Dogs and Cats
Your pet's dental health is very important - without care and attention, oral disease and other associated problems can occur. Not only is an unhealthy mouth painful, it can also cause bacteria to enter the bloodstream, where it can damage internal organs and make your beloved pet very poorly.
Different elements can contribute to dental disease:
Plaque - Caused by a build up of bacteria on the surfaces of the teeth, most commonly the premolars and molars.
Periodontal disease - Over time, tartar builds up under the gum line and separates the bony structures of the jaw from the teeth. Abscesses can form, which lead to increased bacteria levels that can enter the bloodstream. Once at this stage the condition is irreversible, and dental treatment is required.
Trauma- Many objects can damage teeth such as stones or sticks. Only provide toys that are safe for your pet to chew or play games with.
By examining your pet’s mouth regularly you will be able to pick up the early warning signs, which could prevent pain and avoid the need for tooth extractions.
- Red or bleeding gums
- Dropping food
- Heavy tartar deposits
- Receded gums
- Difficult eating
- Pawing at the face
The most effective dental care routine for your pet is one that is as similar to ours as possible. Imagine not brushing your own teeth for a week - yuk!
Ideally brush your pet’s teeth every day with special pet toothpaste, or at the very least 4-5 times a week. Begin by introducing your pet to the toothpaste by placing a small amount on your finger and letting him/her lick it off. Once your pet readily accepts the toothpaste you can place your finger (or a cotton bud) with some toothpaste on into his/ her mouth and gently rub the teeth and gums. Repeat this until your pet is happy to have his/her teeth lightly brushed.
When your pet becomes comfortable with light brushing, he/she can be introduced to the toothbrush.Wet the toothbrush to soften the bristles slightly and apply a small amount of toothpaste. Keeping the mouth closed is best, so lift the lip and start at the back of the mouth inside the cheek using a circular motion to clean the molars and premolars.The canines and incisors at the front are brushed in a similar way except the motion here is upwards and downwards. Repeat on both sides for that Hollywood smile!
A variety of dental diets are available, such as Hills T/D and Royal Canin Dental. The structure of the food is designed so that when your pet starts to eat, the kibble remains intact until the tooth has penetrated through the biscuit, thus cleaning the teeth.
Solutions are available to add to your pet’s daily drinking water.They inhibit plaque build up and help keep your pet’s breath fresh. Oral rinses are also available with similar properties.
Chews and Treats
A variety of dental chews and treats can be found from a number of sources (vets/pet shops/supermarkets).The shape and texture of the chews /treats are designed for maximum tooth contact therefore preventing plaque and tartar formation, some even are flavoured to give a minty fresh smell. It is important to remember that dental chews/treats contain calories, which should be factored in to your pet’s overall intake.
Unlike dogs and cats, a rabbit’s teeth cannot be brushed, therefore other measures are required to prevent dental disease and provide aftercare following a dental procedure. A rabbit’s teeth are continuously growing so getting it wrong can cause problems throughout their lives.
Feed good quality hay
The most important thing you can do to look after your rabbit’s teeth is to provide plenty of good quality hay. Hay should make up at least 80% of a rabbit’s diet - eating it stimulates the side-to-side movement of the teeth. Do avoid dusty or mouldy hay however.
Access to grass
Grass contains phytoliths, small sandpaper-like crystals that effectively clean and wear your rabbit’s teeth.
Muesli feeds are not recommended as they contain high levels of sugar, which is not good for the teeth (think sweets and children!) At Sandhole we recommend Excel Rabbit or Supreme, both high quality pellet diets.
Signs to watch out for
Monitor the size of your rabbit’s faecal droppings. Small droppings can be related to dental disease due to the rabbit wanting to graze less and only eat pelleted food, thus decreasing the amount of food and waste produced.
Weight loss is also a key indicator of dental disease. We recommend weighing your rabbit once a week so you spot any weight loss early.
It is critical that rabbits eat regularly. If your rabbit stops eating, even for half a day, please call the Sandhole team who will advise you accordingly.
Please feel free to contact us to discuss your rabbit’s nutritional needs.