Toothache and gingivitis know no one, animal or human. Here’s a guide to help you keep your pet’s teeth and gums happy and healthy.
Many pet owners tend to overlook their pets’ bad breath and dismiss it as normal. In fact, bad breath along with sore or bleeding gums are warning signs that your dog or cat has painful periodontitis. When it comes to the importance of your pet’s dental hygiene, it’s about more than a pretty smile. Good dental health not only helps your pet eat comfortably, but also contributes to the overall health of the pet. While pet dental care is often myopic, establishing good dental habits early on will pay dividends for your pet throughout their life.
Just like humans, pets need regular brushing to win the lifelong battle against plaque. When your pet eats, plaque forms, which eventually hardens into the calcified substance we know as tartar. If plaque is your pet’s nemesis, then tartar is their sworn enemy. Tartar not only irritates the gums, but also becomes a playground for bacteria.
Left untreated, the gums become inflamed and pull out of the teeth, forming pockets that contain, you guessed it, even more harmful bacteria. As gum disease progresses, gums may bleed, the roots of your pet’s teeth may be exposed, teeth may decay, and your pet may feel pain while eating their dinner. Over time, these bacteria can enter your pet’s bloodstream and lead to liver and kidney problems. It’s vicious, painful, and disgusting. But it’s also very preventable.
Pay attention to the warning signs
It’s not difficult to spot problems with your pet’s teeth and gums when they develop. Warning signs are clear. The trick is to learn not to reject them. Here are some of the most common warning signs.
tenderness around the mouth
loss of appetite
Yellow or brown deposits on the teeth
Bleeding, inflammation, and retraction of the gums
Tooth loss or loss
Scratchy mouth or face
learn to clean
It’s never too early to get familiar with your pet’s old tooth brushing routine. With praise and some tasty treats, brushing your teeth quickly becomes a bonding experience.
1. Start by rubbing your pet’s teeth with a soft gauze swab. Wrap the gauze around your finger to keep it in place while rubbing. This will introduce your pet to the process of brushing their teeth.
2. Work your way down to the pet’s toothbrush. Toothbrushes specifically designed for cats and dogs, as well as toothpaste, are available at most pet stores. Do not use human toothpaste.
3. Concentrate on the gum line. The line where the teeth meet the gums is the most important area to rub.
4. Spend 30 seconds brushing each side of your mouth a few times a week.
Seek veterinary help
A veterinarian not only helps with serious dental emergencies, but also with routine care. Regular check-ups are essential to closely monitor your dog or cat’s dental health. Your veterinarian may also recommend prophylaxis—a cleansing procedure that requires medication and/or sedatives. If your pet has a more serious condition, your veterinarian may recommend the appropriate treatment — a tooth extraction, for example.
If your pet just can’t take a toothbrush, ask your vet about alternative ways to slow plaque buildup between check-ups.
Consider switching to dry food
Although dry food isn’t nearly as effective as brushing, it can help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. In addition, there is a range of foods, sweets and games specifically designed to promote dental health. Check the Veterinary Oral Health Council’s seal of approval to ensure it meets the high standards for effective plaque and tartar control.