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The hidden epidemic causing pain to over 85% of our pets

There’s no pain quite as awful as toothache…the constant, throbbing pounding can make even the mildest natured human turn into a miserable wreck. But did you know the same disease and pain that affects humans can also affect our four-legged friends? Dr Karen Teasdale from Angourie Road Veterinary Surgery stopped by to answer a few questions about dental disease.
So, is dental disease really a problem for our pets?
Absolutely! Dental disease is the most common disease that vets see. It causes misery and suffering and is often undetected. Over 85% of all pets over the age of four have some form of dental disease.
But won’t pets just stop eating if their teeth hurt?
In nature, there is a very simple choice…you either eat or you die. The urge to eat is very, very strong and patients won’t stop eating due to dental disease until the disease is severe enough that they would rather die instead.
What an awful thought…that we would allow disease to progress for so long.
It is in our pet’s best interests to identify areas of pain and fix them before they get to the stage that death is a better option.
What’s the best way to find out if your pet is suffering?
Open their mouth and have a look! Use all of your senses…does the mouth smell gross? Are the teeth discoloured? Are the gums red? If you are at all concerned, take your pet to the vet for a thorough check up. Remember, our pets cannot tell us if they have a toothache, so we have to go looking.
Many times, the diseased teeth will appear relatively normal (perhaps looking only a little discoloured or worn) but dental radiography will reveal significant issues below the gum-line. That’s why it’s important to also radiograph our pet’s mouths when we are assessing the degree of disease and pain.

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