Many cat and dog owners believe that their four-legged friend doesn’t have dental or teeth problems. They think that as long as he eats well, everything will be fine. However, this usually turns out not to be the case. That’s because four out of five dogs over the age of three suffer from dental diseases. And the situation doesn’t look good for cats either. Every second cat over the age of five is affected. That’s why it’s all the more important to devote careful attention to your pet’s .
The start of all dental problems is dental plaque. It builds up on the teeth day by day and contains all kinds of germs. If plaque isn’t removed, a mineral sediment forms, creating a hard crust known as tartar. The bacteria found in tartar cause swollen gums, before attacking the jaw and then spreading throughout the entire body. At the same time, the gums begin to recede, exposing the sensitive roots of the teeth. This can later lead to the teeth coming loose and falling out. And all of these processes involve pain – pain your cat or dog can’t show you until it’s too late to cure. It’s only at this point that they’ll no longer be able to eat so well or show a negative reaction when you stroke their face.
That’s why it’s vital that you take action at the first sign of any dental illness. Bad breath can often already be a sign of problems. You should take action at the very latest when yellow-brown plaque or tartar appears around the edges of individual teeth. If the gums become red or bloody, or if the roots of the teeth are exposed, you can assume that your dog or cat has been suffering with toothache for a while, that there is a threat of permanent damage to the teeth and the jaw, and that your pet’s body is already suffering from an influx of bacteria. The only thing that can help now is a visit to the vet with a thorough examination and extensive treatment, possibly involving a general anaesthetic.
Once you realise that dental plaque is the beginning of this slippery slope, the solution to the problem becomes clear. The plaque must be removed before it hardens into tartar, which could cause lasting damage.
The most thorough method of removing plaque is to clean the teeth daily. Both dogs and cats usually get used to this fairly quickly. However, you should use special toothbrushes and toothpastes found in your pet supplies store for this purpose. Human toothpastes are a no-no as they can contain substances that are harmful for dogs and cats.
Dental care through healthy eating
Dental health can also be supported by your pet’s diet. With dogs, for example, chewing buffalo hide bone, ox pizzle or special chew sticks can promote the abrasion of dental plaque. Feeding your pet dry food can also help reduce the amount of food that gets caught between the teeth.
Some croquettes can support the mechanical abrasion of dental plaque due to their size and texture. This is because dogs and cats must chew the croquettes particularly thoroughly, and their teeth will crunch deeply into each one. Because head shapes vary greatly among dogs and cats, their jaws and teeth do too, which is why it makes sense that croquettes are perfectly suited the different sizes, breeds and ages of pets. You should take extra care with very small dogs in particular. Due to their extremely small jaws and their very tightly packed teeth, they are at a greater risk of dental illness.
Along with the shape, size and texture of the croquettes, special ingredients can also be beneficial. Sodium phosphates are one example. They act as “calcium catchers” and can also be found in human toothpaste. They combine active minerals from the saliva to ensure that less calcium can become deposited, which then prevents the creation of tartar.
As well as daily tooth care, an annual dental check-up from a vet is also recommended. This is because so many problems arise unseen and can only be recognised by a vet. Therefore, these annual dental checks are just as crucial for your pet’s health care as regular immunisations – and the two can be combined perfectly in one trip to the vet.
Call into your local store today to discuss your dogs personal needs with our Maxi Zoo Pet Experts.