Hi, I’m Jason from ablepaws.co.uk and in this article, we’ll be discussing dental disease in small animal pets. Dental disease is a common condition that affects the oral cavity of our pets, with plaque and tartar accumulation being some of the most common issues in older dogs. As a result, it’s essential to increase owner understanding of dental disease to prevent it from occurring and improve our pets’ welfare and quality of life.
In this article, we’ll cover the signs of dental disease, the causes and risk factors, prevention and treatment methods, and much more. By the end of this article, you’ll have a better understanding of dental disease and how to optimize your pet’s dental health.
- Dental disease is a common condition that affects the oral cavity of our pets, with plaque and tartar accumulation being some of the most common issues in older dogs.
- Some of the key signs of dental disease include bad breath, reduced feed intake, hyper salivation, and weight loss.
- Prevention methods such as regular teeth brushing, dental chews, and dental supplements can help prevent dental disease, while treatment methods such as scale and polish and dental surgery can be used if needed.
Introduction to Dental Disease
As a veterinary professional, I have seen many cases of dental disease in small animal pets. Dental disease is a common umbrella term which consists of many different conditions in the oral cavity. One of the most common dental diseases we see, especially in older dogs, is plaque and tartar accumulation.
Dental disease is a real issue that many vets face on a daily basis in practice. Increasing owner understanding will not only help to prevent dental disease from occurring but also help to improve the welfare and quality of life for our small animal pets.
So, what exactly is dental disease? Dental disease is a condition that affects the teeth and gums of our pets. It can lead to a range of health problems, including bad breath, reduced feed intake, hypersalivation, weight loss, and difficulty eating. If left untreated, dental disease can lead to more serious health problems, such as gum disease, tooth decay, and even a reduced quality of life.
In the next sections, I will discuss the signs of dental disease, the causes and risk factors, and prevention and treatment methods that can help to optimize our pets’ dental health.
Signs of Dental Disease
Halitosis, or bad breath, is a common sign of dental disease in pets. While some form of bad breath is normal, if an owner notices it getting progressively worse over time, it could be a sign of dental disease starting in their pet. Halitosis can be caused by the build up of bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to infections and other dental problems.
Reduced Feed Intake
If an animal has dental disease and dental pain, they may not want to eat as much as they normally would. This can lead to reduced feed intake, which can cause weight loss in the long term. As a result, reduced feed intake is a common sign of dental disease in pets.
Hypersalivation, or excessive drooling, is another sign of potential dental disease in pets. This can be caused by pain or discomfort in the mouth, which can be a result of dental problems such as infections, gum disease, or tooth decay.
Reduced feed intake can lead to weight loss in pets, which is another sign of dental disease. Owners can assess their pet’s weight by body condition scoring, which involves feeling over the ribs and spinous processes to assess the fat coverage over these locations. Measuring body weight is also a good way to see fluctuations over a long period of time, although daily fluctuations in body weight are normal.
Owners can physically inspect the mouth and teeth of their pets to assess for dental disease. They can lift their pet’s upper lip and look for signs such as discoloration of the teeth, plaque accumulation, tartar accumulation, or redness or bleeding around the gums. A condition called gingivitis, which is inflammation of the gums, is also a sign of dental disease. In addition, owners can perform a body condition score to assess their pet’s weight and overall health.
Causes and Risk Factors of Dental Disease
As mentioned earlier, there are many causes and risk factors that can predispose our pets to dental disease. In this section, I will discuss some of the most common ones.
Unfortunately, genetics is a risk factor that we cannot prevent. Certain dogs are just more predisposed to dental disease than others. We tend to see smaller dogs, especially of an older age, develop dental disease more commonly than larger dogs. Therefore, it is important to be extra vigilant with smaller dogs and to ensure they receive regular dental check-ups.
Lack of Dental Care
Just like in humans, if we don’t regularly brush our pet’s teeth and provide them with a method of teeth cleaning, for example, chews, toys, etc., then this will also put them at a higher risk of dental disease. It is important to establish a dental care routine for your pet from a young age. Regular teeth brushing, dental chews, and dental toys are all effective methods of dental care.
Research has shown that soft feed diets, when compared to hard kibble diets in our dogs, can increase the risk of dental disease occurring. Therefore, it is important to consider the diet of your pet. Moving your dog or cat onto a hard feed diet may help to prevent dental disease in the long term.
