The organisation of the teeth in dogs and cats is very similar to that of humans. They have a set of baby teeth which are replaced by adult teeth by the time they are six to eight months old. These adult teeth need to last for the rest of the pets life. Like humans, if teeth are not cared for, there is a rapid onset of dental disease with rotten teeth, tooth root abscesses, infected gums, mouth ulcers, pain, bleeding and bad breath. The infection in the mouth can release bacteria into the bloodstream which can result in infection in the heart, liver, lungs, kidneys or joints. Dental disease is a serious health issue.
Signs of dental disease include bad breath, tartar deposits on teeth, swollen and bleeding gums, loose teeth, pus at the gum margins, drooling and difficulty eating. If you are concerned about the state of you animals mouth please contact us for advice.
If there is significant dental disease the animal may need dental treatment under anaesthesia. Of course, it is better to avoid this by preventing the disease in the first place! There are four main techniques for keeping your pets teeth clean, which can all be implemented at the same time.
Brushing. This is absolutely the gold standard of oral hygiene if your pet will tolerate it. It should be done every day. You should use pet toothpaste (NOT human toothpaste) with a very soft toothbrush, soft gauze or even your finger to gently brush the outside of the teeth and gums.
Dental diets such as Hills t/d or Royal Canin Dental. Even given as a proportion of the diet these can be very effective at keeping teeth clean, especially for those hard-to-reach back teeth.
Oral hygiene products such as Maxigard Oral Cleansing Gel. Used daily they can reduce bacteria numbers in the mouth.
Dental chews on a daily basis can also help with oral hygiene but it is important to remember that dental chew bars are never enough on their own. We do NOT recommend bones because they can result in broken teeth and intestinal obstruction.
Dental problems are the most common disease we see in rabbits and chinchillas. Although they are not closely related, they have similar dental organisation, with cheek teeth and incisors that grow all through the animal’s life. If the pet does not get an appropriate diet that wears the teeth down, this constant growth leads to overlong teeth that prevent proper chewing. Sharp spikes can also develop which can cut into the tongue and cheek and cause severe pain, bleeding and infection. Some animals will develop these problems even if they do have an appropriate diet. We recommend regular dental checks. Also look for signs of dental disease – reluctance to eat hard food, eating with only one side of the mouth, excess salivation, swellings around the mouth, or any loss of appetite. It is really important to treat dental problems early to prevent long term incurable problems in these animals.
Ask us for advice!