Pet dental care tips

Posted by Argos. May 29th 2014.

Without doubt, we love our pets. We pamper them, look after them, shower them with gifts… and they breathe on us, making us feel sick.

Dog teeth

How do pets get dental disease?

Unfortunately many pets over the age of three suffer with dental disease. Dental disease is perhaps one of the most common preventable health problems seen in our pets. It leads to smelly breath, bleeding gums, difficulty in eating, mouth abscesses, illness and pain. In its extreme the bacteria can enter the bloodstream causing heart issues. That’s not to mention very unsightly teeth, and the expense involved when treatment is required. It’s not cute and it’s not cool.

Pesky bacteria is present in its thousands in the mouth and it is these beastly bugs causing disruption. Hanging out at the gum line (where the tooth meets the gum) is the ‘in place’ for them and they multiple continuously – it’s the biggest party in town in there! The first signs you’ll notice is a red line above the tooth on the gum line. The onset of gum inflammation (gingivitis) and bad breath (halitosis) quickly joins, followed by plaque building up on the enamel. It doesn’t stop there; the brown/yellow staining starts the foundation for the big chunky tartar or calculus boys, which are next on the list to arrive. These bad boys can end up making the gum recess, and the tooth wobble or fall out. If they’re really annoyed they’ll give our pets an abscess, pain or heart disease as well, just to make their point.

Why you must get the bacteria out

There are lots of ways to do this and it will vary depending on your pet and lifestyle. Please discuss this with you veterinary professional, if you are an Argos Pet Insurance customer please discuss this with your Argos Vetfone nurse. The key is not to do nothing! Look at your lifestyle and what is reasonable and practical. Be honest; what are you prepared to do consistently to make a difference? Brushing is by far the best way (every day, just as we do!). It’s the gold standard. Can you imagine how we would look and smell if we didn’t brush our teeth?!

Don’t use human toothpaste though. Pets don’t really like the mint effect, plus the fluoride in it is too high, causing upset tummies (they can’t spit in the sink as we do). Chewing (dental chews and toys) is the next best option, or using enzymatic gels. Mouthwashes and water additives are another good option – these are very hands-off, brilliant if you have a particular grumpy pet. Dried food trumps wet food because wet food sticks to the teeth like superglue and is perfect fodder for those bacteria. The mechanical action of the dried food also helps clean the teeth. You can up the game even further by using prescription dental diets.

Take a browse through the products available to you and arm yourself with your standard and what you’re setting out to achieve so can choose wisely. Use one or a combination of methods – just choose the ones that suit you and your pets.

A helpful guide to brushing your pet’s teeth

  • Have everything ready and to hand. Push the toothpaste or gel into the bristles of the toothbrush, otherwise it falls off or is flicked everywhere but inside the mouth.
  • Approach from the side, and hold the muzzle with one hand, using the thumb to lift the jowl out of the way.
  • Slide the toothbrush in and begin brushing in a circular motion ensuring all teeth and the gum line are brushed.
  • Repeat on the other side.
  • Brush the incisors last. This tickles, and quite often pets will react to these been brushed, so it’s best to leave these until the end so you have a fighting chance of brushing the rest! Approach from the front using one hand to hold the muzzle and using the thumb to lift it up the lip. Again, brush in circular motions over the teeth and gum line.

You don’t have to open your pet’s mouth as if they need to say ahh, and you don’t have to worry about brushing the insides of the teeth. The saliva coupled with the tongue action is enough to keep the insides of the teeth relatively clean.

Be a cool and responsible owner and brush your pet’s teeth regularly!

Annaliese Morgan DipAVN (Surgical) RVN MBVNA

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