can I Prevent Dental Disease For My Pet?
The best treatment for periodontal disease is prevention. Having a solid dental routine in place to start with, will not only help to preserve the overall health of your pet but will save you money and save you from stress. Dental procedures can be costly and, as with all anaesthetic procedures, do not come without risk.
- Be aware that some animal foods on the market consist of high amounts of sugar to make them more palatable and desirable for pets. These types of diets can also cause obesity. Never assume that a food is good for your pet because of the ingredients they claim to include or because your pet loves eating it. Talking to your veterinary nurse can help you decide on the best diets available for your pet and assist you to make an informed decision.
- Introduce dental care into your pets routine. This can include tooth brushing (with specially designed toothbrushes) and animal specific toothpaste (never use human toothpaste on an animal). It can take some time for a pet to get used to tooth brushing, especially when they are older and more set in their ways. But it’s not impossible and a Veterinary Nurse can assist you with the correct technique.
- You can incorporate dental chews and specially designed dental prescription food into your pet’s diet which will help to keep plaque build up to a minimum. Always talk to your veterinarian about the food products you wish to introduce as some are more effective than others.
- Some Veterinary Practices hold dental clinics with their Veterinary Nurses. Attending these regularly at least once every 6 months or so will help with identifying any dental issues before they become far advanced.
Do You Need Assistance At Home?
You can also contact Pet Nursing and book a nurse clinic with us if you would like assistance with home dental cleaning.
Animal Dental Procedures
If your pet is already showing signs of tartar build up and symptoms of periodontal disease, then a professional dental procedure carried out by a Veterinarian is usually the only way to get the problem back under control.
The procedure and tools used are very similar, if not identical, to our own dental procedures carried out by dentists. However, a sedation or general anaesthetic is required to allow a thorough job to be completed. Unfortunately we cannot tell an animal to keep still with their mouth open!
A veterinarian will perform a thorough examination, scale and polish the teeth and extract any teeth which cannot be saved. They may run a blood profile beforehand to give them an idea of the pet’s overall health . They can help to support the animal’s system with the use of intravenous fluids. And, depending on the severity of the disease, your Vet may prescribe antibiotics and pain medication both before and after the procedure has been carried out.
Your own veterinary practice will have a protocol in place. You can discuss this with them and decide on the best course of action for your pet.
Following Your Pet’s Dental Procedure
Fortunately, animals do surprisingly well even with no teeth left! I, myself, owned a cat who lost all of his teeth due to a medical condition. He did just fine with food, even eating biscuits with the same ferocity that he did beforehand. In fact, he gained a healthy amount of weight in the months following his dental procedure, since he was able to eat without it causing him pain.
Once a professional dental has been performed, you can begin to introduce dental care into your pet’s daily routine. This will help to prevent the need for future dental procedures. A dental routine can be worked out and discussed with your vet or veterinary nurse.