Although often overlooked by pet owners, your pet’s dental health is an important part of your pet’s overall health. Dental problems can not only be caused by, but also lead to, more serious health concerns and should therefore never be ignored.
The mouth is the perfect breeding ground for bacterial and organism growth, due to its warm, moist nature and the fact that nutrients are present here. While most are considered normal they can lead to plaque and tartar build up, which upsets the normal microbial flora balance and can lead to concerning dental issues.
Here are some tips to maintaining good pet oral health:
Perform regular home checks of your pet’s teeth and gums and seek immediate help if you notice any of the following:
broken or loose teeth
extra teeth or baby teeth that have not fallen out as they should
discolouration of teeth or tartar build up
abnormal chewing, drooling or continual dropping of food from the mouth
reduced appetite or refusal to eat
pain in or around the mouth
bleeding in the mouth
swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth
Keep up to date with your annual veterinary check-ups, as this gives the vet the opportunity to do a more thorough dental exam, at least once a year
Consider making use of veterinary dentistry, as and when recommended by your vet
Take preventative measures, to promote healthy gums and teeth:
Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth with a pet appropriate “tooth paste” (never use human variations) – there are many resources available to assist in training your pets to accept brushing – search online but only use those that promote positive training methods
Allow your vet to perform dental cleaning as needed
As with humans, a well-balanced diet is the start of good oral hygiene. All products, diets and treats that claim to have dental cleaning qualities, sold in the market by PFI (Pet Food Industry Association of Southern Africa) members who are committed to your pet’s overall health and wellbeing, will be registered under Act 36. This means that the products will have been screened by the Act 36 Technical Advisor to ensure the validity of the cleaning claims. If you still have concerns, check this with your veterinarian.
Games and chew toys that stimulate mechanical action of the mouth or on the teeth will also aid in cleaning the teeth.
Remember that a pet in pain may be inclined to bite, so do take care when dealing with the mouth area. It is for this same reason that anaesthesia will be needed if your vet is required to perform some dental procedures.