Would you ever want to see your pets experience any painful or serious disease? The overwhelming answer would be a simple NO. However, dental disease in our pets is one of the most underestimated causes of pain and discomfort, which can lead to a few missing teeth or more serious conditions! Amazingly dental disease is estimated to be present in 80% of dogs and cats over three years of age! What are the chances your pet is in that 80%?

Imagine having a toothache when you were once little; the pain is almost identical to what your pets are exposed to on a day-to-day basis, but unlike us, they are a little more stoical about it and often continue to eat and drink normally. Making it hard for us pet parents to know anything is wrong!

Genetics play a role in the disease, but it is mainly caused by a lack of mechanical action on the teeth. This allows bacteria to stick to the teeth and form plaque and then calculus.

Common symptoms

So how do we ‘know’? The following is a list of things us vets look for;

  • Bleeding or inflamed gums
  • Brown or yellow discolouration over the teeth (tartar)
  • Extremely loose or missing teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Blood tinged (unusual) or excessive saliva/drooling
  • Pus around the teeth
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth over the other
  • Not playing with toys like they used to e.g. tug toys

Some breeds are more predisposed to dental disease, with those with flatter faces such as Frenches, bulldogs and pugs, as well as those with smaller jaws, such as the small fluffy type breeds like miniatures and terriers, more commonly and severely affected. Though, the disease is preventable, or its severity reduce through things like the brushing of teeth (where tolerated!), specialist dental diets or at a minimum an exclusively dry food diet.

Treatment options

Whilst the above is good at prevention, professional dental cleaning/ treatments are generally required, and in some cases they will need to be performed as frequently as every 6-12 months – though that depends on the pet, with many pets needing them at least every 1-2 years. This level of care should hopefully avoid the loss or necessary extraction of many teeth as the pets age, as well as reduce the risk of complicating disease. Poor oral health can have a knock on impact on the heart and kidneys with serious implications, so prevention really is better than cure!

As pet owners, we can prevent our lovely pets from getting dental disease, and the condition can be treated and reversed – if detected early. When it comes to your pet’s oral health, regular visits to the vet clinic can ensure your pets smile lasts for years to come! Visit us for a dental check and chat about the best plan for your pet.