As humans, it is recommended that we go to the dentist annually or semi annually. We are also taught to brush our teeth daily and floss regularly. Oral health is an important component of our overall health. Do you feel the same way about your pet? Did you know your pet’s teeth are also an essential part of their health? By taking care of your pet’s teeth and overall health, you can dramatically increase their lifespan and quality of life – as well as give them the gift of fresh breath. Here are 4 good ways to help improve your pet’s dental care and help improve their life with you.
Dental treats can be a great way to help improve your pet’s oral health. Not all dental treats are created equal. It is important to find one that is not only safe for your pet, but actually effective in promoting oral health. The Veterinary Oral Health Council has a list of proven effective treats that are safe and proven effective. By incorporating these into your pet’s daily or weekly routine, you can help improve their oral care and slow the progression of dental tartar over time. For the full list of VOHC certified products, click here.
Brushing your pet’s teeth is the number one way to help prevent progression of periodontal disease and help improve your pet’s oral health. There are many commercial products available, but brushing can be performed with a simple children’s soft bristled toothbrush and some warm water or even using a wet washcloth. If you are using toothpaste, it is important to use pet formulated toothpaste to prevent toxicity. The best way to train your pet to brush their teeth is to start slow, with positive reinforcement. Start by touching your pet’s lip, then offering them a treat. Do this for several days in a row in multiple short sessions. Then, work your way to lifting their lip for several sessions, then touching their teeth for several sessions. Always reward your pet for good behavior and keep the sessions short. If your pet seems uncomfortable at any step, stop and regroup and go back to the beginning. Once your pet is comfortable, introduce your wash cloth or toothbrush with a small amount of treat on it or warm water. Be sure to reward your pet during and after each session and keep them short. By brushing your pet’s teeth, ideally daily but even once weekly, your pet will reap the benefits of improved oral health and quality time with you.
For pets that are sensitive about their mouth or are picky, water additives can be a great adjunct oral health tool. These products contain enzymes that can help break down tartar and can slow build up over time. Like dental treats, it is important to choose a product that has the VOHC seal of approval and is made for your pet. Be sure to follow the instructions as directed. Introduce the water additive gradually over time to allow your pet to adjust to it. If any stomach upset occurs, we recommend contacting your veterinarian.
Finally, the most important way to ensure your pet’s oral health is by working with your veterinarian. At each examination, your veterinarian will examine your pet’s teeth and oral cavity for tartar, infection, or other potential issues. If any are noted, your pet may recommend a dental cleaning. Because dogs and cats do not sit still while people do, dental cleanings are performed under general anesthesia. Your veterinarian will probe your pet’s teeth, polish them, and make note of any issues. X-rays may be taken to examine the underlying tooth and assess for any issues under the gums. If any of your pet’s teeth are infected or broken, extractions may be recommended. Your veterinarian will work with you to provide the best care possible for your pet.
After your pet receives a dental cleaning, a good oral health care plan for your pet is crucial to slow the progression of tartar over time and to keep them healthy. By creating a multimodal oral health care routine for your pet, you can help keep their breath smelling fresh, improve their lifespan and help them stay as healthy as possible.
At Weddington Animal Hospital, we strive to provide the best care possible for you and your pet. If you have any questions regarding your pet’s oral health or dental cleanings, please feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at 704-847-8466.