Pets and oral health

Bad teeth was for many years the insult aimed at two legged Brits, but these days it’s our four legged companions whose dental routine is lacking.
pet oral health

Poor oral health in pets can cause serious issues in later life. Here are 5 tips to help Pooch and Tiddles keep their teeth in tip top condition.

Research has found that only 1 in every 16 dog owners and 1 in every 50 cat owners are brushing their pets’ teeth as frequently as vets recommend.

It can be argued, with merit, that dogs and cats managed perfectly well over millennia – without the use of a tooth brush, but then again so did we. Just like us our pets are living longer and that longevity increases the likelihood for oral problems if we don’t keep their teeth and gums in good condition.

Dog breath can mean poor oral health

If your dog or cat has reached the age of three and hasn’t had its teeth cleaned, then chances are it will already have developed gum disease (or periodontal disease) and left unchecked this could have serious health implication in later life.

Your pets should have their teeth brushed daily if possible, however the research shows that only 6% of dogs and 2% of cats are receiving this care. Furthermore, almost half of all dogs and 8 out of ten cats have never had their teeth brushed at all.

So what’s putting people off? The research shows that the most common reason is that pet owners don’t realise they need to brush their pet’s teeth. A further third felt that their pets don’t like having it done, and more than half felt that feeding a dental chew toy or chew stick was an adequate replacement for brushing.

Bad breath is also an issue, with more than a third of owners saying that bad breath is quite normal in cats and dogs – when in actual fact it isn’t, and can be an early sign of gum disease.

TV Vet, Marc Abraham, said; “Poor dental health is unfortunately one of the biggest ‘silent’ problems we see as a vet. Your cat or dog can’t tell you that their mouth is sore or that their teeth are hurting, and the only real way to safeguard against it is very regular brushing. Four out of every five cats and dogs over the age of three suffers from gum disease which, when left untreated, can lead to serious health problems in later life. If you can manage it, daily brushing is recommended, the same as with your own teeth, and with a bit of practice, you can effectively clean your pet’s teeth in a matter of minutes.”

For pet owners worried about how they can get into a good dental care routine with their pet, TV vet Marc Abraham provides you with some top tips on getting started.

5 top tips for pet dental health

  1. Don’t use human toothpaste; buy specially flavoured cat or dog toothpaste from your vet or local pet store.
  2. Don’t go straight to brushing; let your pet enjoy the toothpaste first. They enjoy the taste of it, so letting them lick the toothpaste first will get them used to the smell, taste and texture.
  3. Start by brushing the front teeth. These are the easiest for you to get to – and once your pet is comfortable with their front teeth being brushed, you can move on to the back molars.
  4. Be patient – it takes time to gain your pet’s confidence and manage a full teeth clean, so take it slowly.
  5. Make it fun! Teeth cleaning can be part of a fun and bonding game and as your pet becomes accustomed to having it done, the process will become quick and easy to do. 

*Research carried out by Tesco Bank Pet Insurance

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Last modified: May 6, 2021

Written by 11:08 am Pets