Our team continues to be here for you and your cherished pets. We are OPEN and are now able to provide a wide range of services. To learn more about the changes we have implemented in response to COVID-19 and what to expect during your next visit, click here.

call icon
613.542.7337

Your Pet & Their Dental Health

Note: This post was authored by Dr. Jaime Lawless.

Stage 2 dental disease
Stage 2 dental disease

Have you noticed that your furry friend has more than just a little morning breath lately?  Bad breath is not only unpleasant, it can be a major clue that your pet has dental disease.

Did you know that periodontal disease is the #1 diagnosed problem in dogs and cats?  By age 3, 80 % of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of periodontal disease.

We all know that it is important to brush our own teeth regularly to prevent plaque buildup.  Plaque forms in only 6 to 8 hours and hardens into tartar within 3-5 days.  Tartar on the teeth above the gumline (where we can see it) can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis.  Periodontal disease is when tartar gets under the gumline and causes the gums to lift away from the teeth, allowing bacteria to get into the supporting structures around the tooth.

There is a strong association between oral health and general health.  When periodontal disease is present, bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect other organs including the heart, liver and kidneys.  The consequences of this bacterial showering can be grave.

So, the next question is – how do we PREVENT periodontal disease and all of the systemic diseases that can go along with it?

Brushing:

It is important to use a veterinary toothpaste, NOT a human toothpaste, as human toothpaste could cause stomach upset in dogs and cats.  Veterinary toothpaste also comes in flavours that are more appealing to our canine and feline friends, like chicken, beef and malt.

A soft bristled toothbrush should be used ; they are actually superior to finger cap toothbrushes for cleaning the teeth.  Using a 45 degree angle against the gumline, use a soft circular motion, mostly on the outside surfaces of the teeth.

It is important to note that brushing should be introduced gradually, with plenty of positive reinforcement so that your pet can become accustomed to it.  Brushing should be done, at minimum 3 times per week to make a difference- remember that plaque hardens to tartar within 3-5 days!  Daily brushing is the gold standard.

Chewing:

I hear this all the time – “my pet eats dry food so their teeth should be fine”.  This is a common MYTH! Regular dry food cannot reach plaque below the gumline.  Most of the kibbles are so small they barely have to be chewed, and they crumble into a billion little pieces once they are bitten.

Dental foods are really the way to go to prevent plaque buildup.  Look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval.  There are several dental foods available from your veterinary clinic for both dogs and cats.  Most of them are larger kibbles that tend not to crumble easily once chewed.

One of our preferred diets, Hill’s t/d Oral Health, has been clinically proven to reduce plaque by 39% in dogs and 58% in cats after a dental cleaning versus typical dry dog or cat food.

What about dental chews?  I always prefer dental food over chews for a few reasons.  With dental food, cats and dogs are cleaning their teeth every time they eat. Another benefit is that we don’t have to add any more calories to the diet.  Some of the dental chews are very calorie dense and contribute to obesity.  Lastly, many dental chews for dogs are just too hard and can cause tooth fractures.  The rule of thumb is that if you can’t indent it with your fingernail, or if it would hurt to hit yourself in the knee with it, don’t give it to your dog to chew.  Avoid bones, antlers, hooves, hard nylon bones, and ice cubes.  Tennis balls should also be avoided as they are very abrasive, almost like sandpaper on your dog’s teeth!

Your Veterinarian:

The most important part of your pet’s oral health is to have regular exams with your veterinarian so that problems can be identified and addressed promptly.  Your pet should have an oral health exam before starting an at home preventative care program.  Brushing could potentially be painful for animals who already have advanced periodontal disease.

Same mouth as before but now cleaned!
Same mouth as before but now cleaned!

Your veterinarian will examine the teeth and look for tartar, periodontal disease, loose teeth, discolored teeth, fractured teeth, masses in the oral cavity and malocclusion (misalignment).  He or she may recommend a dental procedure under general anesthesia.  This may include dental radiographs, a full oral exam including probing of all of the gums, ultrasonic and subgingival scaling, polishing, fluoride application, and extractions or other procedures as necessary.

Some signs of oral health problems to watch for include:

  • poor appetite or weight loss
  • bad breath
  • bleeding from the gums or mouth
  • swelling or pain around the mouth
  • discoloured teeth
  • difficulty chewing or drooling
  • broken or loose teeth
  • changes in behaviour – irritability, loss of interest in activities, being withdrawn

Often animals hide discomfort from dental disease so it is important to have regular visits with your veterinarian to keep your pet healthy and check for early signs of any dental problems. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, but we believe that oral health care should be a daily ritual for dogs and cats!

Written by Dr. Jaime Lawless

Category:

Blog

dog dental

What Is a Dental Nerve Block?

Have you been to the dentist and received local freezing? If so, then you have had a dental nerve block. Most dental procedures produce strong sensory stimuli to the point that it affects the amount of general anesthetic required and a painful recovery.

Read More
See All Articles

Last updated: July 23, 2020

Dear Clients,

With recent changes to restrictions on businesses, we can continue providing our full range of services, under certain restrictions. As our province enters the next phase of the reopening plan, we have some updates to share with you about our safety measures.

We are continuing to see all cases by appointment only including pets in need of vaccines, wellness exams, blood work, heartworm testing, spays and neuters, dental services, parasite prevention, and more.

Beginning June 22, 2020, clients are able to come into the hospital with their pets with the following restrictions:

SAFETY MEASURES TO KEEP EVERYONE SAFE

ONLINE CONSULTATIONS ARE AVAILABLE

If you wish to connect with a veterinarian via message, phone or video, visit our website and follow the "Online Consultation" link.

OPERATING HOURS

We are OPEN with the following hours:

Monday to Thursday: 8:00 am - 8:00 pm
Friday: 8:00 am - 6:00 pm
Saturday: 8:00 am - 2:00 pm


NEW PET OWNERS

Have you welcomed a new furry family member to your home? We’d love to meet them! Visit our Must Know New Pet Owner Information page for useful resources and helpful recommendations for new pet owners.

Thank you for your patience and understanding and we look forward to seeing you and your furry family members again!

- Your dedicated team at Kingston Veterinary Clinic