Dental disease: what’s your pet’s breath telling you?

June 17th, 2017

It’s hard to believe that four out of five dog and cat patients over three years of age have some form of dental disease. While many people believe that bad breath is normal for their furry friends, it can be an indication of dental disease.

What causes dental disease?

Dental disease, or periodontal disease, is caused by an infection called plaque. Plaque is made up of food particles, saliva and bacteria, which sticks to the tooth surface and, if not removed, will calcify into tartar. This takes place above and below the gum line and over time can lead to the destruction of the supportive tissues and jawbone, resulting in bad breath, oral pain and eventual loss of teeth. If left untreated, severe dental diseases can lead to heart, liver and kidney problems.

The good news is, in most cases this is preventable if pet owners regularly check their pet’s teeth and tackle potential dental problems early.

What are the signs of dental disease?

There are a number of signs that can alert you to the possibility that your pet is living with dental disease. These include:

  • Bad breath
  • Discolouration, plaque or tartar build-up on teeth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Difficulty eating or loss of appetite
  • Redness or inflammation of gums
  • Swelling under the eye — could be a sign of a dental abscess
  • Discomfort, lumps or bleeding around the mouth

How can I prevent my pet from getting dental disease?

Regular vet checks will help identify any development of periodontal disease and your vet can also discuss the best management plan for your pet. Generally, premium food, specifically dental diets, can significantly reduce the development of tartar. Some chewy treats are also specifically designed to reduce tartar, promote healthy gums and freshen breath. If your pet is calm and relaxed, brushing her teeth with a specially designed pet toothbrush and pet toothpaste is also beneficial.

Free pet dental checks at Greencross Vets!

From June through to August, Greencross Vets will be providing complimentary dental checks and $50 off dental scale and polish procedures (conditions apply, please see details on the Greencross Vets ad page). For more information about how to keep your pet’s teeth healthy, visit your local Greencross Vets clinic or make an appointment online today. Visit

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