The importance of oral health in pets

Your pets oral health is a key element in their overall health and wellbeing, and can impact far more than their teeth and gums.  From dental disease to serious liver and kidney infections, there are many reasons oral health is important in your pets.

Prevention is better than cure when it comes to your pet’s health!

How to protect your pet against dental disease

Brush your pet’s teeth every day to protect your pet against dental disease. Make sure to use pet toothpaste, as human toothpaste can be toxic to pets. Perform a thorough monthly check to see if there’s a build up of plaque on their teeth and look for tooth discolouration; yellow or brown teeth are a sign of potential rot.

If you see your pet chewing mostly on one side or drooling, this may mean they have a toothache, and it’s time to take them to your vet. 

Managing bad breath in pets

Halitosis, also called bad breath, is described as an offensive odour originating from the mouth of our pets. Bad breath is a very common reason pet owners bring their pets in to see us at the vet clinic. Common causes may be related to the mouth or, occasionally, related to other more systemic health problems.

What causes bad breath in pets?

The most common cause of halitosis in our pets is periodontal disease. The unpleasant smell often results from bacteria in the mouth. 

Bacteria is attracted to the tooth surface within hours of cleaning the teeth. Within days, the plaque becomes mineralized producing calculus.  Calculus is hard and needs to be removed using an ultrasonic dental instrument to remove it from our pet’s teeth. 

As plaque progresses, gums can become inflamed (gingivitis) sore and sometimes even bleed. If left unchecked, other undesirable changes can occur such as bone loss from the jaw. The bacteria involved contributes to halitosis.

Other causes of halitosis include 

  • endocrine (hormonal) disease such as diabetes (“sweet” smell to the breath)
  • organic disease such as kidney disease
  • gastrointestinal disease (some type of cancers, foreign bodies, motility issues); 
  • skin disease (infections in the lip fold in some breeds of dogs commonly cause halitosis)
  • dietary (eating fetid foodstuffs or eating stools - “coprophagia”); 
  • Oral disease not involving the teeth and gums (cancerous growths); 
  • Foreign bodies (bones, sticks, fish hooks) or trauma including electric cord injury

How to maintain your pet's oral health

Once you get into a routine, the following list takes no time at all. Your pet does most of the work, or chewing! Follow this healthy teeth checklist:

Regular tooth brushing: Brush every day with pet toothpaste and a pet toothbrush! If this is a new concept for your pet, make sure to introduce this gradually and provide lots of reward and recognition. 

Dental dry food: Feed your pet a dental diet, these diets have a unique shape that encourages chewing, which helps to dislodge plaque. If you are unsure which dental diet would be best for your pet, seek advice from your veterinary team.

Dental chews: Give your pet a dental chew to encourage healthy saliva production and to help dislodge plaque.

Rubber chew toys: Like a dental chew, but these ones last a lot longer! Chewing is key in helping to dislodge plaque.

Regular dental checks: Make sure to visit your vet for regular dental checks. These are vital in keeping track of your pet’s overall health. 

What to do if your pet has dental problems

Head straight to your vet for an oral heath check if your pet shows any signs of dental problems. Cats and dogs are instinctively experts at hiding pain so examine their mouth regularly to see if there’s something wrong. 

Depending on the dental issue, your vet may need to perform a dental procedure under general anaesthetic to get rid of visible, hard-to-move plaque.

If your pet needs a dental health check or has been acting out of the ordinary, please contact our team to book an appointment. 



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