Dental disease is incredibly common in cats and dogs, and the problem increases dramatically as our pets age. This is hardly surprising when you consider that most adult people have a number of fillings, and it is very rare for a person over 60 not to have lost some if not all of their teeth.
Imagine how much worse this would be if we were not able to brush our teeth every day! Sadly, dental problems in pets are often overlooked as owners rarely get the opportunity to look in their pets mouths.
Also our pets are very good at “putting up” with any pain or infection. We could compare the mouth pain our pets experience to us having constant dull toothache! Most of us would get that dealt with as soon as possible. We should try and do the same for our pets.
Sometimes owners may notice signs of a problem, e.g. a bad smell from the mouth, dribbling, or a swelling on the face caused by an abscess. However, most often dental problems are noticed at the time of a routine veterinary check up (another reason why an annual health check is so valuable).
When a vet recommends dentistry it is usually to remove damaged or infected teeth which are causing discomfort. Generally there is little value in just removing dental tartar
Dental operations are time consuming and skilled procedures. If an operation is appropriate for your pet, the vet will discuss the details thoroughly with you beforehand.
Cats and dogs cope extremely well following tooth removal as the foods they are fed are gulped down with a minimum of chewing. Even dry foods tend to be swallowed whole.
In fact pet owners invariably say how much better overall their pets are after dentistry, reflecting the fact that they are no longer dragged down by discomfort and infection.
Clients often ask how best to keep their pets teeth in good condition. Ideally every dog and cat should have its teeth brushed daily using a special veterinary toothbrush and paste. Although a great idea, very few clients have a sufficiently compliant pet to make this practical!
Other measures that may help include special diets, chews, mouthwashes and gels although none of these provide a complete solution to the problem.
If you are concerned that your pet may have a dental problem, please contact the surgery for an appointment with one of our vets.
Alternatively if you don’t think there is a problem but you would like your pet’s mouth checked just to be sure, you can ring and book a nurses appointment. Our nurses will gladly perform a free dental assessment, and be able to discuss the teeth cleaning measures mentioned above.