Bitesize guide to protecting pets’ teeth

We’re giving pet owners advice on how to look after their animals’ dental health as part of an awareness campaign from January to March 2019.

We’re urging people to be vigilant when looking after their pet’s pearly whites, as dental disease among cats, dogs and rabbits is one of the most common problems dealt with at its three branches.

As part of our awareness campaign, we’re offering free dental health checks with a vet nurse at all of its practices from January until March 31, during which nurses will examine pets’ mouths and give advice, if needed, on what treatment may be appropriate.

Dr Kevin Wood, our clinical director, said the aim of the campaign was to encourage pet owners to be aware of the risks faced by animals and to prevent issues going forward.

Dr Wood said: “Unfortunately, dental disease is extremely common in pets due to a combination of dietary and genetic factors. If we didn’t follow our dentist’s advice and look after our teeth by brushing twice a day, think what our mouths and teeth would be like – pets are no different.

“Without daily brushing, plaque can build up on animals’ teeth and this contains a complex film of bacteria which cannot always be seen by the naked eye but can be damaging to gums and roots.

“If plaque isn’t removed it can build up and become calcified. The brown substance which can be seen on the teeth of cats and dogs is tartar, which can allow more bacteria to grow and cause more damage if left untreated.

“This can eventually lead to toothache, gingivitis (gum infection) and tooth loss. All these conditions can be very painful and you may see your pet having difficulties eating.

“Regular proactive dental care can help prevent oral health issues. Daily brushing with pet-friendly toothpaste will help reduce the build-up of plaque and there are also a number of prescription dental diets which can be used to help prevent plaque build-up and keep teeth clean.

“For cats and dogs where tartar is already present, a scale and polish under a general anaesthetic is needed to remove the build-up.”

Dr Wood also warned dog owners of potential dangers to their pet from chewing on what may seem an innocuous object, such as a tennis ball.

Dr Wood said: “Without sounding like a killjoy, tennis balls are not best friends to our dogs’ teeth. The tennis ball fibres collect sand, dirt and grit which can be very abrasive and, along with the tennis ball fibres themselves, they can wear teeth down so the root is left exposed.

“When choosing a ball for your dog to play with, it’s best to choose a soft or rubber ball. It’s also important not to let your dog or cat chew and play with hard or brittle items which could cause painful fractures to their teeth.”

To find out more the dental health campaign search for us on Facebook.