Pet Dental Month- the importance of good oral health in animals

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February is Pet Dental Month, a time for all pet owners to ask themselves: ‘Does my pet have good oral health?’ If you’ve never considered how important good oral health is in animals, don’t worry- you’re not alone. It’s estimated that up to 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease and most owners have no idea how it can affect their beloved pets, or even how to tell if their animal has bad oral hygiene. Unless the owner takes specific steps to examine their pet’s teeth, they’ll never know what condition they are in and will only take action when the issue becomes noticeable- and by then it’s often too late to solve the problem.

So, what problems can arise from poor oral health in animals? Well, just like humans, plaque tends to build up on the animal’s teeth, which if left untreated can lead to an accumulation of tartar- a hard brown substance that gathers between the teeth and gums. A large concentration of tartar can lead to periodontal disease, bacterial infection and diseased teeth. When bacteria gathers around infected teeth it can enter directly into the bloodstream, spreading throughout the animal’s body and contributing to life-threatening diseases such as kidney, heart and brain disease.

If you’re currently fearing for your pet’s life, don’t worry! It’s so simple to keep your pet’s teeth clean and healthy with a combination of active and passive teeth cleaning. Active homecare involves physically brushing your pet’s teeth with a specific pet toothpaste. For large and medium-sized dogs, an adult toothbrush is recommended, whereas with smaller dogs a child-sized toothbrush is optimal- cats should have their teeth brushed with a finger pad or specialised cat toothbrush. Brushing sessions should be kept short, no longer than two minutes, and your pet should be rewarded for letting you scrub their teeth with a bristly brush! Active teeth cleaning is most effective on the front teeth (the canines and incisors) so don’t worry if you can’t reach the back teeth, just focus on the front.

Passive homecare consists of offering your pet a daily dental chew- these products are designed to remove the build-up of plaque through the abrasive action of the chew against the surface of the tooth. These dental chews are most effective at cleaning the back teeth, so that’s why using a combination of passive and active teeth cleaning will ensure that all of your pet’s teeth remain clean. Just make sure that you use products that are specifically designed for cleaning teeth, such as compressed wheat and cellulose chews incorporated into treats or rawhide chews, as these will provide the best results and improve your pet’s health significantly.

Although we’ve mostly focused on cats and dogs in this blog, it’s important to mention that ALL animals need good oral health- so take the time to research your pet’s specific dental needs, as oral diseases affect every animal.

Here at Strand on the Green Dental Practice, we care about human teeth too! Don’t hesitate to book an appointment with us if you have any dental issues- simply give us a call on 020 8995 0298.


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