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PDSA Pet check for National Smile Month

DENTAL HYGIENE is as important for pets as it is for people. Approximately 85% of dogs and cats aged three years and over are suffering from some degree of dental disease so in National Smile Month it makes good sense for PDSA, Britain’s leading veterinary charity – to encourage good dental health in pets!

Puppies and kittens are not born with teeth. The ‘baby’ or milk teeth appear from about 10 days onwards. They are replaced by permanent grown up teeth from around 14 weeks. It is then up to the pet’s owner to initiate the regular dental check ups by a vet that will ensure any potential problems such as loose teeth, decay or a build up of plaque can be identified and the pet treated immediately.

Plaque is a harmful mixture of bacteria of food debris which sticks to teeth. It forms into hard calculus which in turn causes inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and also other tissues which surround the teeth (periodontitis). Peridontal disease is the most common dental problem in dogs and if left untreated, this painful condition will eventually result in the tooth being lost.


Learning to conduct a ‘home health check’ is the best way to keep a close eye on the condition of a dog or cat’s teeth and get them used to letting you look in their mouth. What you are looking for is healthy pink gums and strong, smooth white teeth.

The most effective way of keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy is daily brushing at home. You should begin by using soft toothbrush and a special pet toothpaste available from your vet. Never use ‘human’ toothpaste because cats and dogs don’t like the taste or the foaming sensation! Approach your pet from the side rather than the front and start by cleaning a few teeth first of all and then build up to more as the pet grows to like the experience and you feel more confident. If your pet will not let you go anywhere near his teeth then an oral hygiene gel can be ‘fed’ to them instead. This is not as good as brushing but will help to reduce the harmful effects of bacteria on the teeth.

To help matters you can also help protect your pet’s teeth by feeding dental friendly food. A complete dry food diet is much better for teeth as the food does not stick to the teeth like wet food and the crunching actually helps to clean the teeth.

Avoid sugary titbits throughout the day and stick to regular feeding times to reduce the amount of time bacteria is attacking the teeth.

With regular dental check-ups any plaque or calculus can then be removed and follow-up advice given for better pet health?