It is estimated that over 87% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 years are affected by dental disease. Dogs also have a more alkaline mouth, which can promote plaque formation.
What Are The Signs of Dental Disease In Pets?
- Discoloured teeth
- Red or swollen gums
- Reduced appetite / pets being selective with their food
- Weight loss
- Rubbing at their mouths and/or drooling
- Not playing with toys
- Bad breath
There are many signs that point to pet dental problems depending on the severity of the disease. The earliest signs to look out for are discoloured teeth and red or swollen gums.
As dental disease progresses you may start to see signs of reduced appetite or your cat or dog being more selective with food. This can include choosing soft food rather than biscuits or cats licking the jelly from the food and chewing on one side of the mouth rather than both.
Pets may go towards their food bowl like they want to eat but then back away. This change in appetite would then likely lead on to weight loss.
You may find your pets rubbing at their mouths either with their paws or along the floor or furniture and drooling and being sensitive to their mouths being touched.
They may also stop playing with their toys. These are often indicators of oral pain. As dental disease advances you could start to notice bleeding gums – you may notice this as blood on toys, in their water/food bowl or just in their saliva.
Persistent bad breath is often one of the first things that owners notice but is usually a sign of advanced dental disease and ultimately you may find loose or missing teeth.
Stages of Dental Disease In Cats & Dogs
- Plaque and mildly inflamed gums – Dental plaque is formed when the bacteria in your pet’s mouth combines with their saliva. This then sticks to the surface of the teeth and is initially colourless. As the bacteria continue to grow, the plaque hardens and forms the yellow/brown coloured substance called tartar.
- Gingivitis (gum disease) – Once the plaque and tartar get under the gum line, it starts causing inflammation known as ‘gingivitis’. This is characterised by a mild redness line on the gum margin. This stage of dental disease is still reversible by diligent homecare or scaling and polishing by your vet.
- Mild periodontitis – In mild periodontitis the tartar has progressed under the gum line and has also caused up to 50% of the tooth’s attachment to the tooth socket to be lost.
- Severe periodontitis – In this case greater than 50% of the tooth’s support is lost and unfortunately extraction of this tooth is the necessary treatment.
How Can Dental Disease Be Treated In Cats & Dogs?
Our practices offer the full range of dental care for your pets. Our nurses offer free dental consults where we can advise you on preventative care. The sooner this is started the better even in puppies and kittens. In more severe cases we can carry out dental treatment including dental x-rays and tooth extractions and follow this up with a home care plan to prevent dental disease recurring in the future
Concerned about your pet’s teeth? Call your nearest practice to make an appointment.