February is Pet Dental Month - How is your pet’s smile?
Did you know that February is Pet Dental Month? It’s a great time to check-in with your pet and make sure that you’re doing everything you can to keep their teeth and mouth in tip-top condition.
According to the The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) 80% percent of dogs and 70% percent of cats have some kind of oral disease by the time they are three and it is one of the most common problems faced by our furry friends.
Brown dog photo by Brian Brxtn on Unsplash
Why is it important to look after your pet’s teeth?
You may think that having clean teeth is just a cosmetic thing, but if you neglect your pet’s oral health you can seriously impact their quality of life, causing chronic pain issues which may also cause behavioural problems too.
If left untreated, the bacteria generated by gum disease could eventually enter your pet's bloodstream and potentially damage their heart liver or kidneys. Plus if they are unable to eat properly this can affect their metabolism and cause negative knock-on effects too.
Dogs use their mouths for way more than eating. They use them to explore, play and pick up things that they need, so it’s important that you keep them healthy or they may feel like their right arm has been cut off too!
Happy cat photo by Yerlin Matu on Unsplash
Prevention of gum disease in pets
So what can you do to keep your pets mouth in good condition? The best way – as with humans – is to brush regularly, but unfortunately only around 1% of pet owners actually do it every day!
If you’re going to brush your dog’s teeth, choose a soft-bristled brush and be patient. It’s best to start young to that they get used to the routine, but if you missed that opportunity, start slowly and build it up gradually over a few weeks so that they become used to the process.
If they’re not used to a brush, start off by rubbing a soft cloth along their teeth and gums and work up to using a brush.
Make it fun, with lots of praise and use a toothpaste that is formulated specially for pets as some human ones may actually be toxic.
Ahh cat photo by Pixabay on Pexels
You may find it harder to brush your cat’s teeth. If they have gum disease and need attention then you are probably better off taking them to a vet for regular cleaning and putting them on a diet t improve and promote their oral health.
Dogs can also benefit from chew toys and dental chews which are specifically designed to clean their teeth or stimulate their gums. If you’re feeding them edible dental chews make sure you follow the guidelines on the packet and don’t feed too many as this could cause them to gain weight.
Prevention is always better than cure, so try cutting out any sugary treats in your pet’s diet. Don't give them any ‘human food’ if you can help it and check the label on their food to ensure you are giving them good quality, nutritionally balanced meals.
Dog brush photo by Matthias Zomer on Pexels
How to spot dental problems in your pet
Look out for the warning signs of gum disease such as bad breath, red and swollen gums, yellow-brown crusts of tartar along the gum lines, and bleeding or pain when you touch the gums or mouth. Your pet may be pawing at their face, drool or by unwilling to eat crunchy foods.
If your pet has any of the following:
- Smelly breath (Pet’s breath naturally smells a little anyway, but you should be able to tell if it smells different or rotten).
- Difficulty eating their food or a reluctance to eat hard or crunchy food
- Changes in behaviour
- Weight loss
- Pain or rubbing at the mouth
- Excess drooling or salivating
- Redness or bleeding around the gums
Or if you’re not sure what to do about your pet’s oral health issues, then it’s best to get them to the vet for a check up. They may suggest that your pet has a thorough dental examination under general anaesthetic, in order to perform tasks that your own dentist may perform on you – such as a scale and polish to remove tartar build up - or a tooth extraction. They will also be able suggest a suitable regime of preventative dental care treatment too.
Staffy teeth Photo by Cierra Voelkl on Unsplash
Of course you should be keeping an eye on your pets health all year round but we hope that the fact that it is dental health month this month, will get you thinking about what you can do to make sure they are healthy and comfortable and you can enjoy many more happy years together.
Main photo by Serena Koi on Pexels