Does my pet need the dentist?

by Handy Mag
Published: Last Updated on

by Clare Brash BVet Med, MRCVS, Station House Vets

Did you know dogs have 43 teeth and cats have 30? Just like us, our pets need dental care to keep them healthy. Dental disease is a leading cause of ill health and fatality with over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats having some form of dental disease by 3 years old.

Signs of dental disease are not always obvious. They include difficulty chewing, bad smelling breath, swelling around the face as well as lethargy and poor appetite. If your pet shows any of these signs it is important to get them checked out at the vets. Remember that your pet can still have a good appetite despite dental disease.

So what really happens when a dog or cat comes to the vets for a ‘dental’?

Your pet needs to skip breakfast and come into the practice where they will be checked over before having some light sedation. All patients then require a general anaesthetic—a safe way to ensure they stay still whilst x-rays are taken. A full set of x-rays are taken as disease is not always visible externally. Cats are susceptible to tooth resorption which can be very painful and the tooth can appear normal from the outside. The mouth and teeth are closely examined, a dental chart completed, and they are scaled with an ultrasonic device that removes all contamination. Any fractured or infected teeth are then carefully removed and dissolvable stitches are used to speed up healing. Finally, the teeth are polished to prevent plaque and bacteria sticking to the surface. Your pet will continue to be monitored and is discharged later the same day.

Don’t forget to brush their teeth as well as your own!

Daily toothbrushing is very beneficial as it prevents plaque building up. It is best to start early and slowly so your pet becomes accustomed to the process. Human toothpaste should not be used but there are animal-safe options. We know this can be easier said than done! Other options include mouthwash and specific food such as Hills dental kibble that has a scientifically designed shape and composition to help keep your pet’s teeth healthy.

Give us a call at Station House Vets on 01653 618303 for advice and book an appointment to get your pet’s teeth checked and discuss the best options for managing and preventing dental disease.

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