Tooth-decay on the increase amongst pets, say US researchers

Dogs and cats need regular dental care, say experts at the leading pet nutrition company, Iams.

Just like humans they can suffer from gum disease and broken teeth. Although the shape of their teethcombined with a low-carbyhydrate diet means they are unlikely to suffer from decay.

Owners are advised to get professional dental care for pet’s teetch, including regular brushing and cleaning and also toys to chew on.

Periodontal disease, which affects the gums, bones, and connective tissue around the teeth, can cause tooth loss. First, plaque—a soft, clear or cream-colored deposit—forms on the teeth. If it isn’t removed, minerals in the animal’s saliva turn plaque into tartar. Tartar builds up below the gums and bacteria grow, causing inflammation.

The same bacteria which cause the inflammation can enter your pet’s bloodstream and cause or aggravate lung, kidney, liver, and heart problems—a lot of trouble from something that could be stopped in its early stages.

Dental care for pets should be started when the animal is a puppy or kitten so that they become accustomed to having their mouths handled. It also helps with general training and obedience.

The right foods also assist in dental health. For example dry foods and treats help clean plaqye from the teeth and rawhide chews are also good cleaning tools, as are a number of knobby plastic toys on the market. None of these are hard enough to cause tooth damage, but you need to watch your pet to be sure small pieces of the toys aren’t torn off and swallowed. Real bones can also be dangerous for your pet and should not be used for teeth cleaning purposes.

Train pets to accept brushing by running a finger gently over the pet’s gums, starting with the outside then try inside as the animal gets used to the routine. Next try wrapping a finger with gauze and rubbing the gums and if this is successful use pet toothpaste. After a few weeks the pet should be willing to accept a pet toothbrush, which should be used with gentle upand down strokes, twice weekly.

If a pet won’t allow this then a vet should be consulted and he may consider using a general anaesthetic to enable the animals teeth to be cleaned.