IT might be a surprise to learn that gum disease (periodontal disease) is not only the most common disease in humans – it is also one of the most common amongst cats and dogs.

Even if your pet seems fine, there is a chance that it may be suffering from dental disease. Millcroft Vets’ advice is to be aware of some of the indicators that your pet may be affected, which include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of interest in playing or chewing toys
  • Quieter demeanour; many people say their pets just 'aren't themselves'
  • Drooling
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss

It is often thought to be an inevitable part of aging with our pets, however there are several ways to promote good oral hygiene and prevent your pet suffering harmful, unpleasant, or painful consequences of bad teeth.

To give your pet the best chance of good oral health, owners should ideally start brushing their animal’s teeth every day while they are puppies or kittens – or, at the very least, three or four times a week.

Toothpaste and brushes for animals can be bought from veterinary practices or pet shops.

Nichola Rae, Registered Veterinary Nurse at Millcroft Vets, says: “Your pets teeth should look clean and gums pink. Red gums indicate gingivitis and from there periodontal disease begins with plaque, leading to the brown tartar as the disease progresses”

There are varying grades of the disease, but likely it will have to be dealt with at the surgery, where your pet’s teeth will be scaled, polished and assessed fully under anaesthetic. Once the plaque and tartar has been removed, the animal should be having its teeth brushed every day, or the build-up will eventually recur.

Nichola also warns against using too many ‘chew sticks’ that claim to clean the teeth while the animal chews. These chews do not treat the tartar or gum disease and they can be very fattening.

“We know that they are used by owners with the best intentions, but you have to be very careful, and they really aren’t a substitute for daily brushing,” says Nichola.

During December, Millcroft Vets will be offering free dental checks with a Registered Veterinary Nurse, and 10 per cent off dental treatment.

The Millcroft Veterinary Group consists of six surgeries in Cockermouth, Keswick, Workington, Maryport, Aspatria and Egremont, and can be contacted 24 hours a day on 01900 826666.

Follow Millcroft Vets on Facebook for your pet’s continuing good health.

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