In conclusion, dental disease is a common condition in our pets that can lead to significant health effects if left untreated. While some risk factors cannot be prevented, such as genetics, there are many preventative measures that can be taken to reduce the risk of dental disease. Establishing a dental care routine for your pet from a young age, considering their diet, and regular dental check-ups are all effective methods of prevention.
As a veterinary professional, I highly recommend regular teeth brushing as one of the most effective prevention methods for dental disease in pets. While it may not be possible for all pets, brushing your pet’s teeth regularly can help prevent the accumulation of plaque and tartar, which are the primary causes of dental disease.
To brush your pet’s teeth effectively, you can use a soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste specifically formulated for pets. It’s important to introduce teeth brushing gradually, starting with short sessions and rewarding your pet with treats and praise.
For more information on how to brush your dog’s teeth appropriately, please see my other blog post on Tips For Brushing Your Dog’s Teeth At Home.
Dental Chews and Toys
For pets who may not tolerate teeth brushing, dental chews and toys can be an effective alternative. These products are designed to help remove plaque and tartar from your pet’s teeth while they chew or play.
When selecting dental chews and toys, it’s important to choose products that are appropriate for your pet’s size and chewing habits. You should also look for products that have been approved by veterinary professionals and are made from high-quality materials.
Dietary Dental Supplements
Another effective prevention method for dental disease in pets is the use of dental supplements. One such supplement that I highly recommend is ProDen PlaqueOff Powder. This entirely natural seaweed product provides a non-invasive way to prevent dental disease in pets.
ProDen PlaqueOff Powder is available for both dogs and cats and can be easily added to your pet’s food. This supplement helps to break down the biofilm that forms on your pet’s teeth, preventing the accumulation of plaque and tartar.
In conclusion, regular teeth brushing, dental chews and toys, and dietary dental supplements are all effective prevention methods for dental disease in pets. By implementing these methods, you can help ensure that your pet’s dental health is maintained and their quality of life is optimized.
Scale and Polish
One of the treatment methods for dental disease in pets is a scale and polish. This is a non-invasive procedure that involves removing plaque and tartar build-up from the teeth. The procedure is performed under general anaesthesia and involves using special dental instruments to scrape away the build-up from the teeth. Once the teeth are cleaned, they are polished to remove any remaining bacteria and to smooth out the tooth surface.
A scale and polish is a common treatment for mild to moderate cases of dental disease. It is a relatively quick procedure and most pets recover quickly from the anaesthesia. However, it is important to note that a scale and polish is not a permanent solution and regular dental care is still required to prevent further build-up.
In more severe cases of dental disease, dental surgery may be required. This can involve teeth extractions, root canal treatment, or gum surgery. Dental surgery is a more invasive procedure than a scale and polish and is performed under general anaesthesia.
Teeth extractions may be necessary if a tooth is severely damaged or infected. Root canal treatment can be performed on a tooth that has a damaged nerve, while gum surgery can be used to treat advanced cases of gum disease.
Dental surgery is a more complex and costly procedure than a scale and polish. It also carries more risks due to the general anaesthesia. However, in some cases, it may be the only option to prevent further pain and discomfort for the pet.
It is important to note that dental surgery is not a substitute for regular dental care. Prevention is key to maintaining good dental health in pets, and regular dental check-ups and cleaning are essential to prevent the need for more invasive treatments.
In conclusion, dental disease is a common problem that affects the oral cavity of our pets, especially our older dogs. As pet owners, it is important to understand the signs of dental disease and take measures to prevent it from occurring in the first place.
Regular teeth brushing, dental chews, dental toys, and supplements such as Prodent PlaqueOff Powder can help prevent dental disease. These prevention methods are non-invasive and can be easily implemented into our pets’ daily routines.
If dental disease does occur, treatment methods such as scale and polish or dental surgery may be necessary. However, these methods are more invasive and require a general anaesthetic, which poses additional risks.
Overall, prevention is key when it comes to dental disease in our pets. By taking steps to prevent dental disease, we can improve the welfare and quality of life for our small animal pets.
Being a 5th year Vet student and having a passion for improving the health and welfare of all animals, I am providing AblePaws.co.uk with a veterinary perspective / insight into the real word applications, including strengths and limitations of the products it reviews. This will allow you to make an informed decision as to the suitability of the pet products reviewed on the site to keep your pet mobile, comfortable and full of life!