Teeth & Teething

Teeth & Teething (Dogs & Cats)

Dogs and cats are equipped with powerful carnivorous dentition. Their cheek teeth are for cutting flesh, not for mastication. The health of teeth and gums depends almost entirely upon the dog's diet (or cat's diet) [nutrition as therapy] [diets]. Sticks and stones may damage teeth, so playing with such objects is to be discouraged.

If tartar is developing, it can usually be scraped off by a thumbnail, in the early stages. If too much has accrued, a vet can usually pick it off with dental forceps, without anaesthetic. If the condition has gone too far for this (gum erosion, gum recession, gingivitis), a general anaesthetic will probably be needed, to permit a thorough clean. In more extreme cases, extractions become necessary. This is all preventable by feeding a suitable diet, including chunks of raw meat to be chewed (and bones in dogs that handle them well). You should only purchase hide (rawhide) chews if the ingredients and processing are detailed on the label and fit in with your feeding philosophy. Many contain colourants (colorants) and the source material is rarely clearly described.

The AVMC does perform dental work with minimum general anaesthesia (inhalation only), for frail and older patients. Prevention is always better than surgery, however, and there is no such thing as a ‘safe anaesthetic', however ‘light' and however carefully administered. There is always a risk attached.

As with all mammals, the young (puppies and kittens) are equipped with milk teeth, which are shed at intervals, between about 15 weeks old and seven months old. This is an important time in the development of tooth health. A good diet is essential. During this phase, homeopathy can be very helpful. Vaccination at this stage may disrupt the delicate process of tooth shedding and new tooth formation. Homeopathic Calcarea phosphorica and Calcarea fluorica may help with the balanced nutrition of the developing teeth. If dentition is delayed, Calcarea carbonica may help. If a puppy or kitten is chewing or mouthing excessively, homeopathic Chamomilla may help.

See also Dog Diseases/Teeth & Horse Diseases/Teeth

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