Dental disease is the number one health issue seen in dogs and cats. It affects four out of five pets by the time they turn two and can lead to early tooth loss.
After every meal a layer of invisible plaque develops on teeth. Over time this becomes hard tartar which is the yellow/ brown straining you can see on affected teeth. If not removed, this tartar causes gingivitis, which is a painful red inflammation of the gums. Tartar also provides an ideal environment for bacteria to grow destroying the structures holding the teeth in place. If left untreated, bacterial infection can spread into the bloodstream causing heart, kidney and liver problems.
Small breed dogs are especially prone to dental disease as their mouths are overcrowded making it more likely for food to get trapped and difficult to clean.
Signs that your pet may have dental disease include bad breath, dribbling saliva, brown tartar, red/ bleeding gums, difficulty eating and subdued behaviour due to a sore mouth.
A dental examination is included in your pet’s annual health check where the teeth are assessed and given a score from 0 to 4. A pet with perfect teeth gets a 0 whereas a 4 represents severe dental disease that will likely need extensive dental work and extractions.
Dental disease is entirely preventable and treatable! There are number options available to help diagnose and treat dental disease. A variety of products are available to help maintain dental health including dental diets, dental chew toys and pet toothbrushes.
Check your pet’s mouth today and set your furry friend on the road to dental health and wellness. A healthy mouth is vital to having a healthy pet!
Anne Shilston: BVSc