Why is it important to care for my pet’s teeth and where do I start?

A demonstration of teeth cleaning

As advocates for preventative pet care, we aim to raise awareness of the severe problems poor dental hygiene can cause your pet. It may shock you to know that 80% of dogs and cats over the age of 3 years suffer from dental disease!

Why should I brush my pet’s teeth?

In all my time as a consulting veterinarian, we have never seemed to get to the root of the problem, brushing our pet’s teeth daily. We would not dream of abandoning our own toothbrush for a day, let alone a lifetime. So why don’t we set aside a few minutes a day for our family members with fur?

We see the same problem on so many occasions, an older pet needing an anaesthetic and a considerable amount of teeth removed. A poor, worried family and a forlorn much-loved pet with a mouth full of painful dental decay and gum disease. Bacteria in plaque and tartar cause sore gums, smelly breath and lead to tooth loss. On entering the bloodstream it can even cause organ damage! 

A recent study by the WSAVA estimated the risk of endocarditis to be around six times higher in dogs with moderate to severe dental disease in comparison to dogs without it. Dental disease can also complicate diabetes, and even lead to broken jaws (weakened by infection) in smaller breed dogs and cats. 

The PDSA shows just how the problem develops with this great image from their website (www.pdsa.org.uk)

The progression of dental disease

Life is busy, it may feel as though we cannot fit another job on our to-do list. But, we hope to show you it really doesn’t take up too much time. Once in a routine, it takes a matter of minutes. You can even get the family involved. We can prevent this, with daily brushing and a monitoring exam from your veterinarian or veterinary nurse, so let’s get started!

Get the family involved!

How will I know if my pet has dental problems and what should I do?

As we know, our pets are masters at hiding pain, especially our cats. Despite being a cat only vet practice we missed the early stages of our own cat’s dental disease. You can read Marmalade’s story by following the link.

Signs your pet may have dental problems include;
  • Drooling
  • Bad Breath
  • Pain when eating or eating less
  • Weightloss
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Bleeding gums
  • Cats not grooming
  • Unusual grumpiness when handling the head area

If you do have any concerns you should always consult your veterinarian first.

Feline dental checks are important!

When should I start brushing my pet’s teeth and where do I begin?

There is no time like the present! Start your puppy or kitten while they are young. This allows you both to build a routine. Yes, they will lose their baby teeth but by the time their adult teeth are here, you will have a tip-top tooth brushing routine in place to protect them. For older pets, you may need a vet check first and certainly if there is any sign of pain or problems.

During our #petstoreodentalchallenge we used our wealth of experience and knowledge to create a series of short video tutorials for our Facebook page. These can easily be found by searching the hashtag #petstoreodentalchallenge or browsing our stream. We will be adding them to our YouTube channel in the future too.

Here is a quick video of Oliver demonstrating how to start brushing your puppy’s teeth, along with a visual guide from Walthams which you may find helpful.

We also have a video of Sarah showing how to clean your cat’s teeth and a written guide from the VCA hospital.

Our complete dental care kit contains everything you need, follow the link to take a look via our online store.

Remember, we cannot use human toothpaste as fluoride is harmful to our pets!

Keep it Super Simple

We are currently developing our exciting KISSCatCare and KISSDogCare preventative health schemes. KEEP IT SUPER SIMPLE –  a monthly weigh-in, exam and photo of your pet’s teeth all carried out by you at home with our help. Stay tuned for more details soon!