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Looking after your pets’ teeth is just as important as looking after your own and yet many pet owners neglect this essential part of their pets health. This month we are going to look again at dental care and why it is so important.

As humans we are able to brush our teeth as often as we like. We know that by doing this we are removing bacteria that can build up on the teeth causing tooth decay and gum disease.   

The same thing applies to your pets teeth but because most of us don’t brush our dogs teeth bacteria is always present.

How tartar builds up:

When bacteria dies it becomes calcified and forms a hard substance called tartar or calculus on the teeth.

Once this foundation has been laid down calculus can continue to build up on itself eventually forming a hard covering on the teeth. It pushes the gum away from the tooth opening up areas for infection:

This results in:

gingivitis – inflammation of the gums

The gums look very red and bleed easily. As the gum becomes infected and inflamed it loses its ability to protect the tooth. This exposes the root cavity to more infection. Eventually the tissue surrounding the tooth is destroyed and the bony socket holding the tooth erodes away, teeth can become loose or can even become ankalosed – fixed in a bony mass.

Dental disease can have serious side effects on your pets’ health,  the presence of bacteria can lead to systemic infection causing:

  • lack of appetite –reluctance to eat
  • general ill health
  • heart problems – bacterial endocarditis


Your pet can have severe dental problems and appear to show no symptoms. The amount of dental pain an animal suffers is not fully understood but your pets’ health will still be affected.

What can you do?

Although there are finger toothbrushes and special toothpastes available we don’t expect everyone to suddenly start brushing their pets teeth! However, there are lots of things that can improve your pets dental hygiene.

  1. i) chews and pellets can help to remove tartar. There are even dental chews available designed to do this
  2. ii) get your vet to check your pets teeth even if you are going to visit for something else.
  3. ii) be aware- if you notice your pet has bad breath , salivates more or doesn’t seem to be so keen to eat.


NB : Cats can be particularly intolerant to teeth brushing and suspicious of dental treats!

What can we do?

The Vet will normally check your pet

thoroughly when you visit for your pets

annual booster vaccination. This is often

the time we pick up problems that the owner may not be aware of, depending on the severity of the problem we can do various procedures :

Dental Scale and Polish

If there is just a build-up of tartar on the teeth we can clean and polish them. Just the same as a your visit to the dental hygienist!


Teeth that have been compromised can be extracted and your pet will be treated with antibiotics if necessary.

In severe cases a patient may need to be referred to a dental specialist.

It is important to note that almost all dental procedures are performed under general anaesthetic.

So keep your pets’ mouth healthy  !


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