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.
Why Should I Clean My Pet’s Teeth?
Simply put, dental home care needs to control the build-up of bacteria on the teeth. Bacteria attract white blood cells, which we see as pus and inflammation. Paradoxically the pus does not affect the teeth. However, it can severely affect the surrounding gums and bone. This means you get gum and bone loss, which will eventually be so severe that teeth will start to fall out.
This whole process is called periodontal disease and it is the most common disease in the world! That is why you should clean your pet’s teeth. Cleaning becomes particularly important in older pets and in those with other illnesses.
Still not convinced? Watch the video from the homepage.
How To Clean Your Pet’s Teeth… The Science
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 Controls
A combination of both methods is best – that’s why most human dentists recommend brushing, flossing and using an antiseptic mouthwash.
How To Clean Your Pet’s Teeth… The Practicality
Important! You can’t start homecare on a painful, infected mouth. Get your pet checked by your vet. If there are already dental problems, a pet dental cleaning under anaesthetic is required. This may also require extractions or other treatments with appropriate pain relief.
Once your pet has a happy (pain-free) and healthy (no gum, tooth or bone disease) mouth, you are ready to start.
The aim of home care is to prevent (or slow down) the recurrence of dental disease. This will help prolong the time between any further dental treatments.
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.
Try the Slow and Sneaky Method as a start.
More 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. Keep watching the blog because we will populate it with all sorts of homecare methods, products and reviews.
We will also be providing specific videos and handouts on how to clean dog’s teeth and how to clean cat’s teeth.
Leave a comment below if you would like us to write about a particular method or product.
Other Helpful Resources
Broken dog teeth are one of the most common problems we see – specifically slab fractures of the upper carnassials. The carnassials are big teeth on the side of the mouth that dogs chew with. Dogs chew in a scissor-like action and if the tooth is strong, the object...