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CONTINUING our series of articles written by the nurses and vets at the Thrums Veterinary Group.

Dental disease is the most frequently occurring clinical condition in dogs and cats.

Four out of five dogs over the age of three years will have gum disease and less than 5% of owners will be aware that their pet may have a problem.

Dentistry work makes up approximately 40% of our daily small animal workload at Thrums Veterinary Group and our aim is to make owners more aware of the problems that can exist and be able to identify possible treatments before the health of their pet is affected.

Although it may not be easy to spot signs of gum disease, checking your pet’s mouth regularly will help. The following could be early warning signs to look out for:-

1. Behaviour - in cases with advanced dental disease where there is pain, your pet may not allow you to look in his/her mouth and changes such as inappetance or no longer playing with toys may be evident. Cats may commonly paw at their face.

2. Bad breath - if any signs of bad breath are present, there is a high chance of underlying gum disease.

3. Bleeding gums - gums can bleed as a direct result of the inflammation caused by plaque. Rotten teeth will often be present and these need treatment.

4. Swelling - facial swelling can be often see plaque, tooth root abscesses, gum recession and neck lesions (very common in cats). Such conditions cause our pets much pain and discomfort and they inevitably require multiple extractions under a general anaesthetic.

By making owners more aware of preventative measures, we hope to improve the dental health of our pets. The following home care programme may help:-

1. Tooth brushing - this is the single most effective way of preventing periodontal disease (your vet nurse can demonstrate how this is done). It is important that a pet friendly toothpaste is used as these are safe and well tolerated. Our best seller is the chicken flavoured variety. Brushing 2-3 times per week will make a huge difference to your pet’s oral health.

2. Diet - the diet you feed your pet makes a difference to the health of their mouth. Feeding a complete dry diet is proven to be better than feeding a wet or a canned variety.

3. Dental chews/toys - chews and toys make a difference but are not as effective as brushing.

4. Regular dental checks - having your pet’s mouth checked regularly will also be beneficial and should be carried out at least once per year.

Owners often report a positive change in their pets’ behaviour after dental work is carried out especially where there is underlying pain caused.

June is National Oral Care month and the nurses at Thrums Veterinary Group will be carrying out free dental checks on all cats and dogs registered. All dogs seen will receive a packet of Pedigree Dentastix also. A 10% discount will apply to all dentistry work performed throughout the month. Please feel free to book your free consultation now by telephoning our Kirriemuir Branch on 01575 572643.