Dental care Dental care Do pets need dental care Looking after our pets’ teeth is just as important as looking after our own. Without healthy teeth and gums, a pet may not be able to chew food, could develop bad breath and suffer dental pain. Feeding a pet sugary treats and not brushing their teeth can cause build-up of dental plaque, which is formed from bacteria. If left, plaque can form yellow/brown tartar. The acid created by the bacteria in plaque seriously damages the surface of the teeth and irritates the gums. This can lead to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), periodontal disease (damage to the tissues around the teeth) and tooth loss. Prevention of dental disease is much better than cure. Dogs and cats There are specially designed foods, toys and chews available to help keep pets’ teeth clean. While these can help, regular toothbrushing is the best way to keep the teeth clean and healthy. Feeding bones is not recommended as they can damage the teeth or gums, and fragments can become stuck in the throat. stration n o m e d For a how to f o t e v from a or cat’s g o d r u o brush y org.uk/ . a s d p t isi teeth, v videos h t l a e h pet Toothbrushing Special toothbrushes and toothpastes are available for dogs and cats. Pet toothpaste, which usually has a meaty flavour, should always be used because pets dislike human toothpaste. Pets should be introduced to toothbrushing as young as possible, though it can be successfully started in adult animals. Vets advise that rabbits should be fed as follows: Rabbits Unlike human teeth, rabbit teeth grow continuously throughout their life. This means that they need to nibble constantly, to wear their teeth down. Wild rabbits achieve this by eating lots of grass. Pet rabbits should have constant access to good quality hay. If rabbits don’t eat enough grass or hay, their teeth can become overgrown, leading to painful mouth ulcers. In severe cases, overgrown tooth roots can even penetrate the eye socket. Hay is essential in helping to prevent such tragic cases. Signs of dental disease in pets Signs that your pet is suffering from dental disease include bad breath, yellow/brown plaque-covered teeth, and red or bleeding gums. Other signs include difficulty eating, food falling from the mouth, a lack of interest in food, weight loss, face rubbing and excessive saliva. At least their body size in hay each day A handful of fresh vegetables, morning and evening One tablespoon of commercial rabbit nuggets once a day for rabbits under 3.5kg, or one tablespoon twice a day for rabbits over 3.5kg. Don’t feed a muesli-type mix to rabbits as it is linked to painful dental disease. PDSA vets advise Looking after your pet’s teeth is an important part of maintaining their overall health and wellbeing. £6 million Appeal With your help we can build for the future PDSA faces an ever-increasing demand for its veterinary services. We need to raise at least £6 million over the next four years to construct four new PDSA PetAid hospitals, with each one costing approximately £1.5 million. If you would like to help PDSA by making a donation or by getting involved in a fundraising initiative, phone 01952 204788 or email [email protected] Leading veterinary charity, PDSA, funds and provides veterinary care to the sick and injured pets of people in need and promotes responsible pet ownership. The charity operates through a UK-wide network of 48 PetAid hospitals and over 350 PetAid practices (contracted private practices). For more information on PDSA and its work and to find out how you can help support the charity by fundraising, volunteering or making a donation: freephone 0800 917 2509 email [email protected] PDSA Head Office, Whitechapel Way, Priorslee, Telford, Shropshire TF2 9PQ Registered charity nos. 208217 & SC037585 www.pdsa.org.uk SVA0-0174 © The People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals 2010 PDSA For pet owners registered at PDSA PetAid hospitals a range of preventive treatments are sold. These include neutering, vaccinations, microchipping, prescription diets, and flea and worm treatments.