The first step in good teeth hygiene is looking at your pet’s teeth. As with anything, it is better to start young. All new puppy and kitten owners should be getting their new additions used to having their lips lifted and mouths opened, enabling good visualisation of all the teeth. Those with older pets can still accomplish this, it just takes a bit more time and patience. With any animal you want to be starting off slowly and ensuring your pet is calm and relaxed at all times and not struggling. It is good to reward any sort of progress and remember, praise works just as well as treats!
Next is being able to recognise signs of dental and gum disease. As with our own teeth there are a range of things to look out for, some subtler than others. Most pets with some form of dental or gum disease will have smelly breath and this is the easiest thing to look (or smell) out for. Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) can vary from a slight reddening of the gums at the point where gum meets tooth to a more severe angry reddening and also swelling of the gums (this is obviously harder to spot in pets with black gums!). It is also important to look out for plaque and tartar. This can range from a mild brown/grey discoloration of the tooth (usually starting at the gum line) to a more severe tartar build up with thick deposits forming. Back teeth can often have tartar building up and this can be missed when looking at your pets teeth if the lips are not pulled back far enough. Unfortunately our pets will keep eating despite having severe dental and gum disease, so this is an unreliable sign to watch out for!
There are a couple of things that you can do to delay the need for a dental. A simple thing that can be done is feeding your pet at least some dry food in its diet. As your pet eats the dry food the teeth have to work hard to crack into the food and this can help prevent large deposits of tartar forming. Just as we brush our own teeth to keep them clean, the same can be done to our pets. There are special toothbrushes and toothpastes designed to work on pets’ teeth to help keep them clean. Lots of cats don’t tolerate toothbrushing very well but there are a couple of toothpaste like products which can either be rubbed directly on their teeth and gums or put on their paws for them to lick off, helping to maintain tooth health. All these products are sold at the practice and we are happy to discuss the various options with you and work out what is best for you and your pet.
2 Bryn-y-mor Rd, Gowerton,
Swansea, SA4 3EZ
154c Sandy Road,
Llanelli, SA15 4DP