Pet dental diseases are a common problem for many pets, so pet charity, PDSA are raising awareness of pet dental care during National Smile Month.
National Smile Month takes place from 14 May to 14 June and it’s vital that pet owners ensure their pets pearly whites are kept nice and clean.
Dental problems can be more obvious in older animals, but can start early with four out of five dogs having serious gum disease by the age of three. There are some simple, precautionary measures that can be taken to avoid the development of serious and painful dental diseases.
The best way to prevent plaque from building up is to brush cats’ and dogs’ teeth every day. If this is introduced in the right way, ideally when they are kitten and puppies, it will become part of their normal routine.
PDSA Vet, Olivia Anderson-Nathan, says: “Dental disease causes pain and can be linked to other health problems. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the best way to prevent dental disease and ideally should be done daily. He process is usually easier to introduce during the first few months of a pet’s life, but older dogs and cats can be taught too.”
If allowed to progress, dental disease will damage the gums and eventually affected teeth may become loose and prone to infection. Long standing infections in the mouth can even transfer into the blood and cause other problems around the body, including in the kidneys and heart.
PDSA have highlighted some tips to help pet owners:
- Get your pet used to the taste of pet toothpaste by letting them lick a small amount from the end of your finger. It doesn’t have fluoride like human toothpaste so can be safely swallowed.
- Get them used to the idea of touching around their mouth and gums by starting to gently touch their face, giving positive praise as a reward. Then carry on lifting their lips and gently pulling them back so you can look at all of their teeth.
- To get them ready to accept a toothbrush, it’s a good idea to start by gently rubbing a soft cloth along their outer gums and teeth – this gets them used to the idea of having something in their mouth.
- Apply toothpaste to your finger and rub along the outer gums and teeth, gradually progressing to a toothbrush. Do this a few times a week and build up to daily brushing.
Feeding specially formulated dental diets, using special toys to help with tooth cleaning when playing with your pet, offering dental chews and avoiding sticky, sweet foods can also help slow the development of dental disease.