Did you know that our principal dentist Dr Claire Wilson has a gorgeous Dalmatian called Archer? Sarah, our dental nurse and assistant on Saturdays has an adorable cat called Broadi who she rescued as a kitten when she found it alone and flea-ridden. In fact, our whole team have grown up with and love animals of all shapes and sizes. We also enjoy hearing about our patients pets too! But did you also know that your pets can get dental problems of their very own?
This inspired us to be proactive in learning about how to care for the pearly whites of our four legged companions. To help educate us about exactly what we should (or shouldn’t) be doing, we’ve recently teamed up with local veterinarian Dr Cameron Wilson from the lovely group at Alphington & Fairfield Vet and Hawthorn East Vet to learn more about dental health for your beloved furry friends at home.
Thanks for helping us out Cameron! What inspired you to become a vet in the first place?
I have always been an animal lover and combined with a curiosity about medicine becoming a vet seemed like a good fit.
Most of us know that sugary foods aren’t good for our teeth. What common foods should cats and dogs avoid to keep their mouths and teeth healthy?
It is commonly recommened that bones are good to keep teeth clean but you need to ensure that you are choosing the correct types of bones. Large hard marrow bones can actually cause dental wear and sometimes even cause teeth to break. New reseach also suggests that raw chicken such as chicken necks may have links to a neurological condition called polyradiculoneuritis. Therefore it is important to discuss with your vet what bone is best for your size dog or cat.
Foods that are high in sugars (fruits, cheese etc) are also likely to lead to decay as well. Dogs and cats that are fed an enitrely wet diet are also more prone to developing plaque and tartar build-up as wet foods do not provide any mechanical cleaning of teeth like dry food does.
What can happen to the mouths or teeth of our pets if they aren’t looked after? Does this affect the animals wellbeing?
If your furry friends’ teeth are not looked after they can have plaque and tartar build up on their teeth and gum line. This in turn can lead to gingivits and tooth decay. This can progress abcess or osteomyelitis (infection of the bone) in severe cases. Such conditions are painful can can affect other body systems as well. Furthermore, if one tooth is affected its put other teeth at risk also.
Cats in particular have issues with lesions called “oral resportive lesions” which are lesions where the teeth have irriversible decay. Unfortunately we still do not know how they form, but is more often seen in cats with plaque and gingivitis
So, what can pet owners do to care for their pets teeth to stop this from happening?
There is a lot that can be done at home! The gold standard just like in people is brushing. There are dog and cat specific toothbrushes and toothpastes available often with flavors they will love such as chicken and beef. Not every cat or dog will allow brushing so we generally recommend first getting them used to having their mouth and teeth touched before commencing with pastes and brushes.
Special dental diets have been designed too such as Hill’s T/d or Royal Canin Oral Care which have kibble designed to clean the teeth while your furry friend munches away. Add to this an array of dental treats such as greenies, oravet chews, dentastix and bones. There is now even mouth wash for dogs and cats!
Not all plaque can be cleaned off with treats and bones though and sometimes veterinarians need to step in and clean the teeth with very much the same equipment as a human dentist. If you see brown, green or yellow discoloration of the teeth, red inflamed gums or your buddy has bad breath it is best to get them checked by a vet to see if any veterinary intervention or treatment is needed. We offer free dental checks at our clinic and can direct you at what preventative regime is best or if we need to perform dental work.
Appointments can be made by giving us a call (03) 94823500 or booking online at our website www.afvet.com.au