Why might my pet have bad breath?
Both dogs and cats can suffer from halitosis (bad breath) for a number of reasons. Sometimes it can indicate a underlying medical disease, but most often it is due to plaque and tartar building up in your pet's mouth. The smell is a sign of accumulating deposits on the surface of the teeth; this can eventually lead to gum disease, a serious and potentially very painful condition.
What signs should I be watching for at home?
Unfortunately our pets do not show the same signs of pain as us; they often show more subtle behavioural signs which can be easily missed. The first signs of dental disease include:
1. A reluctance to eat biscuits and a preference for soft, wet food
2. Chewing preferentially on one side of his/her mouth
3. Dropping small amounts of food from his/her mouth when chewing
4. Initial interest in food at meal times but subsequent avoidance behaviour
5. Bad breath
6. In the later stages, your pet will often go completely off his/her food
Noticing any of the above signs in your pet should prompt a trip to the vets before it progresses.
How will we know if your pet has a dental problem?
Regular checks by your vet or vet nurse as well as close monitoring by yourself can detect potential problems before they become serious (and expensive to treat!) We will check for:
1. Halitosis (bad breath)
2. Accumulation of brown/yellow tartar on the tooth surface
3. Bleeding gums
4. Gingivitis (gum inflammation) and gum recession
5. Fractured teeth
6. Tooth root infection
7. Facial swelling
What are the treatment options for my pet?
It is important to discuss with your vet as to which treatment will be most effective, as often it will depend on the severity of dental disease present. We will help you decide between:
1. A dental care routine carried out at home. This will involve a combination of: daily tooth brushing (be sure to use a veterinary toothpaste as some human toothpastes contain an ingredient toxic to pets!); water or food additives to prevent further plaque build-up on the teeth; Dentistix; and the introduction of 'dental-friendly' toys and chews over stones and tennis balls!
2. A timely scale and polish under general anaesthetic can help eradicate smelly breath in younger animals and decrease the chance of extractions being required later in life. 3. In more advanced cases, a dental procedure will be performed at the practice under general anaesthetic. We will clean all of your pets' teeth with an ultrasonic scaler and extract those that are causing a problem. Dogs and cats manage very well without their full set of teeth; far better than when infected, painful teeth are left in place.
We understand that a lot of pets are old or geriatric by the time they require a dental. Rest assured that we will take various precautions to minimise the anaesthetic risk in these patients.
To find out more, why not book an appointment for a free nurse clinic? One of our nurses will be happy to advise you more specifically on your pet's dental health and hygiene. If they are concerned about your pet’s dental health, you may be advised to arrange an appointment to see a vet.
In addition, any dental work booked within 30 days of your vets consultation will be carried out with a 10% discount from the original cost. A healthy dog’s mouth, little tartar is present and the gum line is pale pink and flush with the base of the teeth.
A healthy dog’s mouth with some tartar build-up around the base of the teeth (especially the canine and third incisor). Here the gum line is still pale pink and flush with the base of the teeth. If left, the tartar will continue to build up causing gum disease and gum recession, exposing the roots of the affected teeth. This is an example of a mouth where a timely scale and polish can halt dental disease progression, especially if followed up with home care. A dog’s mouth where the tartar has been removed allowing us to see the true extent of the dental disease. Here you can clearly see that the roots of some of the teeth have been exposed due to the build up of tartar causing the gums to recede. The gum line is also inflamed. These teeth were unstable and painful and were therefore extracted. After surgery, she recovered well, with a fresh smelling mouth and, most importantly, was very quickly pain free.