Time to read: 4 mins
Guide to good dental hygiene for dogs and cats
Dental Care in Dogs and Cats
Just like our own teeth, our pet’s teeth can develop a build-up of plaque which, if left untreated, can become tartar – a hard substance made up of bad bacteria. This build up on the teeth will eventually cause gingivitis. You will know your pet has gingivitis if they have red, swollen gums that can sometimes bleed and may have a bad odour from their mouths. This is usually diagnosed by a vet. If your pet has gingivitis this may mean bacteria can travel through the blood stream and, in extreme cases, has been known to cause heart and kidney problems. Keeping your pets mouth clean is all part of being a responsible pet owner.
The following are signs there may be a problem with your pet’s mouth:
- Smelly breath
- Reduced appetite and weight loss
- Red or swollen gums
- Bleeding gums
- Yellow crusty build up on the teeth
- Dropping food from the side of the mouth
- Excessive drooling
As with most things prevention is better than cure and this is no exception. If possible, you should brush your pet’s teeth regularly. As a rule, dogs seem to tolerate this more readily than cats but once your pet is used to the process it is much easier than you think. Make sure you are using an animal friendly toothpaste as human toothpaste is toxic to dog and cats. It might be easier to start off with a finger brush and build up to a toothbrush as your pet becomes more used to it. Providing your pet with natural chews and toys that have been designed to improve dental health will also help control plaque and tartar build up. Changing your pet’s diet to a dry kibble will also help in the fight against dental disease. Tinned meat and pouches of pet food contribute to plaque build-up so adding in dry food or changing over to a complete dry diet will help a great deal.
There are lots of products on the market to help you look after your pet’s mouth, from additives for their water and food to prescription diets specifically for dental care.
At some point in your pet’s life they may need to undergo a general anaesthetic for a dental procedure and although this may be worrying for you it is all part of looking after your furry friend’s health. A healthy pet starts with healthy teeth and gums! Find out more about how insurance can help to cover your pet’s dental treatment costs.
For more information or just to speak to one of our RCVS registered Veterinary Nurses, please call the Scratch & Patch Careline – 0333 332 1926
We’re here 24/7/365 to assist with any of your pet related questions or queries.