Pet Dental Care
What can you do about your pet's dental health?
Regular dental cleanings are beneficial for pets the same as they are for their owners. Our dental consultations as well as our in-house dental x-ray can determine the health of your pet’s mouth and whether extractions are necessary to alleviate pain and discomfort.
Over 68% of all pets over the age of 3 have some form of periodontal or dental disease and is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in pets. Our pets cannot tell us if their teeth are hurting therefore it is up to pet owners, and their veterinarian, to uncover this hidden and often painful condition.
Signs of Periodontal Disease
All pets are at risk of developing dental problems. Once a pet displays any of the warning signs below, serious periodontal disease may be present. Regular examinations and yearly cleanings by your veterinarian can prevent pain, tooth loss and systemic disease. Below are some of the warning signs to indicate that your pet may be suffering from periodontal disease:
- Halitosis (bad breath)
- Tooth loss
- Abnormal drooling
- Dropping food out of the mouth
- Swallowing food whole
- Yellow-brown crust on teeth
- Bleeding gums
- Going to the food bowl but not eating
- Change of chewing or eating habits
- Subdued behavior
How a Simple Dental Infection Spreads
More than 85% of cats and dogs over four years old suffer from periodontal disease, a condition in which bacteria attacks the soft gum tissue. As bacteria multiply on the tooth surface, they form a coating called plaque. The bacteria forming the plaque produces toxins which irritate the gums. In time, the plaque mineralizes and hardens, becoming what is called calculus, or tartar. This irritates the gums making them tender, red and swollen.
Eventually, the inflamed gums pull away from the teeth creating pockets that trap food particles and provide an excellent location for more bacteria to grow. As these pockets deepen, the development of plaque and tartar can progress along the root of the tooth, causing the tooth to loosen.
Once the gums have reached this state of deterioration, they bleed easily when pets eat and chew. Bacteria from the plaque and tartar accumulation can enter the pet’s bloodstream. THIS IS WHERE THE DANGER LIES. Once bacteria enter into the bloodstream, it can travel to major organs and begin infection there. Organs with the highest blood flow are susceptible to such infections; the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and, in some cases, the nervous system.
Good dental hygiene can prevent periodontal disease from developing in the first place.
Good Dental Health Begins with the Proper Diet
The wrong kinds of food can cause dental distress in pets. Feeding your cat or dog a dry food rather than a moist, canned one will, through its mild abrasive action on the teeth, help remove the bacterial plaque that can harden into tartar. Dry food also provides adequate chewing exercise and gum stimulation. Avoid giving your pet sweet treats and table scraps as they may also increase plaque and tartar formation. We recommend the use of special dry foods designed to reduce plaque and tartar buildup, especially if your pet is prone to dental problems due to his breed or individual genetic history.
Hills t/d food (which is available for both cats and dogs) is formulated specifically for the nutritional management of dogs with dental disease and to help prevent dental disease. Its special fiber matrix scrubs the exposed tooth surface like an edible toothbrush, reducing bacteria-laden plaque.
Dental Care Products
Along with a nutritious dental formulated diet, we recommend dental treats and regular brushing. We have a variety of dental chews and toothpastes that contain enzymes that break down the sticky plaque that later forms into tartar if not removed. The enzymes also help fight gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) as they produce an antibacterial action against the bacteria found in plaque and tartar. To help make brushing your pet’s teeth easier, the pet toothpastes we have in stock come in a variety of flavors such as tuna, seafood, chicken, beef and vanilla malt. Human toothpaste should NOT be used on pets as they are foaming products and are not meant to be swallowed. Additionally, many tubes of human toothpastes contain sodium and fluoride which may cause problems in some pets.
Chew toys and chew aids are available, like C.E.T. rawhides for dogs. These contain the same enzymes as pet toothpaste and chewing will not only help keep teeth clean but exercise jaws and relieve boredom.
We also carry a wide range of chew toys, chew aids, toothpastes, tooth rinses/gels and dental treats. KONG’s are a highly favoured toy here at Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital. They provide hours of mental stimulation, great chewing action and the Dental KONG has the added benefit of grooves shaped like a prophy cup (which is the tool used by dentists for polishing teeth). Simply place a small amount of toothpaste into the grooves and your dog will clean their own teeth.
Preventative Dental Home Care
Would you or even your children go a life time without brushing your teeth? How about a month? A day? Our guess is your answer is “No” to all of those questions.
Now imagine being a cat or a dog that does not brush their teeth, and eats regular kibble and wet food. Now imagine the feeling in that pet’s mouth after a couple years of not brushing. What about a lifetime? Imagine the food that gets stuck between the teeth and the plaque and tartar build up over the years. Think about the pain you would have when teeth become loose or you have a fractured tooth which exposes the pulp and nerve within the tooth but have no real way of communicating this to your owner.
Now imagine a team that is here to help. Well you don’t have to imagine
Our team wants to help you make dental health an easy part of a daily routine for you and your pet. Let’s start as puppies and kittens. Once your new pet comes home you can take very small steps to get your pet used to a dental routine.
GOLDEN RULES– Be Positive and Have Patience.
- Use treats or a special toy after each step for a successful outcome
- Start small by gently touching the chin, lips, nose and around the entire muzzle
- After this is tolerated well move to lifting the lips but still touching the muzzle
- Gradually move on to touching the gums gently
- Once tolerated well start to rub the gums and teeth
At about 4 months old your puppy or kitten may start to pull away or not want you to touch the mouth. This is most likely due to teething. From 4-6 month the baby teeth start falling out and the adult teeth erupt. This makes the mouth sore and you may want to reduce the amount of time and pressure you put on the gums. Once theses teeth have fully erupted, you can go back to gently rubbing the teeth and gums daily.
- Slowly start to work your way toward a toothbrush
- Focus on the cheek side of the teeth as most animals will not tolerate touching the back of the teeth
- The cheek side of a tooth is most prone to plaque and tartar buildup
- Position your pets so they are looking away from you and use your finger to lift the lip at the corner and rub the teeth
- Once comfortable try using a bit of pet toothpaste on your finger and rub it on the teeth (toothpaste comes in a variety of flavours so you can choose your pet’s favourite) Only use pet toothpaste – never use human pastes as they contain fluoride and foaming agents that will upset your pet's stomach, and they do not like the taste
- If the toothbrush is not well accepted you can try a bit of tuna juice or chicken broth to make it a better experience.
If you have questions please call us or come in for a consult with one our technologists so we help you reach your dental goals for your pet.
PLEASE NOTE: If you have never tried to brush your pet’s teeth and they already have any degree of poor oral health, please DO NOT start a home care regime on your own. If they have swollen, bleeding gums, loose teeth, resorptive lesions (progressive, destructive legions of the teeth) or oral masses, then brushing will be painful and a very negative experience. The time and effort that you commit to this training process can make a significant improvement in your pet’s dental health. This will impact the quality of the life of your pet and enhance the bond that you will share with your treasured companion. Reference Waltham FOCUS Vol 13, No. 2, 2003
Pets are treasured family members at Tudor Glen Veterinary Hospital and we are privileged to be entrusted as advocates for your pet's care. Our team of highly devoted veterinarians, registered veterinary technologists and assistants, receptionists and management are committed to fostering a warm, caring, professional, and respectful atmosphere for our patients and clients.
Our mission is to inspire our clients to partner with our team members to nurture and preserve the human-animal bond through communication, medical expertise, compassionate hearts and gentle hands.
1005 Tudor Glen Place,
St. Albert, AB T8N 3V4