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Time For A Doggie Dental? Know The Drill!

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We've all heard the statistics, around 70% of pets over the age of three already have some form of dental disease.  Dental problems can vary from a buildup of plaque and some redness of the gums all the way through to severe gum disease resulting in extensive inflammation and infection. This is very painful and if not caught until later stages will often require expensive procedures and treatments to fix. It’s amazing what our pets can be hiding in there so be sure to inspect your pet’s mouth regularly; you may be surprised at what you find!

So your pet has bad breath, red gums or some yellow plaque? Time for a dental. August is dental month and most vet clinics will have some kind of promotion or discount offer on dentals and/or dental products, so it's a great time to get on top of that bad doggy breath. Ask for a free dental check and a discount on any necessary procedures.


What is a dental?
Given that most pets won't open wide and sit still for a thorough examination of their mouth, all dental procedures are done under general anaesthetic. A dental generally refers to what is called a "scale and polish".  Any plaque and tartar is removed by an ultrasonic scaler much like the one you would encounter at a human dentist, then the teeth are polished with special pet paste to smooth over the surface of the tooth, leaving them clean and shiny. 


Does it hurt?
In short, no. If only a scale and polish is performed, they won't be sore when they wake up but sometimes a dental can also involve the extraction of troublesome teeth. If teeth are extracted your vet should perform local nerve blocks like we have at the dentist and provide some pain relief medication to take home.


What do I need to do before my pet has their dental?
As an anaesthetic will be given, your pet will require to fast from the night before. Dinner before 8pm is fine, but no food after this, and no treats or breakfast in the morning! Water should not be withheld overnight, but you can take away their water bowl in the morning of the procedure.


What will I need to do when they come home?
Pets can be a little bit sleepy after an anaesthetic, but most bounce back quite quickly so the only difference you will notice is fresher breath and nice white teeth. If your pet had teeth extracted, they will need to have something soft like boiled chicken for a few days until their gums heal.


What can I do to prevent dental disease?
After your pet has had a scale and polish, it is the perfect time to start them on a dental food to ensure their teeth stay clean and their mouth stays healthy. You can also begin to brush your pet’s teeth with special pet toothbrushes and toothpaste if your pooch is particularly tolerant. If not, there are also liquid products that can be added to your pet’s water that act like a mouthwash, although they don't have to rinse and spit, as these are specially formulated to be safe to drink.


How does the food keep their teeth clean?
Veterinary grade dental foods like Hills T/D or Royal Canin Dental are designed to physically scrub the teeth as your pet chews. The Royal Canin Dental diet also contains a specific nutrient that helps to prevent plaque from forming and binding to teeth. Large, raw meaty bones can also be great for dental health, but remember to never give your dog cooked bones, as these can cause an obstruction. 

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About the author

Kate Opitz is a qualified Veterinary Nurse with many years experience working in the Pet Care industry. Originally from Melbourne, she has travelled far and wide across Australia, living in the Northern Territory whilst working with dogs in remote Aboriginal communities and then managing a small vet hospital in Darwin.


The proud owner of a beautiful boxer, Kate has a true and equal love for not only cats and dogs, but all living creatures. She has spent time volunteering overseas with everything from bears to monkeys to tigers, and has always been involved with rescue groups here- fostering and caring for animals in need.


Kate now spends her time travelling in her van, working in vet clinics around Australia, but plans to eventually settle in Melbourne with her family- both human and furry :)

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