Pets Have Teeth Too!
Imagine how your teeth would look and feel if you didn't brush everyday. Imagine what they would be like if you never brushed them. Your pet's teeth are the same as yours and need regular dental care.
The most common disease in pet animals is periodontal (gum) disease. It affects at least 90% of dogs over the age of 5 years. Periodontal disease is the result of bacterial infection of the gums and the supporting tissues of the teeth. Eventually teeth fall out. Bacteria is carried throughout the body by a large network of blood vessels near gums and teeth.
Periodontal disease can lead to heart, liver and kidney disease. With the immune system constantly challenged by bacteria from the mouth, it is less able to respond to other infections. Mouths with periodontal disease are painful so animals do not chew their food as well and do not digest it properly. The overall effect is that the quality and quantity of life suffer dramatically.
WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT DENTAL DISEASE
HAVE A LOOK
The first step is to look in your pet's mouth. If the gums are red or inflamed, if there is a foul odour, if there is pus at the gum line, or if you see loose or broken teeth, arrange to have your veterinarian do an oral examination as soon as possible. The problem will be assessed and a treatment plan formulated. This will usually involve a professional cleaning and polishing of the teeth and may include extraction of teeth that cannot be saved. Once the teeth are clean you can start home-care to prevent further plaque and tartar accumulation.
Without good home-care, many pets would need a general anesthetic and professional cleaning every six months to one year, whereas with good home care this interval can be doubled or tripled or more.
Brushing your pet's teeth is the main component of home-care. The goal is to remove plaque before it becomes tartar. Plaque is an invisible film of bacteria, saliva and food particles which adheres to the teeth. Left undisturbed, plaque collects minerals from the saliva to form the rock-like brown deposits known as tartar or calculus. By brushing daily, you remove plaque and so tartar builds up slower. Brushing will not remove tartar that has already developed.
GUIDELINES FOR BRUSHING TEETH
If there is no way you can brush or clean your pet's teeth, the next best home-care treatment is an oral spray (or gel) that is an antiplaque agent. This will reduce the bacteria level along the gums and thus reduce the amount of plaque and tartar. If you are not able to do anything, you should have your pet's teeth professionally cleaned and polished every 6 to 12 months as needed. It will be needed if either visible tartar or redness of the gums develops.
Diet can be a factor in the development of periodontal disease. Soft or sticky foods can cling to the surface of teeth and promote plaque formation. Feeding dry food will help reduce the amount of plaque and tartar but it will by no means eliminate it. Raw vegetables, rawhides, and other chew things that have a massaging action on the gums will be helpful in controlling plaque.
Do not feed real bones or cow hooves. These are so hard that they can break teeth.
THE 3 STEPS OF PREVENTATIVE DENTAL CARE FOR PETS
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Apr 17, 2012
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