Your pet’s mouth does many jobs, from eating and exploring to catching and carrying, so its teeth and gums will show wear and tear. If your pet will let you, brushing its teeth with pet-friendly toothpaste and a small, soft toothbrush can make a real difference. Starting while it is a puppy or kitten makes the routine less stressful. As your pet matures, the right diet plays a vital role in the health of its teeth and gums.
What are the dangers of dental disease?
Dental problems make eating uncomfortable and poor oral hygiene can affect your pet’s health. If harmful oral bacteria reach the bloodstream, they may damage your pet’s kidneys, heart and other organs.
How do dental problems occur?
Every time your pet eats, a combination of bacteria, food and saliva in the mouth kickstarts the production of plaque. Over time, plaque builds up on your pet’s teeth and gums, turning into tartar. Too much tartar can lead to problems such as gum disease, receding gums and dental abscesses. Some flat-faced cats are more vulnerable to dental disease because their closely spaced teeth can be harder to keep clean.
What are the symptoms?
Signs include bad breath, drooling, discoloured teeth and pale, swollen or bleeding gums. Chewing can be difficult so your pet may avoid eating, and cats with sore mouths tend to be less willing to groom themselves. If you spot anything that suggests your pet could be suffering from dental pain, always contact your vet.
How can diet help?
Pets that eat dry food are less likely to suffer from dental disease in adulthood because the hard texture of the kibble helps to remove tartar and prevents food and bacteria gathering around the gumline.
Some specialist dental diets contain carefully shaped pieces of kibble as well as extra fibre, to clean the teeth more thoroughly as your pet chews. Other advanced nutrition diets contain nutrients that help limit the production of tartar by trapping calcium in your pet’s saliva. You can also add plaque-removing powder, made from natural seaweed extract, to your pet’s meals.
Try to avoid feeding your pet sugary or starchy treats, which encourage bacteria growth in plaque; acid is released that can cause teeth to decay. Finally, it’s essential to take your pet to the vet for regular dental checks.
Something to smile about
Pets at Home is the UK's largest pet supplies store. From tooth-friendly toys to tailored food and in-store veterinary clinics, it's the perfect place to start in keeping your pet's teeth tip-top.
Free pet food consultations are available at your nearest Pets at Home store – or ask in store.