Don’t Forget about their Teeth; a guide to oral health care for your dog or cat

Dental care is an important aspect of our pets’ health, but it is often overlooked.  Here is a brief outline of periodontal disease and why it is worthwhile preventing it.

What is periodontal disease?

  • Periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that affects the hard and soft structures that support the teethdownload (1)
  • It begins as a buildup of plaque (bacteria + food) on the teeth which, if not removed regularly will harden into tartar
  • When tartar spreads down below the gum line, the associated bacteria cause the body to react with inflammation, and this is knows as “gingivitis” (red, swollen gums)
  • Gingivitis can lead to erosion of the gums and bone that supports the teeth, and can cause teeth to loosen and fall out


Some quick facts:

* Periodontal disease is the most common disease in dogs and cats

– By the age of three, most dogs and cats have evidence of some form of periodontal disease

– Periodontal disease can be painful and affect your pet’s quality of life as he/she may no longer enjoy eating and playing with toys

* The inflammatory nature of periodontal disease can lead to problems beyond just the mouth, specifically: respiratory problems, heart disease, kidney and liver disease, and more


But what can I do?

  • Periodontal disease can easily be prevented through brushing your pet’s teeth three times weekly, using a soft bristled toothbrush with a pet-specific toothpastedog-smile-2-1
  • Appropriate chew toys can help to reduce the buildup of plaque on a dog’s teeth e.g. rawhide, cotton ropes
  • Some special pet foods are designed to brush away plaque and also inhibit the build up of harmful bacteria
  • Special supplements and water additives work to minimize the buildup of harmful bacteria which leads to plaque and tartar


*  If there is already a build-up of tartar on your pet’s teeth, this can be removed under anaesthesia at your veterinarian’s office

So when it comes to looking after your canine or feline friend, don’t forget about their teeth!

Heather - July 2014

This article was written by Heather Cole Brownlow, Assistant Manager and Veterinary Technician for the GTHS.

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