Dental disease can lead to more serious problems such as illnesses related to the heart, liver and kidney.
Over time tartar builds up on the teeth of your pet just as it does on our teeth. If tartar is left, it develops into calculus, a yellow mineral build-up. From this point, the gums can recede and this can lead to tooth and gum infections with the most obvious symptom being bad breath. In serious cases, the bacteria causing this infection can enter the blood stream and end up in vital organs such as the heart and kidneys, so good oral health for your pet is essential.
How can you prevent dental disease?
We remove tartar from our own teeth through daily brushing and although you can brush the teeth of your pet, there are other ways to help reduce the build-up of tartar on your pet’s teeth. Chewing for both dogs and cats is the most effective way to reduce tartar build-up. You can provide fresh bones, or air dried bones for dogs to chew & fresh chicken necks or wings for cats and smaller dogs. Remember, never feed your pet cooked bone of any kind. They can splinter & lead to intestinal obstructions. Always supervise your dog or cat when you give them a bone of any kind.
Dr Rod Salter, President of the AVA’s Australian Veterinary Dental Society, said that many pet owners don’t realise that infected gums and teeth can lead to infections in the kidney, heart, and liver, and even fractured jaws.
“Plaque and tartar contain a multitude of bacteria and toxins that can spread to other parts of the body through the bloodstream,” he said.
Annual dental check-ups and ongoing dental care can prevent some of these serious side effects. Dental disease progresses in stages so it’s important it’s caught early to prevent further damage.
Finally diet plays an important factor in preventing dental disease. A quality dry food should make up about 75% of your dog or cats diet as the crunching of the kibble helps to scratch the tartar and plaque off the teeth. If your pet does not usually eat dry food you can wean them onto it by mixing it with their wet food and gradually reduce the amount of wet food over a series of days. Sometimes warming the food for a few seconds in the microwave can also help. One of the best dry foods for pets with early signs of gum and teeth problems is Hill’s Science Diet Oral Care. The larger kibble size and natural fibres used in Oral Care are designed to clean more of the tooth’s surface as your dog or cat chews, providing longer cleaning action than other dog foods.
Keep treats healthy, there are certain treats for dogs and cats that are designed to help prevent dental problems such as Greenies and Whimzee's. There is also a product called Pet Kiss that can be placed in your pet’s drinking water that will assist in loosening tartar and plaque from your pet’s teeth.
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