Brush up on good health

The dental health of your family doesn't stop with the human members - you have to care for your dogs and cats' oral health too.

It's not just people who should 'brush up' for the sake of good health. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats already have signs of oral disease by age three. "Oral disease is painful and potentially life-threatening," says veterinarian Dr Guy Fyvie, spokesman for Hill's Pet Dental Month, "yet it can be prevented with a simple pet dental routine."

Oral disease is caused by a build up of plaque, says Fyvie. "If it is not removed, either by brushing the pet's teeth or feeding special oral care foods, plaque can cause irritation and gum disease.

"If your pet has discoloured teeth, smelly breath, tender and bleeding gums, pain, tooth decay and/or tooth loss they may already have oral disease. It is important to act quickly as the bacteria and toxins in an infected mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect vital organs, causing serious illnesses such as heart and kidney disease."

Fyvie recommends following the American Veterinary Dental Society three step plan to ensure your pet's dental health and overall well-being:

1. Visit your pet's dentist (the vet) for a dental exam. Don't wait for the annual check-up if you suspect a problem. Check your pet's mouth and teeth regularly.

2. Start a dental care regime at home. Your vet can advise on the most suitable methods for your pet, which may involve brushing its teeth. One of the most convenient and effective ways to combat oral disease is feeding a specially formulated food clinically proven to be effective in combating plaque and tartar build-up.

3. Schedule regular veterinary check ups. These are essential in helping your vet monitor the progress of your pet's dental health routine.

"All pets are at risk for developing dental problems, start a preventative programme of dental care today to maintain good oral health throughout your pet's life," Fyvie says.

Symptoms of oral disease

  • Bad breath
  • A yellow brown crust of tartar on teeth
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Pain or bleeding when you touch the gums or mouth
  • A change in eating or chewing habits
  • Abnormal drooling
  • Tooth loss
  • Going to the food bowl but not eating
  • Swallowing food whole instead of chewing
  • Dropping food out of the mouth
  • Pawing at the face or mouth
  • Listlessness or subdued behaviour
  • If your pet shows any of these symptoms take them to the vet for expert advice.

For more information visit or call the Hill’s Pet Nutrition Careline toll-free on (0800) 228 783.

- Information supplied by Hill's Pet Nutrition

Read more:
Toothy problems for pets
Your pet's health

- (Last updated: June 2010)

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