Mind your pet’s mouth for total health

2015-08-27 06:00

DENTAL disease is extremely common in pets, with around 80% of cats and dogs affected by the age of four. It’s potentially life-threatening, as well as causing bad breath, bleeding gums, tooth loss and pain. “Bacteria and toxins in an infected mouth can enter the bloodstream, affecting vital organs and causing illnesses including heart and kidney disease,” explains Dr Guy Fyvie, veterinary advisor for Hill’s Pet Nutrition.

Problems usually start with a build-up of plaque that hardens to form tartar. This can lead to gingivitis, an inflammation of the gums. If not treated, periodontal disease can develop, destroying gums and tissue surrounding the teeth.

Dr Fyvie suggests five simple steps to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.

• Take your dog to the vet for a dental check at least once a year, or whenever you notice any symptoms, such as bad breath, bleeding gums, discoloured teeth or drooling.

• Regular tooth brushing to remove plaque is recommended as the “gold standard” using a pet toothpaste and soft brush. It’s not always easy to accomplish, particularly in older pets, so it is best to start regular tooth cleaning from a young age.

• Feed a food clinically proven to help clean your pet’s teeth as it eats, Hills Science Plan Oral Care and Hills’ Prescription Diet® are the only complete foods in South Africa that have been awarded the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance for plaque and tartar control. The kibbles have a patented fibre matrix that works like an edible toothbrush as your pet eats, gently scrubbing the exposed tooth and cleaning away plaque, thus avoiding tartar build-up.

• Avoid sticky sweets, treats or tidbits which can lead to a more rapid build-up of plaque.

• Use tooth-friendly toys and chews – bones and even hard plastic Frisbees can damage teeth. – Supplied.

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