The 5 Ws of oral care

by | General Pet Care |

Every morning and each night we humans spend time taking care of our teeth. But what about our furry friends? How can their teeth and gums stay healthy if we don’t give them the same care? To help our companion animals maintain good dental health, we explore the five W’s of good oral care for our animals.

Why is oral care important for our furry friends?

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 mean gingivitis, receding gums, pain  and tooth loss. Dental problems not only affect your companion animal’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 animals, or you may prefer to use either a finger brush or clean piece of 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 furry friends, including gels, rinses, teeth-cleaning kibble or textured chew toys. Speak to your veterinarian about the best approach and product for your animal. Make sure to never use human toothpaste or rinses for your animal.

When do I brush their teeth?

Brush three to four times a week to maintain healthy teeth and gums. Animals 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 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, excessive drinking or urinating, loss of appetite, or vomiting.

Who can you talk to if you suspect a problem?

Talk to your veterinarian if you suspect any mouth problems, or if you have any questions about how to brush your furry friend’s teeth, selecting the right products, or for tips on how to keep your animal’s teeth clean.

Dental disease in animals is usually slow to develop and very preventable. By following proper oral care, you can easily avoid any future discomfort as well as a costly vet bill down the road.