Dental disease in cats and dogs


· Halitosis (bad breath)

· Dribbling, sometime blood stained saliva

· Weight loss

· Reluctance to eat or preferring soft food

· Plaque and tartar visible on teeth

· Wobbly or missing teeth

· Swelling on the face

· Pawing at their face

· Eating on one side of their mouth

What does dental treatment consist of?

In most cases if your vet advises you that your pet needs dental treatment, this will involve a general anaesthetic. Removal of tartar and plaque from teeth generally requires the use of high speed air driven descaling equipment. The majority of our pets will not tolerate this when they are conscious, neither will they allow drilling or tooth removal!

A general anaesthetic means that the vet can have good access to the teeth and gums whilst protecting the pet’s airway from debris and fluid as the teeth are cleaned. The teeth will be descaled to remove the tartar and reveal any damaged or loose teeth that may need to be taken out. Finally they will be polished before the animal is woken up.

We have a dental x-ray machine in our Lanark branch which allows us to take detailed pictures of your pets teeth - even the smallest of cats teeth! Seeing below the gum line allows us to determine the best treatment for your pets teeth, sometimes this may be a recommendation for regular monitoring, especially with FORLs.

Dental disease in cats

Gingivostomatitis (inflammation of the gums) is a common disease in cats. It is a very painful condition and can result in severe changes within the mouth. Bad breath and weight loss are two common signs but unfortunately mean that the disease may be quite advanced by the time this is noticed. The early stages of the disease can be reversed by good oral hygiene including tooth brushing (not impossible in cats!), descaling and use of dental diets. For more advanced cases the only successful method of treatment may be to remove the teeth. Although this may seem drastic many cats are a lot happier after this procedure and will eat biscuits very happily!

FORLs (resorptive lesions) -These are very painful small holes that appear in the teeth of some cats. It is not clear why they occur but teeth will always need attention if they are present

How to brush your pet’s teeth

Step 1 Introduce your pet to the taste of special animal toothpaste by allowing them to lick it off your finger. Make this an enjoyable experience and give them plenty of praise. Do this for 3-5 days.

Step 2 Use your finger to gently rub some toothpaste onto the outside surfaces of the teeth and gums. Start with the canines and gradually work your way to the back teeth. After a few days you can also start to introduce a finger brush to get your pet used to having an unusual object in their mouths.

Step 3 Now you can introduce a pet toothbrush. Brush each tooth in a circular motion with the brush angled at 45 degrees (downwards for the lower jaw and upwards for the upper jaw). Make sure you brush both the tooth and gum line

Prevention of dental disease

Brushing your pets teeth is the best way to prevent dental disease and also you will be able to pick up problems quickly

Not every animal will allow daily brushing and so we need to use alternatives. Hills make a diet called t/d which helps clean the teeth as they eat, chews like dentastix can help but are often full of calories. We can also use additives like aquadent and plaque off, these tend to work much better to keep teeth clean once they have had a scale and polish.