The importance of good dental hygiene in humans is widely reported but, when it comes to pets, pet owners are often unaware that they can help to prevent problems before they develop.
Bad breath in our pets is not pleasant. For many owners, this is the first sign that there might be a problem in the mouths of their pets. For some owners the smell can get so bad that it affects their interaction with their pet. In a study that looked at the prevalence of disorders, gum disease was in the top three disorders seen by vets. It is without a doubt a real and prevalent problem that not only affects the pet but can really affect anyone close to the pet’s mouth!
Of course, the smell is only one aspect of dental disease – gum disease can lead to loosening of teeth and painful mouths and can also contribute to kidney and heart disease.
Bad breath doesn’t have to be a problem for our pets. It is something that we can help to prevent and often successfully improve. However, the prevention side is often put in the “too hard” pile by owners. The thought of trying to brush the wriggly puppy’s teeth or the not very impressed cat’s teeth is daunting and therefore avoided. Yet we know that brushing pets’ teeth can be one of the most effective ways of preventing dental disease.
The other aspect, and one of particular importance for rabbits, is diet. Getting the diet right can also help with dental disease and, just as importantly, will aid in reducing obesity – a real win win.
Prevention is not feasible in all cases and even when owners do all the right things, dental disease can still occur which is why it is vital that pets get regular dental check- ups. Potentially painful dental disease can only be treated if it is spotted and given that most owners don’t look in the mouth of their pets, it is often an unseen problem – an unseen problem that could be causing significant discomfort and other potential problems
I would urge pet owners to think about prevention, correct diet, regular dental check-ups with the vet and prompt treatment and how these can all make a real difference to the health and welfare of pets.