Common Health Problems affecting Dogs and Cats

Veterinary advice from John Burns BVMS MRCVS

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It is tartar on the teeth that causes gum disease, bad breath and eventually loss of teeth. Popular belief (even among vets) is that tartar is caused by the lack of abrasive food material to clean the teeth. Special diets to stop tooth tartar and gum disease are designed to create an abrasive action to clean the teeth.

It is true that bone and hide chews will help to clean the teeth (hard biscuit will not) but the main reason why cats and dogs get tartar on the teeth is because waste material dissolved in the body fluids (saliva) washes over the teeth and form plaque. A highly digestible, good quality food will not cause an accumulation of waste products in the body when fed correctly.

Symptoms of mouth problems include:

* Bad breath
* Poor Appetite due to pain (which in turn may lead to weight loss)
* Drooling saliva (which may include a little blood)
* Discoloured teeth
* Red/receding gums
* Pawing at the mouth


* Mouth ulcers
* Poisoning
* Foreign object trapped in the mouth
* Viral infections
* Immune system dysfunctions
* Poor diet

Gingivitis is inflammation of the gums and Stomatitis is inflammation of the mucus membranes in the mouth.

According to vets in the USA, the most common cause of dental and mouth problems in cats is poor nutrition. For example; many cat foods contain added salts, sugars, flavourings and preservatives.

Vets may recommend that you use a pet toothpaste and an antiseptic mouthwash for your cat. Gingivitis may be treated with antibiotics and other drugs, but in extreme cases surgery may be advised.

If you do not want to buy toothpaste then brushing your cat’s teeth with a mild salt solution instead can help. However, as with most health problems a good diet is very important.


Common pet health problems
John Burns Pet Health Management Programme






John Burns can be contacted at 99 Ferry Road, Kidwelly, Carmarthenshire, Wales, SA17 5EJ - Freephone (UK) 0800 018 18 90 | Nutritional advice Freephone (UK) 0800 083 66 96
Tel 01554 890482 | Fax 01554 891476 | email nutritional advice

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