Pet dental health tips
by Ontario SPCA and Humane Society | General Pet Care | February 2, 2023
February is Pet Dental Health Month! Our furry friends need clean gums and teeth just like humans do. Read our top five tips to keep your furry friend’s smile sparkling and clean all year round.
Oral care is an important part of maintaining the overall health of your dog or cat. Bacteria and plaque can harden on your animal’s teeth to form tartar, which can result in gingivitis, receding gums, pain and tooth loss. Dental problems not only affect your animal’s teeth; if left untreated, dental infections can spread to the heart, kidneys and other vital organs.
Ease regular brushing into your daily care regime. Brushing is the best way to prevent tartar build-up and gum disease. The Ontario SPCA recommends brushing three to four times a week. There are also some rinses and gels on the market for pets that contain xylitol, which is actually toxic. The Ontario SPCA also recommends only using products that are VOHC approved.
Animals can wriggle and squirm when it comes to having their teeth cleaned, so timing is key: scheduling tooth brushing after physical activity can make the process easier. Cats and dogs will usually tolerate having their teeth cleaned if the process is introduced gently and gradually.
Use the right tools
Use a toothbrush and toothpaste specially designed for animals, or you may prefer to use either a finger brush or clean gauze wrapped around your finger. There are also a number of products that promote oral health in animals, including gels, rinses, teeth-cleaning kibble or textured chew toys. Make sure to never use human toothpastes or rinses for your furry friend.
You should check your furry friend’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, loss of appetite, drooling or changes in behaviour. Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect any mouth problems or if you have any questions about how to brush your companion animal’s teeth, selecting the right products, or for tips on how to keep your furry friend’s teeth clean.
Schedule regular checkups with your vet
During regular visits to the vet, your furry friend’s teeth are examined, and recommendations will be made regarding their dental health and needs. Sometimes animals will periodically require professional scaling and examination of their teeth under general anesthesia.
Avoid too many treats
Just like humans, too many treats are bad for animals. Animals should never be given candy of any kind. Chocolate and sorbitol-sweetened candy is toxic to dogs.
Read our blog, 10 foods that are harmful for dogs.
Dental disease in animals is generally slow to develop and often preventable. By adding regular oral care into your daily care regime, you can keep your furry friend happy and healthy.
I stand behind SPCA with my monthly gift
I stand behind SPCA with my monthly gift. I am so happy there are folks like you to care for those who can’t help themselves. My family and I have had animals all our lives and know what a comfort they are. Thank you SPCA.