April 2019: Vet Blog
Tricks for tackling doggy dentistry
Did you know that over 80% of dogs and cats suffer gum disease before they are 3 years old? Along with neutering, dental procedures are one of the commonest causes of a pet needing an anesthetic. Owners bring their pets in with symptoms of mouth pain, smelly breath, having problems eating and excessive drooling. These pets often need an anesthetic to have their teeth cleaned and sometimes need extractions. However, prevention is better than cure.
Just like your own teeth and your children’s teeth, brushing is the best way to care for your pet’s teeth too. It will benefit their health and also, an added bonus, save you money. The best time to start to brush your pet’s teeth is when they are a puppy or kitten. This way they will get used to the routine. One essential thing to consider here is the puppy and kitten socialisation period spans from 6 to 12 weeks and so this is the perfect time frame for owners to start training and teaching. For acceptance, make brushing enjoyable and non-threatening from a very early age. This way they will tolerate brushing when they are older. This is where the saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks!” is so true.
Use a soft bristle toothbrush or a rubber finger brush. The silicon finger brushes are perfect for training and easy to use. Start by just letting your pet eat some soft food from your index finger. Then allow your pet to lick the food off a finger brush. In a separate training session, practice lifting their lips to expose the teeth for about one second and then reward them. Gradually combine the two activities and introduce pet toothpaste. Always reward acceptance and use tasty pet toothpaste.
If your pet will not tolerate brushing then there are other options.
Gel or paste that is smeared onto their teeth.
Specially designed dental chews and biscuits.
Seaweed powder ‘Plaque Off’ to add to their food.
The trick is to find something that your pet tolerates and then do it on a daily basis to prevent plaque build up. Some older pet’s teeth will have a layer of hard tartar stuck to them and need them scaled and polished under anaesthetic.
If you can look after your pet’s teeth they are less likely to get dental infections, less likely to need teeth extracted and have all round better health.