They may be ‘mans best friend’ but when it comes to taking care of the family dog New Zealanders are failing to meet basic healthcare standards according to new research.
The Dentastix survey investigated Kiwis attitudes to the health and care of their pets with 98% of respondents saying they didn’t brush their dogs teeth daily, a sign we are are neglecting their basic dental requirements according to a top veterinarian.
Veterinarian, Dr Michael Hardcastle says dogs suffer plaque and tartar build-up just as quickly as humans.
“Sadly dental disease is a major cause of pain and discomfort in our pets. Every pet owner should do what they can to prevent this problem - in my opinion, the ideal way to maintain canine oral health is a daily cleaning routine.”
Despite Kiwis neglect of their dogs teeth more than a third (34%) were critical of their pet’s oral hygiene and complained that a dog’s bad breath is one of the most unpleasant smells they could imagine.
More than half (61%) of dog owners admitted to not brushing their dog’s teeth at all with 55% saying they did not realise they needed to and 15% asserting that their dog didn’t like it. Of these dog owners 7% said they didn’t know how to brush their dog’s teeth while 4% believed their dog was too dangerous to do so.
The study also showed that less than a third (29%) of dog owners, who make up more than one quarter (28%) of the population, regularly take their dog to the vet for an oral check up.
“In my opinion, adult dogs should have a dental check every six months – the same as recommended for people,” says Dr Hardcastle.
“Some dogs need frequent dental treatment, for example small breeds such as Yorkshire Terries and Maltese, as they accumulate tartar very quickly. If their teeth are not cleaned regularly, periodontal disease sets in rapidly.”
Dr Hardcastle says periodontal disease in dogs can result in a number of symptoms including persistent bad breath, gums that bleed easily, sensitivity around the mouth and irreversible periodontitis if not treated.
Periodontitis is an irreversible disease in which the bone and ligaments that hold teeth in place are gradually destroyed by painful infection and inflammation, says Dr Hardcastle.
“It is the end stage of a chronic gum infection, in which bacteria have been allowed to persist on the teeth inside deposits of plaque and tartar.
“Occasionally teeth can be saved, but in most cases the only humane treatment is extraction – usually of many teeth, since the entire mouth is affected. Frequently vets find that diseased teeth are also fragile and difficult to extract, requiring extensive, lengthy and costly dental surgery,” says Dr Hardcastle.
The survey showed the most regular source of oral care for dog owners were biscuits with up to 81% of owners agreeing this was a daily occurrence. The second most popular source of dental hygiene care were dog chews with 19% using these daily followed by animal bones (12% daily occurrence).
The survey was carried out in conjunction with the launch of new Pedigree Dentastix.