Dental Care and Prevention
There is so much conflicting information on dental care in pets. Walk into any pet store or supermarket, and you will be confronted by a confusing array of products for dogs and cats, all promising to fulfil all their dental hygiene needs.
Simply put, dental home care needs to control the build-up of bacteria on the teeth. Most methods and products have varying benefits, but these need to be weighed up with any potential risks. Plaque control comes down to TWO basic mechanisms: mechanical and chemical control. Plaque constantly forms on the teeth every day (think about that furry scum layer on your own teeth first thing in the morning, even if you brushed the night before).
Mechanical control physically removes the plaque, with the most common methods of this being toothbrushing and chewing. People often underestimate the value of toothbrushing in pets – we agree it sounds a bit crazy at first, but many pets can be trained to actually enjoy this. We use the Slow and Sneaky Method to train our dogs and cats, with good success.
Chewing is an enjoyable way to clean the teeth naturally, but not all dental foods and chews are created equal. The debate around feeding bones still rages, but a logical approach, weighing up the risks and benefits, can make your decision on what to offer your pet much clearer.
Chemical methods use antiseptics to kill the plaque bacteria, or compounds that help prevent plaque from hardening into tartar (calculus), thereby making it easier to mechanically remove from the teeth. A combination of both methods is best – that’s why most human dentists recommend brushing, flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash.
Different pets will prefer or allow different options, so we don’t tend to make one-size-fits-all recommendations. Rather, we believe in tailoring our advice to fit your pet’s needs, your own lifestyle (including time constraints!), and the costs of different options, to minimise dental problems and the need for treatment under anaesthesia.
General information on different methods of plaque control and how to assess their suitability for your individual pet, can be found below. If you have questions that aren’t answered here, head over to the contact section for further advice.
Other Helpful Resources
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