A VETS is warning about the dangers and costs of tooth decay after treating thousands of pets for dental diseases.

Guiseley-based White Cross Vets says almost 4,000 pets have been treated for dental disease in its 19 practices around the country - equating to four pets at each practice every week.

Vet, Tom Ward, from the Guiseley practice, said: “We are definitely seeing an increase in the number of pets suffering from poor dental health. Getting owners to implement good dental hygiene can sometimes be like pulling teeth. The majority fully appreciate how important it is to regularly brush their pets’ teeth, but the problem is a lot of dogs and cats just won’t let them. Understandably, it’s not easy to find the time to do it either, but it’s really important to keep on top of their oral health.”

“Dental disease is very common in cats and dogs – particularly after the age of three – and it is estimated about seven in ten pets have some kind of tooth disorder. If left untreated this can cause irreversible damage to the teeth, gums and jawbones. Stopping the build-up of plaque is the only way of preventing dental disease.

Tom added: “We have seen a big increase in tooth extraction work as a result of poor dental hygiene which is caused by the build-up of plaque. The plaque harbours bacteria that can infect the gum tissue and the roots of the teeth causing disease and tooth loss. In severe cases, the bacteria can also enter the blood stream and cause damage to other organs like the heart, liver and kidneys.”

He added: “Cleaning teeth from being a puppy or kitten makes things easier, but even later in life you can soon get pets used to being handled around the mouth. There are lots of starter brushes that can be worn on a finger that also make it easier to brush the teeth, and it’s absolutely essential to use cat specific and dog specific toothpaste – not human toothpaste as it contains fluoride. The key to good dental health is little and often and to reward your pet after brushing.”