Dental Care

It is important to start looking after your pet’s teeth from an early age, all throughout their life. Imagine how our teeth would look and our breath would smell if we didn’t brush our teeth regularly. It is just the same for your pet. Ideally you should begin brushing their teeth between 8 and 12 weeks of age as this enables them to become accustomed to it before their permanent dentition develops- but it is never too late to start!

The brushing motion removes the plaque which builds up on their teeth. It is soft and pasty and not easy to see. It builds up on teeth 24 hours a day and harbours bacteria which infect the gum tissue and roots of the teeth. It also causes bad breath. Unless the plaque is removed on a regular basis their gums can become sore and inflamed.

The plaque eventually calcifies and turns into tartar which is the hard brown material that becomes visible on your pet’s teeth. If left, it can lead to periodontal disease and loss of their teeth. The bacteria in plaque can even spread to other parts of the body and have been linked to heart, liver and kidney disease.

Once the tartar is formed it can only be removed by your veterinary surgeon giving your pet a general anaesthetic and removing it using an ultrasonic scaler. Sometimes at this stage some teeth will require removing and the remainder will be polished. Strict aftercare at home will need to be undertaken to prevent another dental procedure being needed.

It is important to use a toothbrush and toothpaste designed for animals as the brush is ultra soft and shaped to fit their mouth and teeth. The toothpaste is flavoured to appeal to animals- fish flavoured for cats and poultry flavoured for dogs. It is also fine to be swallowed unlike human toothpaste which requires rinsing and contains fluoride. The paste contains an ingredient which helps prevent plaque from sticking to your pet’s teeth after brushing.  A range of kits are available at the veterinary practice.

Your pet’s normal diet, especially if tinned, allows for food to stick to their teeth and favours the growth of bacteria found in plaque which is why home dental care is so important. There is a range of dental biscuits, rinses and chews available from the practice which can help along with brushing to keep their teeth clean by limiting dental plaque and tartar formation.

The Royal Canin Dental diet, available for cats and dogs is specially formulated and works by 2 actions:

Mechanical action: the kibble’s special texture means that when eaten the tooth will bite right into it. The abrasive effect of contact breaks down dental plaque and disperses bacteria.

• Biochemical action: micronised sodium polyphosphate is dispersed into the mouth and traps calcium present in saliva before it can build up on plaque which is present on the teeth. By making the calcium unavailable, tartar formation is delayed.

Small breed dogs are especially susceptible to dental problems, which is why Royal Canin also put sodium polyphosphate in their Vet Care range of diets as well for tartar control.

Chews are also very good at reducing plaque formation but generally they can only clean the prominent areas of your dog’s teeth.

To enable your pet to enjoy having their teeth cleaned be patient and take time with the process. Try following these steps and your pet will quickly get used to the process:

Day 1: Gently stroke the outside of your pet’s cheeks with your finger only (no brush) and slowly lift their lip for about 30 seconds. Reward, praise and treat at the end of each session.

Day 2: Repeat as above and also place a small amount of toothpaste on the end of your finger and let your pet sample it.

Day 3: Repeat Day 2, but this time, gently run your finger or toothbrush and a small amount of toothpaste over your pet’s teeth for 30-45 seconds. Never start at the front of the mouth as this is the most sensitive part. Reward with praise and a treat. It sometimes helps to smear the toothpaste into the brush so your pet does not lick it off straight away!

Day 4: Repeat Day 3 adding 15 seconds to the time running over your pet’s teeth. Reward with praise and a treat.

Day 5: Gradually you should be aiming to spend about a minute on each side of their mouth, brushing horizontally for cheek teeth and vertically for their canine teeth.

Ideally try to brush your pet’s teeth once a day, usually bedtime is a good time followed by a dental biscuit or chew as a reward.

If you would like more advice on the best way to care for your pet’s teeth please speak to your veterinary nurse at your local branch of Cinque Ports Vets.

Useful links:
www.royalcanin.co.uk/downloads/vetlibrary/good_oral_hygiene_in_pets.PDF

Please click on the videos below to watch how to brush your pet’s teeth.

Caring For Your Puppy

1. Feeding:
From weaning age we recommend feeding a complete and balanced good quality puppy food until your puppy is at least six months of age. If your puppy is a large, fast growing breed there are large breed diets available. After this your dog can move onto an adult food to continue their optimum development. We recommend the Royal Canin range which is available from the veterinary practice and we will be happy to advise you on a suitable diet for your dog throughout their life. The food is specifically designed to provide the correct levels of energy, protein, vitamins and minerals for a growing puppy. There is no need to use supplements, but always ensure there is a constant supply of drinking water available.

