This month our nurses are talking all things teeth and how to care for your pets teeth.
There are many ways in which to help your pets teeth stay clean, such as choosing raw meaty bones as part of their diet for your pet to chew on, but teeth brushing still remains one of the best ways in which to help your pets teeth stay clean and fresh. So if your dog or cat can tolerate it, then they can be trained to have their teeth brushed on a regular basis and many people who adopt this as part of their pets daily (or weekly!) routine say it gets much easier as time goes by.
We asked Stacey, one of our registered veterinary nurses, to give her top tips and steps to take when looking out for your pets dental care and how you can introduce brushing as part of their routine.
” How can I tell if my pet has a dental problem?
Bad breath is often the first indicator of dental disease. Gently lift the lips and check for tartar, inflamed gums, or missing/broken teeth on your pets teeth.
Some cats may exhibit drooling, but both cats and dogs can exhibit reluctance to eat or play with toys, “chattering” of the teeth when trying to eat, lethargy, bleeding gums, and failing to groom (cats). It can be very painful if the gums are inflamed which is why you may notice some of these symptoms.
Dental disease usually progresses in stages and if caught early, you can prevent further damage and save as many teeth as possible.
Steps to help care for those tricky teeth:
Step 1 Have your vet or veterinary nurse thoroughly exam your pet’s mouth, teeth, gums and oral cavity. We may recommend professional cleaning if necessary, or your vet may recommend light sedation if your pet’s mouth is difficult to examine thoroughly and other symptoms, such as those above, suggest there is a problem
Step 2 Ask your nurse for a demonstration for the best technique on teeth brushing as part of your pet’s routine. We can give advice on various sized tooth brushes and pastes to help with pet’s individual tastes if your pet is not in need of a professional clean. Starting a home dental program while your pet is young is the best bet for good dental health long term.
Step 3 We can advise on the best equipment you’ll need to get started, including the best pet toothpaste choices on the market. Do not use human toothpaste! Besides not being tasty for pets, human toothpaste has a frothing agent and is meant to be rinsed out, not swallowed, so this could upset your pets digestive system.
Many pet toothpastes are enzymatic, offering greater cleansing action on food debris and plaque and can be swallowed (do not need to be rinsed out). Most pets prefer meat-flavoured toothpastes, such as beef and chicken over the mint flavours. Start with a small sample first, if possible to find a flavour your pet likes and agrees with.
Be sure to select a brush size that is appropriate for your pet’s mouth with soft bristles. If this will not work for your pet, consider a finger-tip “brush,” a tissue or cloth or, as a last resort, a mouth spray or gel (for animals who cannot tolerate anything in their mouth).
Step 4 If you are unsure of your pet’s reaction, go slowly. Start with a small amount of toothpaste—let your pet smell and taste it, praising and encouraging your pet.
Add the brush once you feel comfortable and your pet knows what to expect. Brush gently, stroking from the gums downward.
Daily brushing like humans is recommended and great if your pet likes the process, but realistically twice weekly is great and is going along way to help prevent dental disease.
How is the rest of the body affected by bad teeth?
Infected gums and teeth aren’t just a problem in the mouth — the heart, kidneys, intestinal tract, and joints may also be infected over time if we don’t resolve any dental problems. The tartar and any infected areas of the mouth contain a multitude of bacteria than can transfer to other parts of the body as the gums become inflamed and start to bleed. This becomes a direct route in to your pet’s blood stream and therefore other major organs can be subsequently affected. With regular dental care, you can prevent some of these more serious side effects.”
This month we are offering free nurse health checks to help keep your pets teeth healthy. Just mention that you have read our blog here and book in over the phone for a healthy smile month check up!
To book contact our team at Cookridge on 0113 267 8419 or at Greengates on 01274 610627.