Let’s talk about teeth!
One of the best ways to keep your pet well and healthy is to care for their teeth. Do you know what your pet’s mouth looks like? Take a good look, including right up into the back of their mouth.
This photo is of my dog Ash and her mouth. This is what your dog’s teeth should look like. No tartar, no gingivitis, no smell.
Now the three reasons that Ash has a healthy mouth are;
1. Her age: Ash is only 2.5 years old. Her mouth has less wear and tear and areas for bacteria to take hold. (this is not under my control)
2. Her genetic design: Ash has well-spaced teeth that align well. This allows natural self-cleaning of teeth as she chews (also not under my control)
3. Her diet: Ash is fed a fresh food diet that is high in meat and vegetables. It is also low in processed carbohydrates (this one is under my control!)
Unfortunately you have no control over your dog’s age and once you have chosen your dog, their breed is not able to be influenced either. It is important to know that some breeds of dog have far higher potential to have severe dental disease than others. The breeds who take up most of our dentistry bookings include the brachycephalic breeds whose teeth do not line up well at all (these are the Pugs, Cavaliers, Bulldogs), small and toy breeds of dog (these are the Maltese, Shih tzus and toy Poodles), and strangely, dogs with long hair around their mouths (Schnauzers and the many and various -oodles).
Before settling on a breed, it may be worth considering the financial impact of regular dentistry prevention and treatment. Pet insurance companies rarely cover pet dentistry fees and so this cost will come out of your pocket. In predisposed breeds, the cost can be significant over the lifetime of your pet.
If you do share your home with one of these breeds, it may be that a fresh food diet alone is not enough to protect their teeth. You can expect dogs of these breeds to start needing professional cleaning under anaesthesia from around four years of age. Alarmed at the prospect of repeat anaesthetics to clean their teeth? Try the following good hygiene steps to prolong the time before needing a professional clean;
- Feed raw meaty bones that encourage your dog to exercise the jaw and chew through meat, tendons, ligaments and soft bone. My favourites are chicken frames and lamb’s necks depending on the size of your dog.
- Feed Oravet dental chews daily – these chews have the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) tick of approval.
- Brush your dog’s teeth with a toddler’s toothbrush and a pet toothpaste.
- Add Simply Seaweed to their food daily. Ascophyllum nodosum (a kelp food additive) is proven to reduce plaque and soften tartar.
- Feed a low processed, fresh-food diet with vegetable fibers and probiotic support to encourage a healthy and diverse microflora in your pet’s digestive system, including their mouth.
If you would like to learn how to best protect your pet’s teeth, or would like to know if your pet needs dental treatment, book in for a consultation with one of our vets. Dental disease is a serious health problem and can dramatically impact your pet’s wellbeing.
Await my next blog with information on your pet undergoing dentistry treatment and anaesthesia-free tooth cleaning (and why we don’t recommend it!).