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June sees the return of dental health month at Moss Veterinary Hospital and this month’s newsletter would like to address the widespread problem of periodontal disease in our pets. Periodontal disease is a common condition within the pet community and unfortunately tends to go unnoticed until the disease has progressed so much that our beloved pets are often in agony as a result of dental pain.
Periodontal disease is the inflammation of the soft tissues and surrounding bony attachment of the teeth and often gradually progresses to disease affecting the tooth itself. The main cause of periodontal disease in dogs and cat is generally a combination of diet and lack of cleaning; as one can imagine what our own teeth would look like if we never brushed or attended a dentist for a few
years. Approximately 80% of dogs and cats over the age of three years have some degree of dental disease that requires treatment. The condition begins with the formation of plaque on the surface of the tooth.

Plaque is a film bacteria and salivary mycoproteins that adhere to the teeth. Over time, this plaque becomes mineralised to form calculus (tartar), which is a hardened, yellow to brown coating that can often be seen firmly attached to and extending from the base of the teeth.

Signs that your pet may have dental disease include:

  • Bad breath (halitosis) – one of the first signs of dental disease. And NO!! Your dog’s breath is not supposed to smell that way.
  • A yellowish-brown crust of plaque on the teeth near the gum line.
  • Red and swollen gums.

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  • Pain or bleeding when your pet eats or when the mouth or gums are touched.
  • Decreased appetite or difficulty eating, especially hard food or may only like to chew on one side of the mouth.
  • Loose or missing teeth.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Tartar covered teeth in a dog

Treatment of dental disease
The first step is education about the signs of dental disease and regularly checking your pets teeth will help to identify problems and take steps to halt the deterioration of the condition. Once significant dental disease is established, the only way to effectively treat the condition is through a professional dental cleaning and subsequent home preventative dental care. Dental cleaning is performed under general anaesthetic and employs the use of an ultrasonic scaler to efficiently and effectively remove plaque and calculus from the teeth. The teeth are then polished to provide a nice smooth finish.

Preventative dental care
Home dental care is essential for all dogs and cats to help keep their teeth in top condition. Tips for healthy pet dental care:

  • Daily brushing : For many, this may seem a strange notion but it is by far the BEST way to help to keep the teeth free of food and other particulate matter that introduces bacteria around the teeth and gums. This does not need to be a long, tedious or difficult process if it is introduced when animals are young and associated with some form of reward. Veterinary dental pastes are also available and NEVER brush your animal’s teeth with human toothpaste.
  • Brushing dog's teeth

    Brushing dog’s teeth

    Food selection: Animals with a diet composed primarily of tinned/wet foods or human scraps are much more likely to develop early dental disease. A dry food diet results in improved gingival health.

  • Appropriate chew toys also go a long way in helping to keep the teeth clean in dogs.

 

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Special Mention
Certain forms of dental disease (particularly in cats) may be associated with specific types of illnesses such as viral infections and various auto-immune conditions. Your veterinarian will be able provide more detailed information in this regard as it pertains to your pet.

And not to forget our small furry friends that have unique and sometimes challenging dental issues of their own. Rabbits and rodents have teeth that grow continually throughout their lifetime and need to be worn down with continuous chewing; as such they are prone to overgrowth and this is especially the case when these pets are kept on inappropriate diets.

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For the month of December, Moss Veterinary Hospital will be offering free dental checkups with a veterinary nurse and special discounted rates on dental scaling and polishing.

For more information on this topic and feel free to contact us for information on discounted rates.

Special rates for March 2016: Dental Scale and Polish

Small Dogs (<10Kg) and Cats: €100
Medium Dogs (10-20Kg): €110
Large Dogs (>20Kg): €120

Terms and conditions apply, please contact us in clinic for details