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DENTAL HOME CARE FOR YOUR CAT OR DOG

 

Just like people, your pet’s teeth are prone to the build up of tartar and plaque. This can cause inflammation of the gums which can lead to erosion, bad breath, tooth root abscesses and eventually destruction of the tooth root. The mouth can become ulcerated with the inflammation and infection causing pain and discomfort to your pet.

This infection can then cause other more severe problems, especially in an elderly or otherwise compromised animal. Good home care is the most important factor in preventing these conditions and greatly reduces the need for your pet to have their teeth treated under anaesthetic. Most of these treatments work best on clean

teeth and aren’t as effective at removing plaque or tartar so it is best to start a care plan when your pet is young and still has clean teeth or immediately after a professional dental clean and polish.

 

Brushing

This is the most effective way to keep teeth clean and healthy, BUT if you are going to brush your pet’s teeth you must do it daily to derive any real benefit. There is no real benefit from brushing sporadically, so it is a real commitment.

The younger the animal, the easier it is to acclimatise them to the routine. Animals generally don’t like minty flavours, and can’t spit out the foam produced by our toothpastes, so you should use pet products which are also flavoured and don’t contain fluoride.  Instead, they have enzymes to help break down the plaque and are abrasive on the tooth surface.

Start by getting your pet used to the sensation of brushing by gently stroking the cheek over the teeth in small, circular movements. Then introduce the taste of the paste – often they’ll lick this off your finger. When you are ready to start brushing, use either a very soft brush or a pet finger brush.

Concentrate on the outside of the large canine teeth and the back molars. You only have to lift the lip up to access these. If you can progress to cleaning inner and outer surfaces of all teeth you have reached an ideal situation but this is more difficult with cats.

 

Diet

What your pet eats influences the development of tartar and neither soft tinned nor kibble foods act to keep teeth clean. Hills T/D is one specifically formulated diet that acts more like a chew to help keep teeth clean but it must be fed as a minimum of 25{c30ddf26c8e8213cb48863ffab783535ab04d34a51b7feafd4298625679b40f0} of the daily diet. It is tasty and both cats and dogs seem to enjoy the large kibble it comes in.

 

Chews and Solutions

There are now a variety of products that can be added to food, water or fed as treats that can help reduce plaque build-up. Generally they contain enzymes that help to break down the plaque.

Here are some tips to help you get the best from them.

Water additives – eg Vet Aquadent – fights bad breath and helps to limit plaque formation. Introduce gradually to the animals water supply so as not to put them off drinking and build up to the manufacturer’s suggested volume over 10 – 14 days.

Plaque-off – This is a seaweed based product which is added to the pet’s food. This product may help reduce existing tartar and the manufacturer’s claim results are evident between 3-8 weeks. It should not be given to hyperthyroid cats as it contains iodine.

Chlorhexidine Paste – eg Dentisept, a flavoured chlorhexidine gel which adheres to the teeth/gums and can be effective with only weekly application. It can be applied with the finger or a brush to help maintain healthy gums.

Logic – An enzyme based paste that sticks to the teeth/gums and helps control bacterial build up and break down plaque. It must stay in contact with the area for several minutes so your cat can maybe lick it off its paws or your dog lick it from your fingers.

Chews & Rasks – there are very many available, mostly for dogs that generally act in an abrasive fashion on the teeth and can also contain enzymes, but they can be very high in calories so your pet’s diet should be adjusted accordingly.

 

Dental

A dental clean and polish involves a general anaesthetic when the veterinary surgeon examines the mouth and extracts any teeth that need to be removed. The teeth are scaled using an ultrasonic scaling instrument to remove all traces of tartar then polished with an abrasive paste to smooth out any ridges and therefore discourage further tartar build-up.

It cannot remove staining. After a dental cleaning it is usual to have a little blood stained saliva as the cleaning is done right up to and under the gum line, but this soon resolves.

 

Dental checks

The Park Veterinary Centre does offer free dental checks. One of our nurses will examine your pet’s mouth and advice about general dental health care and any treatment, either preventative or corrective, that may be necessary. If the nurse advises that a dental procedure is required an appointment will be arranged to see a vet.

Where possible this will be done during the same visit or on the morning of the dental procedure. During this consultation the vet will perform a general health check and answer any queries you may have. (They may want to prescribe antibiotics before the procedure to minimise the amount of bacteria in the mouth.)

If felt appropriate the vet may recommend an optional pre-op blood test. There is a fee for this pre-op vet check, however the charge will be refunded so long as the dental is booked within 4 weeks of the pre-op check. Once the procedure is booked we can offer an estimate for the price of the dental on request, although we stress it is an estimate as fees are based on the time taken to extract any teeth and this cannot always be accurately assessed beforehand.

 

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