Periodontal disease is prevalent in dogs in the UK, and has many negative consequences for the health and welfare of the affected individual. Despite techniques and products being available for owners to maintain good oral health, compliance is low. This study used a questionnaire to investigate dog owners’ awareness and use of dental homecare, and the influence of veterinary professionals, to establish if further educational intervention is required. Quantitative and qualitative analysis revealed a lack of knowledge and performance of dental homecare, suggesting a need for veterinary professionals to provide education for owners on this topic.
Periodontal disease is the most diagnosed condition in canines within the UK (O’Neill et al, 2021) and is described as plaque-induced disease of the periodontium. Its early stage, gingivitis, is characterised by inflammation of the gingiva, caused by plaque bacteria, and is reversible through dental prophylaxis and homecare (Niemiec, 2008). Periodontitis, the later stage, occurs when the deeper structures, the periodontal ligament and alveolar bone, are affected, and unlike gingivitis, the damage is irreversible (Niemiec, 2008).
According to the Code of Conduct for Veterinary Nurses, animal health and welfare is the priority for veterinary professionals (Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, 2022). It is crucial, therefore, that professionals work together with animal owners to reduce occurrences of periodontal disease clinical signs and complications such as tooth loss, tooth mobility, dental abscess, halitosis, oral-nasal fistulas, blindness, oral cancer, osteomyelitis and pathogenic mandibular fracture (Niemiec, 2008; McFadden and Marretta, 2013). These conditions can cause pain, negatively impacting quality of life, and can lead to the need for invasive veterinary treatment under general anaesthesia (Niemiec et al, 2020).