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Dental plaque in dogs and cats

Tartar is a hard plaque that adheres to the teeth and forms slowly as a result of the mineralization of food residues in the oral cavity. The bacteria found there are also involved in this process.

Usually, tartar build-up causes serious damage to animals over 3 years of age, although in some dogs and cats it appears earlier. Some breeds are prone to tartar build-up. These are the brachycephalic breeds (with a short muzzle) such as Pekingese, Japanese Chin, Pug, English and French Bulldog, Boston Terrier, etc. Miniature breeds are also susceptible: mini pinscher, chihuahua, spitz, poodles and others. In general, larger dog breeds have fewer problems. In cats, the breeds with short muzzles - the Persians - accumulate the most tartar. Breeding over centuries has created breeds that differ too much from their wild ancestors, and often the good looks come at the expense of altered oral anatomy.

The following changes in the bite are a prerequisite for the accumulation of tartar: too closely spaced teeth; incorrect contact between the teeth of the upper and lower jaw; teeth growing in the wrong direction; retained baby teeth. Certain dietary mistakes also lead to tartar build-up. Many people feed their dogs bones or allow them to play with hard objects, rocks, metal, etc. As a result, fractures (breaks) of some teeth are often obtained, most often the premolars and molars of the upper jaw. Even a minimal chipping of the tooth enamel leads to a rapid accumulation of tartar. The rough surface of a broken tooth is an ideal place for food debris to be trapped and bacteria to accumulate. Here we must note that the nutritional value of bones is extremely low. They consist of a little gelatin, which is a low-quality protein, and a large amount of minerals. In addition to teeth, bones can also damage all other parts of the digestive system, but we can talk about that in another post

Kidney tissue is also damaged with subsequent kidney diseases: pyelonephritis, glomerulonephritis and others. The end result is often kidney failure. When the body's immune defenses are weakened, purulent processes develop in various parts of the body and sometimes septicemia. All mentioned diseases are difficult to treat and in many cases irreversible. A huge number of adult dogs and cats die from diseases of the heart, kidneys, liver and others. From our medical practice, we have established the clear connection between diseased teeth and heart diseases in adult dogs. Almost every dog with severe gingivitis, tartar, and loose teeth also has a loud heart murmur, and X-rays show signs of heart disease.

In summary, we can say that the accumulation of tartar leads to an avalanche of problems that worsen with age and generally shorten the life of our beloved four-legged friends by years.

After getting acquainted with the frightening facts about the harm caused by tartar, we must also get acquainted with the solution to the problem. And here, as with most diseases, it is far easier and cheaper to observe proper prevention than to treat seriously damaged organs. Since, according to statistics, 80% of dogs and cats rapidly accumulate tartar after the age of 3, every dog and cat should take care to slow down this process and clean the tartar. Prevention consists in cleaning the teeth before tartar has accumulated. It is good for small puppies and kittens from the age of 2-3 months to regularly open their mouths, touch and massage their teeth and gums. It should be approached carefully. Rudeness and violence will prevent the formation of a habit. If the procedure is unpleasant for the animal, it will also be unpleasant for you, and most likely you will not be able to take care of your pet's teeth regularly. Petting and moderate “treats“ with treats during cleaning help. The ideal option is to find treats that do not pollute the oral cavity. For example, many dogs love carrots. Special bones are very suitable, which, apart from being tasty, clean plaque on the teeth. For example, Pedigree's Rask Dentabone, used once daily, slows the rate of tartar build-up by more than 2x and also reduces gum inflammation. Solid granulated foods also slow down tartar build-up compared to canned foods and soft homemade food. It is a misconception that bones clean teeth. As mentioned above, they are too hard and often cause tooth fractures

If your pet tolerates massaging the gums with fingers, you can try cleaning with wet gauze, followed by a soft toothbrush. There are also special thimble-shaped toothbrushes on the market that make cleaning easier. As with humans, cleaning is done with light rotating movements. There are also special toothpastes on the market. Such are, for example, the preparations of “Primadent“ - Sofia. Of the antiseptic solutions, a 1% solution of oxygenated water is suitable, i.e. you need to dilute 3% oxygen water from the pharmacy in a ratio of 1 part oxygen water to 2 parts water. Oxygenated water emits active oxygen, which destroys a large part of the bacteria in dental plaque and has a healing effect on the gums. A 1% solution of oxygen water can be used 2-3 times a week. For more serious inflammation of the gums, a 0.1% solution of chlorhexidine gluconate (Hibitan) can be used. Such a solution can be obtained from your veterinarian at his discretion after an examination.

Depending on your free time, set aside a few minutes each day. Even just cleaning with a wet gauze is enough to keep the teeth clean. If you turn this obligation into an enjoyable time to spend with your dog or kitty, it will be easier for you. The result of your efforts will be a significant delay in the accumulation of tartar, and from there all the consequences associated with it. See how to teach your pet to dental hygiene:

We must emphasize that once tartar has accumulated, its cleaning cannot be done at home. That's why it's a good idea to have your pets visit the vet regularly. A preventive examination of the teeth and gums should be done once a year. It is convenient to carry out such an examination during the annual vaccination. However, if you notice bad breath from your pet's mouth, if the teeth are not pure white and the gums are pink, it is good to seek veterinary help.

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