2. Vaccination:
This consists of a course of two vaccinations-one which is given at 8 weeks of age and the second which is given at 12 weeks. These protect against Distemper (Hardpad), Hepatitis, Leptospirosis, Parvovirus and ParaInfluenza. Your puppy will be able to go out for walks one week after the second vaccination. To maintain your dog’s immunity against these diseases (which in some cases can be fatal) a yearly booster is required. We will send you a reminder when it is due but please make sure you keep their vaccination certificate in a safe place and make a note on the calendar when it is due!

3.Worming and Flea Control:
This is necessary for all dogs throughout their life not just when they are puppies. They should be wormed with a veterinary supplied broad spectrum multiwormer. Often supermarket and pet-shop wormers will only treat one or two types of worms so will not always be effective. Your puppy should be wormed every 2 weeks until they are 12 weeks and then once every 3 months thereafter. To help you remember we will send you a reminder when the next dose is due!
We advise regular treatment for fleas all year round  to  prevent  infestations. This is easily achieved by using a treatment available from the veterinary practice. Please feel free to ask for advice on the products which best suit your puppy’s situation.

4.House Training:
Begin toilet training as early as possible. Take your puppy outside on a regular basis to a designated area in the garden. Your puppy will need to go out at least every 2 hours especially after sleeping, eating or playing. Always praise them when they have finished and keep an eye on them when they are in the house for any signs of whining, sniffing the ground or looking uncomfortable. Take them outside straight away as young pups cannot hold on very long. You can also provide your puppy with a small area indoors covered with newspaper for them to use for their toilet area. It is normal for your puppy to have accidents but it is important to remember not to tell them off. These accidents will decrease in frequency and eventually stop altogether. Please feel free to ask for any help and advice or see our information sheet on Toilet Training.

5.Microchipping:
It is a legal requirement to have your puppy microchipped by 8 weeks of age and keep their contact details up to date with the database.
This is an extremely important way of identifying your puppy should they ever go missing. It is a permanent form of identification which should be used along with a collar and ID tag. A small microchip (about the size of a grain of rice) is inserted in the excess skin of your puppy’s neck. This chip contains a unique number which is read by using a scanner. This number is registered along with your contact details with the microchip database. All stray animals are scanned and on reading the chip the database would be contacted and you would be reunited with your dog as quickly as possible. Without this permanent method of identification your dog may not be traced back to you and may even be re-homed.

6.Neutering:
Our policy is to spay bitches from 6 months of  age before their first season. This can significantly reduce their chances of developing mammary tumours and pyometras (infection of the uterus) later in life. Male dogs should also be castrated at 6 months of age as this helps prevent them from developing prostate problems and testicular tumours later in life. Once your dog has been neutered, you may need to reduce the amount of food they require as it is quite common for neutered dogs to gain a little weight due to the reduction in hormones. There is a diet lower in calories available for neutered dogs at the veterinary practice and we will be happy to advise you.

7.Dental Care:
We clean our teeth several times a day and have regular check ups with a dentist.  Imagine what our mouths would be like if we didn’t – Dogs are no exception! It is important to develop a dental care regime for your puppy at an early age, which you can continue throughout their life. The gold standard of dental care is to brush your puppy’s teeth once a day (usually at bedtime) with a special dog toothbrush and toothpaste. Human formulas are not suitable as they are not designed to be swallowed. Dog toothpastes are available in a range of flavours and your dog will probably regard it as a treat! These kits and other dental care products including chews and dental biscuits are available from the veterinary practice. We will be happy to advise you on the most suitable products for your puppy.

8.Pet Healthcare Plan:
Cinque Ports Vets Pet Healthcare Plan enables you to pay monthly for your preventative veterinary treatments. We all want to use the best products available for our pets and at Cinque Ports Vets we want to make preventative healthcare easy and affordable to help give you and your pets the best care possible. You also receive an overall saving on your pets’ vaccinations, healthcheck, worming and flea treatment as well as many other discounts as a reward for joining our scheme. The plan is available for dogs, cats and rabbits from any age and the monthly payment plan will be dependent on the bodyweight of your pet. Please see Pet Healthcare Plan or contact us for more information. Please be aware this is not an insurance policy but a preventative healthcare plan to help spread the cost of routine treatments which insurance does not cover.

9.Insurance:
Pet insurance is an essential requirement to help cover the cost of unexpected veterinary fees. Accidents can happen especially with inquisitive puppies! These can be expensive but being insured means you can have peace of mind. There are a variety of policies available to suit you and your budget and it is always important to make sure you read the small print!

10.Training:
Socialisation needs to start as soon as possible. Arrange for your puppy to have several new experiences every day. Please see the socialisation chart in our Information sheets. Make sure you allow time for rest in between and keep them safe from infectious diseases. This means no mixing with unvaccinated dogs, no walking in areas where other dogs have been and if necessary carrying them to avoid contact with other dogs or soiled areas. Once your puppy is fully vaccinated an ideal way of socialising and training is to attend a puppy party run by some of our branches and also your local dog training class.  We will be happy to provide you with details of classes in your area and offer any advice you may need regarding behavioural or training problems.