Fullarton Vet Clinic
210 Glen Osmond Road
FULLARTON SA 5063
t : 08-8379 9647
Cross Road Vet Clinic
181 Cross Road
WESTBOURNE PARK 5042
t : 08-8373 1699
Before we domesticated the family dog and cat they were hunting animals. Tearing at carcasses no doubt kept their teeth cleaner than tinned food and crunchies do today. Dental problems in pets are most typically seen as dental plaque, tartar and gum inflammation which is known as gingivitis.
Plaque and Tartar
Animals can't clean teeth like we can and so plaque gradually begins to form on the sides of the teeth. It's a mixture of minerals and salts from the saliva glands, food particles and bacteria. The problem is that once it starts it's away and new plaque builds up on old. Soon enough there can be a yellow grey look and furry feel to the sides of teeth and tartar builds up.
Before you see it though you usually smell it, a friendly lick becomes no fun at all. The bacteria love growing in plaque and as the tartar pushes back the gum, infection sets in between the teeth and gums.
The reddening, swelling and infection of the gums is gingivitis. It's not just the smell that's the problem, the gums retract and cause pain and infection which will cause problems with eating, tooth decay and if things get worse, no teeth at all.
What can the vet do?
Unfortunately pets are not good at sitting still with mouth open, that's why an anaesthetic is needed to have the job done properly. All tartar can be cleaned off using instruments similar to the dentists and teeth which are badly affected can be removed. Your pet might need a short course of antibiotics to control infection.
What can you do?
If any teeth have been removed think of it as as your mouth. It's best not to feed food that might get stuck in sockets... so no mince or canned food for a couple of days. Chopped meat or dry food is better.
Whether you're starting afresh or from scratch there's a few things you can do to reduce the problem. Try to encourage chewing to keep the teeth clean. Strips of raw meat flaps, hard biscuits, and raw bones help keep teeth cleaner.
If you are really keen you might buy "Fido" his/her own Oral-B and give the teeth a clean on a regular basis.