is Animal Dental Care month
Most of our cats and dogs will have some dental disease in their life time. As for all of us, if we don’t brush our teeth then the sticky white film of food residue and bacteria known as plaque builds up in our teeth. If this is not removed from the teeth brushing or special foods/chews then over time this becomes hardened with calcium deposits and becomes tartar.
This tartar as it builds up will push the gums up away from the seal against the tooth and cause inflammation of the gums – gingivitis. This is a very painful condition and can lead to a loss of teeth. Also the bacterial build up can affect their heart, liver and kidneys.
Puppies and kittens get their deciduous teeth (milk teeth) at approximately 6 – 8 weeks of age. These teeth do not have proper roots and at about 5 – 7 months these teeth start to rot as the permanent teeth start to move up through the gums. This ‘teething’ process is all done by 7 months. Most of the teeth that fall out will be swallowed harmlessly but occasionally you may find one in the carpet.
The permanent teeth need to be looked after. If you have a puppy now is the time to get them used to having their teeth brushed.
Toothpastes claim to be ‘enzymatic’, how much effect this has may be questionable but they do at least taste nice and this can make the job easier.
To start brushing your dog’s teeth is a gradual and slow process.
- Gently stroke the outside of your pet’s cheeks. Do this for 30 seconds then lift lips so that you can see the teeth. Repeat this until your dog is comfortable with this.
- Repeat step 1 but when you lift the lips place a little toothpaste (NEVER HUMAN TOOTHPASTE AS IT BURNS THEIR GUMS) on to the teeth so that the dog can taste the toothpaste.
- Lift the top lip and run your finger of finger toothbrush with a small amount of toothpaste over your pet’s teeth for about 30 to 45 seconds.
- Repeat step 3 extending the time by about 15 seconds each time.
- Once your pet is happy with their teeth being rubbed with a finger for a minute then start to use a brush for about 30 seconds.
- Repeat step 5 and increase the time each time by 30 seconds.
- In the end you should be aiming to spend at least one minute on each side of the mouth.
Brushing is always the ideal but especially in older animals it can be harder to get them used to the process. Also ideally it is a daily job and this is not practical for everyone.
Failing brushing then chewing can help a lot. Just having dried food can help. Also RAW bones are great for keeping teeth clean. BUT bones must never be cooked, despite many pet shops selling them due to a lack of knowledge.
Chewing anything can help keep teeth clean, particularly toys like nylabones and rope toys. Some dogs won’t chew toys etc.
And cats generally will not. In this case the best thing to consider is a dental diet. This is great if plaque is already present in minor amounts. In our experience after 3- 4 months of ‘oral care’ feed or t/d often the need for a dental treatment is gone.
It is well worth having a regular dental routine at home as although dentals are almost inevitable in a lot of animals lives most insurance companies will not cover them for this.
Other causes of halitosis
- If your dog has unpleasant habits of eating their own or other animals’ faeces, this will lead to bad breath. Some of the dental products on the market can help with this.
- If your dog has ‘fishy’ breath, this can be due to their anal glands being full and the smell transferring on to their breath when they lick their rear end.
- If your dog has vomit smelling breath this may be due to gastric acid reflux.