Just like humans, our pets are vulnerable to gum disease and problems with their teeth. Alarmingly, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats suffer from some form of dental disease by the age of three.
Oral disease can cause pain that affects the quality of the animal’s life. Some chronic pain goes unnoticed until the cause is eliminated. Some behavioural changes in eating habits, reluctance to groom and socialise and subtle changes of depression.
Overtime plaque accumulates on the tooth surfaces leading to tartar build up and periodental disease affecting gums, periodontal ligaments and bone. This progressive disease can lead to irreversible damage and tooth loss. In severe cases it can even lead to fractured jaws.
Baceria from periodontal disease can spread through the blood stream and damage internal organs including the heart, liver and kidneys. This has the potential to shorten your pet”s life.
Whenever possible, preventing a disease is better than treating it, and this is true for this condition.
What if my pet has dental disease?
Firstly, you should have your pet’s teeth examined by one of our vets on a regular basis and if necessary, follow up with a professional dental scale and polish.
Treatment for periodontal disease depends on the severity of the condition. Dental scaling and polishing whilst under a general anaesthetic will remove plaque and tartar from the teeth and under the gumline. The scaling is done using a special ultrasonic scaler, just like a dentist uses on our teeth, and then the teeth are polished using a dental polisher and specialised fine-grade paste. Loose and infected teeth will usually be extracted. Depending on the extent of the disease your pet might be recommended blood tests, placed on intravenous fluids through the procedure and prescribed antibiotics and pain relief.
Pets are generally able to go home on the same day.
Following a professional dental clean, a plan needs to be implemented to minimise build up of tartar again, and will depend on the severity of your pet’s dental disease. This may involve regular tooth brushing, feeding raw meaty bones and/or a special teeth cleaning diet. It is recommended that all pets be examined 6 months after dental cleaning to determine the effectiveness of your dental care routine.
How can I minimise ongoing dental disease?
Long-term control and prevention of dental disease requires regular home care. The best way to begin this is to acclimatise your pet from a young age. Dental home care may include:
- Brushing teeth daily – just like us! This is the best form of dental hygiene. Pet toothbrushes and toothpaste are now available. Please do not use human toothpaste formulas as they are not designed to be swallowed and may be toxic to your pet. Animal tooth pastes come in a range of flavours.
- Feed pets raw meaty bones or special dental diets. This can help reduce the accumulation of tartar.
- Use dental toys, enzymatic chews, or teeth cleaning biscuits, all of which may help keep the teeth clean.
Regular and frequent attention to your pet’s teeth may avoid the need for a professional dental clean under anaesthetic, and will also improve your pet’s overall health.
If you have questions about dental care or professional cleaning please do not hesitate to contact us at any of our Townsville clinics.