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Straight from the doctor’s mouth… By Anke van Zyl
There is nothing like coming home from a long day’s work and being greeted by a loving, reeking mouth. Your pets’ that is…
Oral care is very important for the wellbeing of your pets; it not only prevents unwanted and painful diseases, but it also helps for the frown lines on your face every time you enter the house. Diseases like gingivitis, abscesses on the heart valves and liver and periodontal disease may occur if your pets’ oral health is forgotten.
Gingivitis is common in both dogs and cats with bad dental health. The inflamed gums - and sometimes even bleeding gums - cause so much pain for your pet that they stop eating. They do not have a decrease in appetite, it is simply too painful to eat. So, if your pet is drooling a lot and only staring at its food, check the gums!
Another form of gingivitis, which is a significant problem in veterinary practice, is feline stomatitis. This causes inflammation to: the teeth, gums, the insides of the cheeks, the soft palate and the throat of your cat. Stomatitis is an abnormal immune response. Basically, it is like your cat is allergic to its own saliva…
Primary dental disease is one of the most common conditions affecting cats. Roughly 70% of cats, under 3 years of age, are affected by some sort of dental disease.
A rotten mouth also exposes your pet to Periodontal Disease. Plaque causes inflammation of some or all of the tooth’s support structures, which means that bone loss occurs, as well as destruction of the tissue surrounding the tooth. In some cases microscopic lesions can be found that affects the animals’ liver, kidneys and brain.
Broken teeth and foreign bodies also cause big problems for your pets’ oral health. Foreign bodies, such as sticks and bones, get stuck in your dog or cats’ mouth, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to eat and drink properly seeing that the soft pallet and sometimes the throat is blocked in a way. Even a small object like a twig or small rock can get stuck to a tooth and may cause abscesses or infections.
If your dog has a tooth that is broken at the root canal, infections and abscesses may occur which will rot the tooth. Like apples, one bad tooth infects the other teeth. In many cases owners don’t even know that there is something stuck between their pets’ teeth, so it is very important to get their teeth checked when they visit the vet for their annual vaccination and check-up.
Retained temporary teeth can cause a big problem especially in toy breed dogs which are prone to this. These baby teeth that do not fall out are in close proximity to the permanent teeth and can cause early tooth decay due to food being stuck between them.
This is the way they are not supposed to look…
Toy breed dogs, like Yorkies and Toy Poms, usually
struggle to lose their baby teeth, which causes
BIG problems concerning plaque build-up.
This is the way your dogs’ teeth are
supposed to look…
Important signs to look out for is weight loss (sometime radically, but in most cases it is over a period of time) bad breath, pain while eating, difficulty eating or trying to eat but doesn’t.
Good oral health looks like this! There are no foreign bodies stuck to any teeth, there is no plaque build-up around the teeth or under the gums. In short: his oral health is well taken care of.
Causes of plaque build-up and rotten teeth:
Wrong food – some types of food are more prone to cling to teeth or get compacted between teeth
Certain type of treats
Bones (NEVER give bones) – teeth often gets broken or chipped from chewing on bones.
Giving food or treats throughout the day – pets should be fed in meals to allow for the natural cleaning action of the mouth to take place.
Some toys brake or chip teeth
Small toys may get stuck in the mouth or between the teeth
Playing or chewing of sticks or stones
Retained temporary teeth
Genetically predisposed to dental problems
Inadequate dental care at home
So what do you do when your cat’s saliva is making it sick or your dogs’ breath is so rotten that you fear he might have rotten intestines? You go to the root of the problem, literally.
Plaque and rotting smells are partly caused by the wrong food. You can prevent bad breath and plaque build-up by giving your pets food which CLEANS their teeth; and that is pellets… dry, hard pellets, fed in 1 to 2 meals per day. Soft food such as tinned food, pouches and table food causes plaque build-up, while dry pellets helps to clean the teeth. So, put away the pouches and keep it only for special occasions. Fluffy’s hateful looks will go away in time, or you will start to ignore it, but you will be helping his health!
Luckily there are ways to prevent plaque build-up! Except from feeding them the right food, brushing their teeth and giving them the right treats helps to “scrape” the plaque off. And if all else fails or it is beyond the point where treats may help, you will have to visit your vet for a dental scale and polish.
Dental scaling and Polish cleans both the teeth and underneath the gums where all the bad plaque build-up occurs. Teeth which are rotten or cause periodontal disease or gingivitis will be extracted. The polish is very important! It smoothest the surface of the tooth, this helps prevent food from sticking to the teeth.
So, to prevent rotting smells, bleeding gums and premature aging take care of your pets’ oral health. I guarantee that your welcomes will be a lot more fragrant!
The helpful vets and manager at Pierre van Ryneveld Vet Clinic…
1 August 2012. Jan Bellows, DVM.
2 August 2012. Callum Blair, BVMS MRCVS.