The Important Role of Dental Awareness

Would you ever want to see your pets experience any painful or serious disease? The overwhelming answer would be a simple NO. However, dental disease in our pets is one of the most underestimated causes of pain and discomfort, which can lead to a few missing teeth or more serious conditions! Amazingly dental disease is estimated to be present in 80% of dogs and cats over three years of age! What are the chances your pet is in that 80%?

Imagine having a toothache when you were once little; the pain is almost identical to what your pets are exposed to on a day-to-day basis, but unlike us, they are a little more stoical about it and often continue to eat and drink normally. Making it hard for us pet parents to know anything is wrong!

Genetics play a role in the disease, but it is mainly caused by a lack of mechanical action on the teeth. This allows bacteria to stick to the teeth and form plaque and then calculus.

Common symptoms

So how do we ‘know’? The following is a list of things us vets look for;

  • Bleeding or inflamed gums
  • Brown or yellow discolouration over the teeth (tartar)
  • Extremely loose or missing teeth
  • Bad breath
  • Blood tinged (unusual) or excessive saliva/drooling
  • Pus around the teeth
  • Chewing on one side of the mouth over the other
  • Not playing with toys like they used to e.g. tug toys

Some breeds are more predisposed to dental disease, with those with flatter faces such as Frenches, bulldogs and pugs, as well as those with smaller jaws, such as the small fluffy type breeds like miniatures and terriers, more commonly and severely affected. Though, the disease is preventable, or its severity reduce through things like the brushing of teeth (where tolerated!), specialist dental diets or at a minimum an exclusively dry food diet.

Treatment options

Whilst the above is good at prevention, professional dental cleaning/ treatments are generally required, and in some cases they will need to be performed as frequently as every 6-12 months – though that depends on the pet, with many pets needing them at least every 1-2 years. This level of care should hopefully avoid the loss or necessary extraction of many teeth as the pets age, as well as reduce the risk of complicating disease. Poor oral health can have a knock on impact on the heart and kidneys with serious implications, so prevention really is better than cure!

As pet owners, we can prevent our lovely pets from getting dental disease, and the condition can be treated and reversed - if detected early. When it comes to your pet’s oral health, regular visits to the vet clinic can ensure your pets smile lasts for years to come! Visit us for a dental check and chat about the best plan for your pet.


Dog mouth with tongue hanging out

What does bad breath mean for your pet?

Dog mouth with tongue hanging out

Bad breath in our pets isn’t just a remanence of what they have eaten, but a sign of more serious diseases lurking in their mouth or elsewhere in the body.

What causes bad breath?

The number one cause of bad breath is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is caused by a build-up of bacteria, tartar and plaque which then damages the gums, teeth and oral ligaments and can cause our pets' teeth to fall out. The bacteria that sits on the teeth can then move its way through the body and damage vital organs.

Some other causes of bad breath are:

  • Diabetes
  • Kidney disease
  • Cancers
  • Skin infections
  • Foreign bodies

My pet has bad breath, what do I do?

If you have identified that your p

et has bad breath, it’s important that you visit us to narrow down what the cause is.

If the smell is because of periodontal disease, professional cleaning along with at-home tooth brushing and good oral health can aide in cure and prevention. If the smell is caused by something else, once treated, the smell should go away.

It’s important to have regular check-ups with us, that way issues can be identified before it is too late.

Prevention is the best medicine

Like us humans, maintaining good oral hygiene is key to good breath. The same goes for our furry friends. To avoid issues relating to periodontal disease brush your pet's teeth often with a soft toothbrush and pet-friendly toothpaste, feed them food that is designed with your pet’s dental health in mind and feed them a dental chew daily.

If you are noticing a bad smell as your pet breathes, it is important that you arrange an appointment with us as soon as possible so we can determine what the cause is and discuss possible treatment options.


Vet holding dog and cat

Focus on worms

Both dogs and cats need to be regularly treated for worms. The most common form of worms are roundworms, hookworms, whipworms and tapeworms. Most of the time your pet can be infected with worms without you even knowing. Because of this, both dogs and cats worming schedules should be followed closely to prevent them from infection.

In this article, we will explore the different types of worms that can infect your pet.

Vet holding dog and cat
It is essential to stay on top of worming treatment for your pet

Roundworms

This is the most common type of worm in both dogs and cats. Adult roundworms live in the intestines of our pets and can produce 200,000 eggs per day. Many pets don’t show any signs of being infected, however in major cases of infection the symptoms are:

  • Rapid breathing, nasal discharge and cough, sometimes pneumonia
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Poor overall condition, weight loss and a poor coat
  • Faeces with spaghetti-like worms up to 18cm

Whipworms

Whipworms aver 4 – 7.5cm in length and can live up to 1.5 years. Their eggs are very resistant and can remain infectious for up to 5 years in the environment. Whipworms usually only infect dogs and cause problems especially in kennels. Most infections are without symptoms but sometimes can lead to slimy diarrhoea and fresh blood.

Hookworms

These worms live in the small intestine and feed on the lining of the intestines and can be potentially fatal. Hookworms also suck blood which can lead to internal blood loss. In older animals, the blood loss may be chronic, and the pet may have diarrhea and show weight loss.

Tapeworms

This tapeworm is largely harmless and is transmitted via fleas and sometimes lice. Cats and dogs can catch a flea and eat it, and in doing so can infect itself with the eggs of the tapeworm that are inside the flea. Tapeworm can grow to up to about 50cm but a pet will only show symptoms when there are many of them – such as diarrhoea.

How to protect your pet

It is essential to stay on top of worming treatment for your pet. Take note of their last treatment and when their next treatment is due to ensure that they stay protected at all times. As well as a timely treatment there are extra things you can do to keep your pet protected:

  • Disinfect food and water bowls regularly
  • Annual wellness checks with your veterinarian.
  • Pick up after your pet regularly
  • Keep their common areas clean