Pet dental health has become more of a topic of interest and discussion in recent years. I think it’s definitely more prevalent now simply because we’re spending more time with our pets. But also there are changes in what people are feeding their pets now. They’re on more of a boutique specialty diet.
These days we’re spending a lot more time with our pets. There are a lot more boutique breeds that go everywhere with us. They’re always in our laps, always with us on the couch and we’re detecting bad breath. And that’s why we’re seeing a lot more attention being paid to oral health—simply because of the breed of dogs we’re seeing and the diets that they’re eating.
They might be on a raw diet. Or they’re eating a lot more soft food. When your dog is chewing soft food every day, it’s the equivalent to us never brushing our teeth. By the end of the day, you’ve got that furry feeling that builds up on your teeth and essentially that’s bacteria. When dogs eat mainly soft food, that bacteria or that furry feeling will build up on their teeth and travel up into the jaw. That’s when we get a tooth root abscess or an infection in the root of the tooth up in the jaw and that becomes really painful and uncomfortable.
Why you have to watch your pet’s dental health
Dogs and cats are very good at hiding pain. With humans, if we’re in pain, we’ll whinge because someone will listen to us. But dogs and cats are a little bit different. We can’t understand their language. They won’t cry in pain like we would.
But when we as vets have a look at their mouth, we can clearly see the infection. Sometimes you can see that they have been chewing on one side. That’s a sure sign because if they’ve got a painful tooth on one side, they’ll only chew their biscuits or their food on the other side. That’s one of those subtle signs that an owner can easily miss.
Manually brushing your pet’s teeth is not the answer. They may not tolerate that very well. And with our busy lifestyles, I find that the client compliance to brushing their dog’s teeth is very poor. We struggle just to brush our own teeth let alone our dog’s teeth.
Diet is the number one way of keeping your dog’s teeth clean. We recommend a special dental biscuit. It’s called Hill’s T/D and it works in two ways. It works as a mechanical brushing action. When your dog or cat bites through the biscuit, which is a little bit bigger than normal, the biscuit will hold its shape. When your pet’s tooth goes through the biscuit, it will brush that bacteria off the teeth. So these biscuits are specially designed to mechanically brush off the bacteria—and the other action is like a mouthwash clean.
I also recommend every day you let your pet brush their own teeth with something like a dental stick or chew or a fresh raw, meaty bone. It doesn’t matter which one—as long as they’re not coating their teeth with that soft tin food. The tinned food is what makes their teeth rotten and smell yucky.
And the other product we recommend is a product called PlaqueOff, which is an amazing product. It’s a powder and you sprinkle it on your dog or your cat’s food once a day. It helps to keep your pet’s mouth nice and clean, by combining with the saliva and getting rid of bacteria on the teeth.
Free dental checks in August
At Pet Medical, every August, we do free dental checks. What that involves is making an appointment with one of our wonderful nurses, and we’ll be delighted to show you how to check your dog’s teeth and what signs to look for. Make sure you come along to ensure your pet’s mouth stays nice and healthy.