Dental disease is the single most prevalent disease affecting the pets of the Mornington Peninsula. It can and does have devastating effects on the health of your pet. What starts as bad breath and plaque on a few teeth can rapidly progress to calculus build up. Calculus is a solid mix of concrete-like tartar populated with bacteria. The bacterial infection causes the gums and periodontal tissues to be eroded. This exposes the sensitive roots of the tooth and leads to teeth becoming rotten and falling out. The infection makes the pet feel unwell. Eating is painful. The constant fight against disease stresses and weakens the immune system and causes pain and inflammation. The chronic drain on energy and nutrients often causes weight loss and disease in other parts of the body.
We know that commercial diets do not do enough to provide adequate dental health care for your pet’s mouth. If you feed nothing but kibble or tinned food, you may as well book in for major dental treatments every 12-24 months for the life of your pet. This can become very expensive and although very safe, performing a yearly anaesthetic and dental is not without some risks. Once teeth start being lost (either falling out or being removed), the mouth loses its occlusive design and self-cleaning ability. Further extractions are often required and this leads to the inevitable spiralling of disease.
The only way to prevent your pet suffering from serious dental disease is to feed a natural diet with a large proportion of raw meat chunks and soft raw bones. These ingredients cause the teeth to chew through tough material. This chewing action physically scrapes the plaque and tartar off the tooth, much like a dental drill.
So What Do We Recommend?
To maintain good dental health in our pets our Mt Martha vet clinic team recommend:
1. Soft, edible bones such as chicken necks (small dogs and cats), chicken frames and turkey wings (bigger dogs). These bones are eaten entirely providing nutrition as well as dental hygiene. Chicken frames are often chewed with the whole mouth, working the front teeth as well as the back.
2. Larger recreational bones such as the knuckle part of marrow-bones, brisket bones or rib flaps. These bones are chewed for hours but not always consumed, providing good chewing exercise for the mouth. You can purchase fresh lamb bones from our clinic which suit dogs of all sizes.
3. Chunks or cubes of raw meat, particularly tougher meats with plenty of connective tissue such as lamb hearts or gravy beef. These are great for cats, especially those not used to chewing bones and resistant to changes in their diet.
4. Dried kangaroo tendons provide a safe and natural dental chew. The sinew softens as they are worked on and these can act as dental floss between the teeth. We provide dried kangaroo tendons at our clinic and many of our patients enjoy these several times through the week.
1. Brushing your pet’s teeth with a pet or baby’s toothbrush and pet friendly toothpaste is a great way to remove plaque and tartar. However it needs to be done regularly to be effective. Once a week will not be enough to keep the tartar at bay. Make this a game and fun by keeping those really tasty treats aside for only tooth-brushing times. If tooth-brushing = cooked sausage then tooth-brushing becomes fun!
2. Prescription dry food dental diets are an alternative if your pet will not eat the above natural suggestions.
3. Healthy mouth is a product that can be added to drinking water to prevent plaque forming on the teeth. Plaque is the first step in dental disease. This works best as a preventative but can also be helpful when treating mouth infections or as preparation before a dental procedure.