Pets are important members of our families, and they are entirely dependent on us for their well-being. Besides providing food, shelter and safety, a critical part of caring for our pets is keeping them healthy, and good dental health is vital to their overall health. February is National Pet Dental Health Month, which reminds us of the significant role pet dentistry plays in keeping our pets disease-free.
Good oral hygiene is as essential for pets as it is for humans. Teeth cleaning plays a crucial role in our furry friends' preventative health care and should be part of a daily maintenance plan to reduce plaque and tartar buildup before they lead to periodontal disease. Signs that your pal may have oral health issues that require attention include:
• Bleeding gums
• Loss of appetite
• Bad breath
• Pawing of the face
• Excessive drooling
Although a significant number of pets experience some degree of periodontal disease by the time they reach adulthood, it is possible to minimize the damage with sufficient attention to good hygiene. Keeping your friend's mouth bacteria-free at all times is impossible but preventing oral bacteria from spreading to other areas of the body is a manageable task.
Achieving good oral health for your pet involves steps similar to those you take to care for your mouth or your children's mouths. An effective maintenance plan should include the following:
Daily brushing is the most important aspect of teeth maintenance. Some pet owners consider this to be a daunting task, but in reality, it can help you bond with your best friend. Dogs and cats can benefit equally from having their teeth cleaned with a small, soft-bristled toothbrush specially designed for their mouths. A small amount of flavorful pet-friendly toothpaste can be an excellent enticement and is suitable for swallowing, unlike the toothpaste you use, which is inappropriate for your dog or cat.
For first-time brushing, it helps to acclimate your pet to having a toothbrush in its mouth. Allow your dog or cat to lick a tasty treat off the brush to associate this new object with something enjoyable. When you are both ready, start to brush as you would brush your teeth. Hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and use small circular motions for approximately 30 seconds throughout the mouth while looking for red flags, including bleeding or cracked teeth.
It is possible to find a wide variety of teeth cleaning treats designed to eliminate plaque. These products are suitable for ingestion, and most dogs and cats enjoy chewing or eating them, with little awareness of the positive impact they have on their oral health.
Pet parents should refrain from offering their four-legged family members bones that can fragment and harm the digestive tract if swallowed. Commercial products made from pig ears and cow hooves can be too hard for delicate teeth and lead to breakage.
Everyday objects, including tennis balls or wooden sticks, can wear away enamel or lead to digestive tract obstruction. Your veterinarian can recommend a chew treat to promote good dental health.
Adding a small amount of a bacteria-killing solution to your pal's water bowl helps prevent ingestion of harmful bacteria and bathe the teeth with plaque-reducing germ fighters. Flavorless solutions that pets can ingest are efficient and will not meet resistance, plus they have the added benefit of promoting fresh breath.
Despite rigorous at-home efforts to clean your pet's teeth, nothing can replace the in-depth cleaning that a veterinary dentist can provide. Dentistry for pets begins with preventative measures to ensure your dog or cat retains its adult teeth throughout its lifetime.
A veterinary dentist should perform a thorough cleaning approximately once per year to scrape away tartar that builds up below the gum line. The dentist will also examine your pet's mouth for signs of decay and periodontal disease that could cause tooth loss and look for abnormalities that could be symptoms of systemic diseases or lead to them.
Preventative dental care involves rigorous teeth cleaning measures as early as possible to ensure your pet's pearly whites last a lifetime. To learn more about dentistry services for your pet, schedule a time to speak with one of our veterinary professionals.