It is no surprise that cats and dogs need some TLC in the oral health department. Between 70% – 80% of cats and dogs over the age of three will develop some form of dental disease. Dental disease (periodontal disease) forms due to plaque build-up which causes inflammation of the gums. The good news is that in most cases, periodontal disease is preventable with simple dental practices you can do at home.
How to Prevent Dental Disease
There are a few ways you can look after your pet’s chompers:
1. Brush their teeth
Teeth brushing can prevent the build-up of plaque which is the main cause of dental disease. Toddler toothbrushes are great for pets, or you can purchase especially-made toothbrushes from your nearest pet care store. You should never use human toothpaste for your pets as it can result in an upset stomach. Instead, find special pet toothpaste at your local pet care store (chicken and beef flavours are great for getting your pet into the habit of tooth brushing). Begin with slow and concise sessions and gradually grow them larger as your pet becomes more comfortable with the process. Effective brushing uses a circular motion. Brushing for just 30 – 60 seconds daily or at least a couple of times a week will work wonders for your pets.
2. Dental treats
If you can’t manage a consistent routine of brushing, you can also give your pet dental chew treats. Chew treats work similarly to brushing, in removing the build-up of plaque. But they should not be relied upon solely to do the job. You can find dental chew treats for your cats or dogs in most grocery stores and pet care stores.
Dental toys are a great way to encourage your pets to chew. By chewing, pets spread protective saliva around their teeth and gums and also run the plaque off their teeth. Though this method should not be relied on solely for your pet’s oral health, it is a great exercise for your pet between other mentioned methods.
Hint: ‘Kong’ toys are royalty in the dental health toys categories.
Signs of dental disease
Periodontal disease is a very uncomfortable disease for pets. So it is advantageous to know the signs of the disease so that you can act promptly. Some signs of dental diseases in cats and dogs are:
- Pawing at their mouths
- Foul-smelling breath
- Excessive drooling
- Discoloured teeth
- Changes in behaviour (increased aggression)
- Loose teeth
- Bumps/ lumps in the mouth
If you’re worried your pet might already be showing signs of dental diseases, make sure to consult your vet so you can begin treatment early.