Periodontal disease remains one of the dog's most common health issues, even though it is largely preventable by tooth brushing. Implementation of daily tooth brushing would not only improve animal welfare, but also reduce veterinary costs for the owner. There is a paucity of studies investigating attitudes, opinions and practices of dog owners, veterinarians, and veterinary nurses regarding preventative dental home care in dogs. The objective of this study was to investigate these parameters in Sweden, thereby providing a basis for improved prophylactic strategies.
Validated questionnaire surveys were distributed to all Swedish dog owners (n = 209,263), veterinarians (n = 3657) and veterinary nurses (n = 1650) with e-mail addresses in the national registry. The response rates were 32% for dog owners and veterinarians, and 38% for veterinary nurses. The survey questions concerned attitudes, opinions and practices regarding dental home care, including whether dog owners received information concerning dental home care or not, and if this information resulted in implementation.
Attitudes, opinions and practices regarding dental home care are presented for Swedish dog owners, veterinarians, and veterinary nurses. A fundamental finding was that the absolute majority of Swedish dog owners do not perform adequate prophylactic dental home care. Considerable discrepancies were identified in the opinions of veterinary health practitioners and dog owners regarding attitudes towards dental home care and conveying of information. Several areas for improvement in the communication between dog owners and veterinary health practitioners concerning dental home care were identified.
Our results illustrates the need for validated methods to increase dog owner compliance with dental home care recommendations. We also see a need of further education, regarding canine dental home care, among veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and dog owners. The results from this unique study constitute an important foundation for future development of prophylactic strategies, with the ultimate goal to improve dental health, and thereby animal welfare, in dogs.
Link to the publication
Enlund, K.B., Brunius, C., Hanson, J. et al. Dental home care in dogs - a questionnaire study among Swedish dog owners, veterinarians and veterinary nurses. BMC Vet Res 16, 90 (2020).