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Tuesday, 25 January, 2000, 13:37 GMT
Give a dog a smile

Trude Trude launches Pet Smile Month 2000 with Dennis the Menace's dog, Gnasher

The teeth of UK pets are in an appalling state, according to a survey published on Tuesday.

Two thirds of dogs and more than 80% of all cats over the age of four need some form of dental treatment.

Nearly 1,000 veterinary practices took part in the survey, which looked at the mouths of 6,140 dogs and 3,146 cats.

Teeth Do not use human toothpaste on your animal
The results showed that those pets whose owners brushed their pets' teeth more than three times a week had the best oral health, yet over 70% of dog owners and 90% of cat owners had never brushed their pets' teeth.

"This simple step would probably be the most important thing that owners could do for their pets' long term welfare," said BBC TV vet Trude Mostue. Trude, who is currently starring in Vets in the Wild, was launching Pet Smile Month 2000 which is promoting complementary oral check-ups for pets at participating practices throughout the UK.

"You must not use human toothpaste on your animal," said vet and director of Pet Smile Month, Bob Partridge. "It foams too much and its high mineral content may cause problems." He said dental chews were a good option for those owners who found toothbrushing too difficult - particularly with cats.

Dental chews

Only 3.5% of owners are doing this and 90% of owners had never given their cat a single dental chew, he said. The survey showed that more than 10% of cats and 7.5% of dogs over four years of age had severe periodontitis.

"This means that there was gum recession, severe inflammation and pus present in the mouth. This doesn't just cause pain.

Pet Smile Pet Smile Month 2000 runs a website with the campaign
"One of the neglected aspects of dental disease is the effect on the whole pet. The bacteria don't just sit in the mouth. They whizz off into the blood stream and can affect the kidneys, liver, heart valves, indeed the whole body," said Bob Partridge, who is a vet in Harrogate, UK, and secretary of the British Veterinary Dental Association.

"Dry and mixed diets seemed better than canned foods for oral health but this may be because more young dogs and cats are fed on dry food as it is a changing culture. More research is needed on this."

Owners who want their pets to have an oral check-up should contact their own veterinary practice to see if it is a registered Pet Smile Month Practice. A list of Pet Smile veterinary practices is available on web.

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