Pet Dental Health TipsLangley Animal Clinic
We all want what is best for our pets and do what we can to keep them safe and healthy. We keep them well fed, we clean and groom them, we trim their claws when needed, and we look after their health with vaccinations and check-ups. But one of the things that can be easy to overlook is their dental health.
It’s easy to see when our pets need grooming. We can tell when their claws get long. It’s obvious when they are feeling unwell. When it comes to dental care, we might not think much of it until there is a problem. But just as with humans, pet dental care is important to their overall well-being. Despite that, 70% of cats and 80% of dogs over the age of three have dental disease. Poor dental health can have the following effects:
- Halitosis (bad breath). Your pet’s breath may not always be fresh, but when it makes you recoil or even gag, it needs to be addressed.
- Pain. Dental disease can become quite painful. You may notice a change in appetite or chewing, swollen gums, or even a display of protective behaviour.
- Tooth Loss. Your pet could lose teeth as the structure supporting them becomes infected.
- Organ Damage. Plaque in your pet’s mouth contains bacteria that may enter the bloodstream and travel to other parts of the body such as the liver, kidneys, or heart, making them sick.
Aside from bad breath, some other signs of poor oral health include bleeding gums, yellow or brown crust on the tooth surface, and drooling. Should you observe any of these signs, an appointment should be made right away to prevent further deterioration.
Some of the more common questions regarding pet dental care include:
- How often should we brush a pet’s teeth? Ideally, it should be done after meals, or at least daily. It may take some time for you and your pet to adjust, so even once a week to start will help. From there, increase the frequency.
- What do I do if my pet hates brushing? It is perfectly understandable if your pet doesn’t like a sudden change to their routine which involves sticking a brush in their mouths. Just be patient and take things slowly, giving them a chance to adapt.
- What effect does diet have? Wet food poses the highest risk of dental issues. Kibble is in theory a bit better as chewing can help remove bacteria, but not all pets chew thoroughly, and we all know pets that don’t seem to chew at all. Talk to your veterinarian about which food may work best for your pet’s oral care.
- Are there products that can replace brushing? Some products promote themselves as being “like a toothbrush” for your pet, but nothing replaces the real thing. These products can act as a supplement when brushing is difficult to accomplish, but they should never be the primary method of cleaning your pet’s teeth.
If you are struggling to clean your pet’s teeth, you may find it easier to use a finger toothbrush or dental wipes. Approach your pet when they are calm and more receptive, and stick to comfortable, familiar locations. Be patient and understand that this is a learning process for both of you.
Following a conscientious dental program with your pet at home can greatly improve your pet’s dental health, which will result in fewer professional cleanings, and a happier pet. Remember, however, that nothing can replace an in-depth professional cleaning, especially for breeds predisposed to dental disease or when your pet is already showing signs of decay.
Be sure to contact us when you need to make an appointment or need to learn more about your pet’s dental health.