Monday, February 23, 2009


Most people are very aware of their own teeth. We know about plaque control, cavity prevention and the social evils of bad breath. Most people also visit their dentist regularly. Despite this awareness of human dentistry, many pet owners do not realize their animals are subject to the same problems.

Why care for your pet’s teeth?
For the same reason you care for your own. The most common disease in pet animals is periodontal disease. They are also subject to broken teeth, orthodontic problems and even cavities. All of these problems will affect your animal’s mouth, obviously, but can also lead to the infections that introduce bacteria into other parts of the body. In other words, bad teeth can lead to a sick animal.

Do cats and dogs feel pain like us?
Many owners tell us that they did not notice any change in their animal’s behaviour, so they assumed they were fine. This isn’t surprising. Our pets are ultimately descended from wild animals. It does a wild animal no good to advertise the fact that it is sick, or to stop eating because its teeth hurt. Most animals simply adopt a stoic attitude to chronic pain. But if you’ve ever had a chronic tooth ache, you know the meaning of pain. Studies have shown that dogs and cats have pain thresholds that are almost identical to humans.

What can you do about your pet’s oral or dental health?
Plenty. The first step is to look in your pet’s mouth, on a regular basis. If the gums appear red or inflamed, if there’s a foul odour, if you see pus at the gum line or broken teeth – see your veterinarian right away. He or she will assess the problem and formulate a treatment plan.

The longer term solution is to look after your pet’s teeth with regular brushing and checking – just like you do with your own.

normbite.jpg (13283 bytes)

Photo shows a healthy dog's mouth, showing well-maintained teeth.

This information and image come from

Fraser Hale, DVM, FAVD, dipAVD
Phone: 1-866-TOOTHVET
(toll-free in Ontario, except 807 area)

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