Dental Care

Dental care

Proper dental care is important for all small animals and your pet’s teeth will require regular attention and care to prevent plaque build-up that can lead to problems later on in life. Did you know that dental health problems are the most frequently diagnosed health problems in pets?

Dental plaque should never be underestimated. It’s a film of bacteria that develops on teeth and hardens quickly unless it’s brushed away. Left untreated, plaque will mineralise and turn to tartar and calculus, leading to gum inflammation and infection, receding gums and eventually tooth loss.

And unfortunately, it doesn’t end there. Infected gums and teeth aren’t solely a problem in the mouth. Since the bacteria emanating from the oral cavity can ‘seed’ to other parts of the body, your pet’s joints, intestinal tract, kidneys and heart may also be at risk from infection.

Regular 6 monthly check-ups are essential for both dogs and cats to look after their oral health. Why not contact Vale Vets today to book an appointment for a FREE pet dental care check? Or, if your pet is already on our pet care plan, your free twice yearly health check includes a full dental examination to ensure that your pet’s mouth is healthy.

How to spot the signs and symptoms of dental disease

Our purry pals and canine companions can’t tell us that there’s a problem with their teeth or gums. In fact, animals are experts at hiding pain and not showing any signs of weakness. By the time you hear your pet whimpering or wonder why they’ve lost their appetite, their oral problems may already be far advanced.

Here are the symptoms you should be looking out for:

Dogs Cats
Bad breath Bad breath
Red, swollen or bleeding gums Red, swollen or bleeding gums
Visible tartar on teeth Visible tartar on teeth
Bleeding gums after brushing Bleeding gums after brushing
Dribbling Dribbling
Loss of appetite Loss of appetite
Chewing on one side of the mouth Aversion to hot/cold foods
Leaving broken crumbs after eating Leaving a mess after eating
Swallowing food whole Swallowing food whole
Taking dry food and eating it away from the bowl Vomiting up whole pieces of (dry) food
Loose teeth Loose teeth
Poor grooming
Acting less playful

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How to look after your pet’s teeth at home

While most pets will need some form of dental treatment during their lifetime, with a good, regular dental routine at home, you can make a real difference to the long-term oral health of your cat or dog. There are lots of preventative products available that you can use to reduce the amount of dental work your pet will need as he gets older.

Here are the most important dental health care routines you and your pet should be following:

  • Tooth brushing

Regularly brushing your cat’s or dog’s teeth is the most effective way to remove plaque – ideally teeth should be cleaned every day. Use a special, soft bristled pet dental toothbrush (or finger brush) and a toothpaste with a flavour that’s palatable to your pet and harmless enough so that it can be swallowed. Replace your pet’s toothbrush every 4-6 weeks, and never ever use a toothpaste or other oral health product designed for humans as the ingredients may not be suitable for pets (and they’ll hate the taste!).

At first, your cat or dog will need to get used to having their teeth brushed – they won’t necessarily love having your fingers and toothbrush in their mouth! You’ll need to be patient, gentle and positive and it may take many sessions for your pet to get comfortable with the idea. If you’re struggling, why not ask the team at Vale Vets for tips on how best to tackle this task – or even ask us to give you a quick lesson on cleaning your pet’s teeth?

  • Dental diets and treats

If you are really struggling to clean your pet’s teeth, and your cat or dog is simply not cooperative, tooth friendly foods are another way to manage their dental health. There’s a wide range of specific dental and oral care food products on the market that’s been specially formulated to keep both dogs’ and cats’ teeth and gums as healthy as possible.

These are dry dental health foods that your pet has to crunch. The hard food particles help clean their teeth while the additional saliva needed to chew the biscuits help cleanse bacteria out of the mouth, thus preventing plaque build-up.

Cats, in particular, will be keener on dental care food rather than chewing on dental toys. To find out more about dental diets or require a special prescription diet for your pet, ask the team at Vale Vets for specific advice and to recommend an appropriate product.

  • Dental toys and chews

Dogs, in particular, will be interested in toys that they can chew to their heart’s content, so make sure you choose doggy toys that have the added benefit of protecting their teeth. Ask your vet to recommend suitable toys that are good for your dog’s teeth, as some toys can actually be detrimental to your pet’s oral health.

Dental chews and sticks come in many sizes and flavours – there’s a huge product choice on the market. Individual chews tend to look oversized, which is deliberate since it encourages your dog to actually chew on them rather than swallowing them whole. As ever, consult your vet to recommend the most suitable product for your pet.

How Vale Vets can help

Whether you need advice regarding dental health friendly foods or treats, how to look after your pet’s teeth at home, or your cat or dog requires a regular dental check-up or professional veterinary dental care, Vale Vets are at your service.

Below is an excellent video detailing teeth cleaning for your pet and the main preventative treatments for periodontal disease in cats and dogs.

For professional advice and to book an appointment, call Vale Vets on 0208 679 6969 or book an online appointment.