The health of our petsí teeth is in danger according to the leading veterinary charity, PDSA. The shock warning comes after a PDSA dental survey* revealed just how little UK pet owners really know about caring for their pet’s teeth.
PDSA survey shows:
• 60 per cent of owners thought it was natural for pets to lose their teeth as they get older.
• 71 per cent of pet owners thought the amount of pets affected by dental disease was 1 in 50.
Fact - PDSA vets advise:
•A pet’s teeth should last a lifetime if properly cared for.
• The true ‘scale’ of the problem is far worse. PDSA figures reveal that 1 in 5 dogs are affected by dental disease.
In light of the survey results, PDSA has updated its ‘Dental’ pet care leaflet to encourage more pet owners to carry out a regular dental care programme for their pets.
‘One in every 12 pets PDSA sees is treated for dental disease’, explains PDSA Senior Veterinary Surgeon, Elaine Pendlebury, ‘the worse case scenario is that a pet could lose several if not all of its teeth. We hope that by highlighting how easy it is to take care of your petís teeth properly, pet dental health across the UK will improve dramatically.’
PDSA discovered that the problem seems to be that most pet owners simply aren’t aware of what they can do to help keep their pet’s teeth and gums healthy. In cats and dogs brushing teeth daily can help stop a build-up of plaque, and dental chews can also help keep plaque at bay. With small furry pets such as hamsters, a carefully planned diet can also help prevent dental problems.
Signs that your pet is suffering from dental disease include bad breath, yellow/brown teeth and red or bleeding gums. Other signs include pain or swelling of the jaw, food falling from the mouth when eating, a lack of interest in food, weight loss, face rubbing, excessive salivation and difficulty in swallowing.
The main culprit is plaque - bits of food and bacteria that stick to the teeth. If this is left on the teeth’s surface, the gums can become inflamed very quickly - in as little four to five weeks. This can lead to infection and the loss of good teeth. In addition, this infection can cause diseases at more distant sites in the body, such as the kidneys and heart valves.
Elaine continues: ‘Looking after and checking your pet’s teeth and gums every day is an important part of responsible pet care. Preventing dental problems is much better than trying to cure them.’
Although PDSA would always encourage dog and cat owners to clean their pet’s teeth, it’s not always possible as some pets can find the process quite stressful and are far from willing to let their owner clean their teeth. However, owners’ shouldn’t despair as feeding an appropriate balanced diet is also an important factor in keeping a pet’s teeth healthy.
The Dental leaflet forms part of a range of Responsible Pet Care information leaflets produced by PDSA that cover a variety of pet care topics including, First Aid, Vaccinations and Neutering. The leaflets are available from PDSA PetAid hospitals and PDSA charity shops nationwide. Further information can be obtained from www.pdsa.org.uk or by calling freephone 0800 917 2509.