Hugo takes on periodontal disease

Updated: Jul 31, 2020

This month the effects of periodontal disease hit home for Hugo, so he’s set his human staff a challenge for August’s Animal Dental Health Month!

Black cat Hugo sits in front of his notebook and pencil and seems unhappy to have been caught writing
You can read Hugo's regular column in the GVS Tail Wag Newspawper - available every month

Next month is Animal Dental Health Month and I’ve set my humans a challenge. In August I want to do more free dental health checks on more animals than we’ve ever done before!

For this aging kitty the problems caused by periodontal disease really hit home this month. Years ago, in my sleek feline youth, I shared a house with an adorable little puppy called Floss – all cuteness and bounce. But this month my bouncy little mate went to run around in that big back yard in the sky – and the reason was periodontal disease.

Periodontal disease, affecting the mouth, teeth and gums, is much more than just bad breath. It is a gradual buildup of plaque, tartar and bacteria that can get into your pets’ bloodstream leading to complications in their liver or kidneys and have negative effects on their heart, general health and lifespan.

So now I want to turn the tables on this nasty condition and to save as many of my furred brothers and sisters from the same fate as my friend Floss.

This August during Animal Dental Health Month I want to take up the fight to prevent periodontal disease and do more dental checks on more animals than we’ve ever done before!

So, what is periodontal disease, and why is it so bad?

The simplest way to think about periodontal disease in cats and dogs is to think about it in terms of your own mouth; after all – cat, dog or human – they’re all teeth.

Imagine not brushing your teeth for a week.

It’d probably feel pretty awful, right? Bits between your teeth, bacteria beginning to build up – your breath would probably start to smell too.

Let’s go another month without brushing your teeth. How are they feeling now? I bet by now you’re really starting to feel the plaque and tartar building up. How’s the breath smelling now?

Imagine how your mouth, teeth and gums would feel without brushing for a year, 2 years, 10 years!

This is where periodontal disease in animals comes from.

Cat undergoes a dental procedure, while the vet used gloved hands to hold its mouth open and show off its yellow and rotten teeth
After years without a check, you can see this poor cat's upper teeth are completely coated in plaque and tartar

In times gone by we didn’t tend to worry too much about our pets’ dental hygiene, past dropping a bit of parsley on their food for fresher breath. But now we recognise that periodontal disease doesn’t just cause problems in your pets’ mouth - the health of your pets’ mouth can have a big effect on their general healthiness and overall lifespan.

As periodontal disease continued to progress in Floss the options for treatment became riskier and more expensive. As an older dog (around 16) any dental surgery involving a long period under anaesthesia posed a risk, and the amount of work that was required in terms of cleaning, teeth removal and remedial surgery meant that the surgery would be long and expensive.

And sadly, Floss was not alone in her situation. Studies in the US and Australia have estimated that 4 out of 5 dogs over the age of 6 have periodontal disease, and the best way to fight back against it is to prevent its spread through early intervention.

Prevention methods can be as simple as feeding your pet more dental sticks or adding mouth-cleaning additives to their water. Periodontal disease that is recognised before it becomes established can be treated with a once-a-week brush of puss or pup’s choppers.

For slightly more advanced cases a scale and clean can bring the teeth back to health and make these prevention methods effective again.

And this is where our August Dental Health Month challenge comes in. The earlier periodontal disease is recognised, the easier (and cheaper) it is to treat, and we want to help as many owners as we can recognise the signs of periodontal disease and to help them to adopt cheaper, preventative measures before the disease progresses to the point where it needs surgical intervention.

At all our clinics you can book in for a complimentary, no-obligation dental health check, where my humans can assess your pets’ mouth, teeth and gums, and let you know if periodontal disease is present, how advanced it is, and what options there are for prevention or treatment.

We know how much your pets mean to you, and we want to make sure they stay by your side for as long as possible, and one way we can do that is to help you recognise the signs of periodontal disease, to help you understand what your options are, and to make sure you know that prevention is easier and cheaper than a cure.

Give your nearest clinic a call and book your complimentary, no-obligation dental health check today, and help us take another small step in stamping out periodontal disease.

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