A huge rise in the number of dogs and cats in Northampton suffering from dental problems has been spotted by vets.
White Cross Vets is reporting a 75 per cent increase in dental cases from two years ago, when the practice treated just 850 pets between January and May 2014.
This year the family-run group treated 1,485 cases during the same period.
Clinic director Nishi Jani from White Cross Vets in Northampton said: “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 bloodstream and cause damage to other organs like the heart, liver and kidneys.”
Poor oral health can be prevented if owners follow some simple steps such as putting their pet on the right diet and using dental chews and even toothbrushes regularly.
Experts believe that the use of readily available poor quality pet foods have contributed to the increase in the number of pets whose teeth have had to be removed this year.
Mr Jani said: “Soft wet foods that you typically find in supermarkets or brittle, dry kibble that crumbles on impact contribute to plaque build-up and subsequent gum disease.
“It’s much better to feed pets a quality dried food and use dental chews, however neither of these things are a substitute to regularly brushing your pets’ teeth.
“We know it’s not easy and it takes time, but it really is the best way to prevent plaque build-up.
“Ideally owners should try to brush them every day but even if they do it just a few times a week it will make a big difference.”
Pets suffering from poor dental health will display a number of tell-tale signs including persistent bad breath, sensitivity around the mouth, loss of appetite, difficultly chewing, pawing at the mouth, bleeding, inflamed receding gums, visible tartar and loose or missing teeth.