Every morning and each night we humans spend time taking care of our teeth. But what about our pets? How can their teeth and gums stay healthy if we don’t give them the same care? To help our pets maintain dental health, we explore the five W’s of good oral care for pets.
Why is oral care important for our pets?
Oral care is an important part of maintaining the overall health of your dog or cat. Bacteria and plaque can harden on your pet’s teeth to form tartar, which can mean gingivitis, receding gums, pain and tooth loss. Dental problems not only affect your pet’s teeth; if left untreated dental infections can spread to the heart, kidneys and other vital organs.
What can I do?
Regular brushing is the gold standard to prevent tartar build-up and gum disease. Use a toothbrush and toothpaste specially designed for pets, or you may prefer to use either a finger brush or clean gauze wrapped around your finger. Cats and dogs will usually tolerate having their teeth cleaned if the process is introduced gently and gradually. There are also a number of products that promote oral health in pets, including gels, rinses, teeth-cleaning kibble or textured chew toys. Make sure to never use human tooth pastes or rinses for your pet.
When do I brush their teeth?
Brush three to four times a week to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Pets can be fidgety when it comes to having their teeth cleaned, so timing their tooth brushing after physical activity can make the process easier.
Where do signs of oral disease show up?
You should check your pet’s mouth once a week to make sure gums are pink, not white or red, and teeth are clean without signs of brownish tartar. There are other clues that may indicate possible mouth problems, like exceptionally bad breath, excessive drinking or urinating, loss of appetite, or vomiting.
Who can you talk to if you suspect a problem?
Talk to your veterinarian or veterinary hospital staff if you suspect any mouth problems or if you have any questions about how to brush your pet’s teeth, selecting the right products, or for tips on how to keep your pet’s teeth clean.
Dental disease in pets is usually slow to develop and very preventable. By following proper oral care, you can easily avoid any future discomfort as well as an expensive vet bill down the road.