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Dental Problems in Your Dog, Cat and Ferrett

Ronald S. Hines DVM PhD 2/7/03

The biggest problem causing tooth and gum disease in your pet is that animalís diets are formulated and textured to meet the desires of the petís owners Ė not good oral hygiene. The villain in tooth and gum disease in pets and people is plaques.

Plaque is a mixture of remaining food, and salivary mineral mixed with bacteria and fermentation acids which slowly irritate the gums (periodontal disease) and dissolve the teeth and cause bad breath. These particles tend to cling to the nooks and crannies which exist between the teeth.

They are also worse where in the back of the mouth where teeth are closer together. Some breeds of dogs and cats (Maltese terriers, Siamese Cats) tend to have more dental disease. In Ferrets, poor nutrition of the mother (Jill) or exceptionally large litters and a lack of dietary calcium all contributes to later dental disease. So dose the provision of dog Ė rather than cat or ferret chow Ė to weanlings.

The most important thing you can do to preserve your petís teeth is to feed a crunchy diet exclusively . Itís simply a matter of mechanics. A crunchy diet massages the gums and wears off plaque. The second most important thing you can do is to purchase an ultra-soft pediatric toothbrush and brush your petís teeth twice a day with a poultry or beef-flavored dentifrice.

Remember, dental and gum disease is basically a matter of prevention. There is no cure Ė once it has begun we can only slow its progress. In toy and smaller breeds, ultrasonic or manual removal of plaque may be necessary.

There are diets and treats on the market formulated especially to minimize dental and gum disease. I can supply you with these product when you need them.