Did you know that 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three? That’s a pretty astounding fact for pet owners. Keeping your pet’s teeth healthy isn’t always an easy job, but it’s an important part of being a pet parent. Having your pet’s yearly dental exam is imperative to your pet’s health because dental disease can lead to systemic problems in your pet including heart, liver and kidney disease. Home dental care is one of the best ways to keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. We know this can be difficult, so we’ve put together some pointers that can help you maintain a healthy mouth for your pet.
Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
- Choose a pet toothpaste your pet will love. They come in many different flavors, so try a few and see which your pet likes the best. Pet toothpaste have enzymes in them that help to break down tartar. These enzymes coupled with the manual removal of tartar when your brushing helps to keep their teeth healthy.
- Introduce brushing slowly – You want to make your pet comfortable and not stress them out. Start by rubbing your finger or piece of gauze on your pet’s teeth. This will help get them to use to you touching and handling their mouth and teeth. Make sure you to make these sessions short and positive; giving them lots of verbal praise when they’re calm and relax as your doing this.
- Introduce a pet toothpaste as human toothpaste can cause an upset stomach in your furry friend. Let them lick the toothpaste off your finger and get used to the flavor. Then you can start applying it to their teeth.
- You can replace a soft toothbrush designed for pets or a baby toothbrush once they are receptive to your finger or you can continue with using gauze. Again, do this in short sessions and remember to praise them.
- Now you’re ready to start brushing their teeth with the toothpaste and brush/gauze. Make sure your toothbrush or finger is at a 45-degree angle as you brush. If your pet resists, just do one or two teeth in the beginning and build yourself up to brushing their whole mouth. Keep with making this a positive experience and continue to praise them.
- Focus on the side of the tooth that faces you. Use circular motions as you brush each tooth. Don’t worry about brushing the side of the tooth that faces inside your pet’s tongue. Their tongue constantly in contact with this side of the teeth helps to keep tartar build up at bay.
Dental Rinses: Rinses help fight plaque, maintain oral health, and freshen breath. They can be used with or without brushing and come in different size bottles. Talk to your veterinarian to see which one is best for your pet.
Dental Chews and Toys: As your pet chews on these specially designed dental chews and toys, they are helping to rub the tartar off their teeth, which mimics the action of brushing.
Dental Diets: These specially formulated diets help scrub away plaque as your pet eats them. They also help to reduce tartar, stain and build up and reduce bad breath. Talk to your veterinarian about beginning a dental diet for your pet.
Dental Cleaning: Ideally, pets should have dental cleaning once a year or as recommended by your veterinarian. During the procedure, your pet will be placed under anesthesia and their teeth will be thoroughly cleaned. Dental x-rays may be taken to see if there is any infection or damage below the gum line, fractures or cavities in the teeth. Extraction of diseased teeth may also be discussed with you and performed during the procedure.
Dental health is important to the overall care of your pet. Now that you’ve gotten some great tips, you can start ensuring your pet will have a healthy mouth at their next vet check up!