Did You Know?

As many as 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease by the age of two or three years old.  Left untreated this can lead to more severe dental disease and result in significant pain and health complications for your pet. Periodontal disease in cats, and periodontal disease in dogs is one of the pillars of health management for our furry family members (and the human kind too).

Why do our pets develop dental disease?

Some breeds have a genetic predisposition for dental disease. Some of our smaller breeds and our brachycephalic breeds have been bred to have smaller and more squishy faces. This results in the same number of teeth pushed into a smaller or shorter mouth and can result in a condition called malocclusion. This is where the teeth are not aligned properly. 

Some breeds are genetically predisposed to having porous dental enamel. Enamel is the protective layer of the teeth. When this is more porous it means the teeth are more susceptible to tartar and calculus, and eventually infection and decay. 

Our pets are not brushing their teeth daily like us humans do. Imagine what trouble our teeth would be in if we did not brush them! Even with doing that we still need to see a dentist for check-ups for routine cleaning, and despite humans having relatively high level of dental hygiene, many people still need additional treatment and dental surgery.  When you consider it this way it is no surprise that our pets need close attention to their dental health as well.

 Why would my pet need a dental procedure?

As dental disease progresses a dental procedure may be necessary for your pet. Tartar build-up and tooth infection can easily get to a stage where ultrasonic cleaning and dental surgery is needed.

Unlike humans, animals require a general anaesthetic for a professional and safe procedure. When we recommend a dental scale and polish, dental prophylaxis, or more complex procedures like dental extractions, our highly trained and caring pet healthcare team are here to offer your pet the care they deserve.

What home care can I use to prevent or slow down dental disease?

We have several home care options in our tool kit to help prevent and slow down dental disease in our pets.

Brushing: It may sound strange to brush your cat or dog’s teeth, but this is not only the ‘gold standard’ for dental care but is the cheapest and most effective option. There are many dental toothbrush varieties on the market along with different designs and dental pastes. Finger brushes can be useful to start with as you and your pet learn. 

It is important to note that cats and dogs cannot use fluoride (human) toothpaste and a specific pet dental paste needs to be selected.

Our pets need to be trained to accept having their teeth brushed and starting at a young age is ideal, though training can commence at any age, as long as it is safe for you and your pet to do so.  Starting as a puppy or kitten is ideal, and gradually developing a system is important for the best successful outcomes. 

Here are some steps to help you brush your pet’s teeth:

Cats and small dogs may feel more comfortable if they can sit on their owner’s lap while having their teeth brushed.

  • Begin slowly.
  • Initial sessions should be brief – around 30 seconds to a minute, with lots of rewards!] Make sure you choose a reward worthy to encourage this new skill set
  • Get your pet used to the toothbrush/finger brush by dipping it in tuna juice, chicken or beef stock, and let them explore the sensation of sniffing and licking the brush.
  • Next try offering a taste of the pet toothpaste, without brushing. See if they take to the taste without the confrontation of dental brushing.
  • Now try to get your pet use to the combination of the brush with the pet toothpaste without brushing, letting them lick the brush and paste.
  • When your pet is comfortable with the brush try brushing one or two strokes on a few teeth. Slowly increase the amount of brushing as your pet becomes more comfortable. This is expected to take several weeks to build the time they are comfortable with you brushing.
  • Start at the front of the mouth. Pets are often more accepting of this and can help ease them into the new routine.

We are in the process of developing an online video tutorial library for you to follow to show you some tips and methods to follow during dental brushing training. Keep an eye out on our social media to be notified when these become available.

Hills t/d food: The special matrix of fibres of this diet scrubs the tooth to remove plaque which helps freshen breath and whiten teeth. The large kibble size, shape and texture cleans the teeth to the gum line to promote healthy gums and teeth. Hills t/d is a complete and nutritionally balanced diet. 

Oravet chews: Oravet Dental Chews soften and remove dental plaque and calculus, while also creating a barrier against attachment of bacteria to teeth, tongue, and gums. The natural chewing mechanism softens and removes existing plaque and calculus, while releasing a protective agent to prevent future plaque build-up.

Tropiclean water additive: This water additive uses natural ingredients, including green tea leaf extract, to promote good oral health and help eliminate bad breath for up to 12 hours. Simply add it to your pet’s water bowl to help improve their oral health.

Plaque Off: This is a product that you can simply sprinkle on your pet’s food. It contains a specifically selected seaweed called Ascophllum nodosum that acts via the vascular system to prevent dental plaque from forming on the teeth and soften tartar deposits. Most importantly it is reportedly very palatable.

If you would like any further advice, please feel free to talk to one of our friendly team members at Pet Society Vet, who would be happy clarify any questions you may have.