Dental Care & Your Pet

February is Dental Health Month! Dental health is more than just expensive dental cleanings and elderly pets with bad teeth. We can prevent these problems starting today! Here’s how…

The first step is brushing your pet’s teeth.  Your pet doesn’t remember to brush their teeth twice daily like we do, as a result, tartar builds up and dental disease ensues. Regular teeth brushing, 2-3 times a week, can prevent tartar build up and dental disease. Of course, your pet isn’t going to enjoy this at first, but with time and training this can become and easy process for you!

Begin by selecting your tools. I recommend using animal tooth paste; human toothpaste has some ingredients that aren’t healthy for pets. We have multiple flavors here for you convenience like chicken, beef, vanilla, and fish. As far as the toothbrush goes, you can use your retired toothbrush or a soft bristled toothbrush.

Now that you have the necessary tools, begin by repeating this process daily. Apply toothpaste to your finger. As your pet licks the toothpaste from your finger, gently wipe the toothpaste across the front of the teeth. Eventually your pet will allow you to rub more teeth as though you’re brushing the teeth. Pair this with a treat. Once you feel your pet has mastered this, upgrade to using a washcloth instead of your finger. Again, once they have mastered this, use your toothbrush. Pairing this with a dental chew once daily or at least 2-3 times a week can prevent dental disease.

It is best to begin this as a kitten or a puppy. However, you can teach old dogs new tricks and begin the training process after a professional dental cleaning to get you off to a productive start.  As far as pairing your brushing routine with a treat, we really recommend Oravet dental chews. Oravet are treats that are taffy like in consistency, and repel tartar and dissolve build up. The treats are vanilla mint in flavor, which is very handy for stinky dog breath! The treats come in 4 convenient sizes according to your dog’s size and weight. These are better than other dental treats because of their ability to seal the teeth from tartar build up and their consistency forces pets to eat them slowly.  We have a gel form of Oravet that can be used after teeth brushing for cats. This gel will only need to be applied every 2 weeks.

There are other ways to prevent dental disease in pets. Routine exams and dental cleanings are necessary for some pets. Just like with humans, some pets are more prone to dental disease than others. There are prescription diets available to prevent tartar build up as well. The kibbles are designed to break apart tartar when chewed.

Professional dental cleanings are sometimes necessary for pets that have severe dental disease, tooth root abscesses or broken teeth. Dental cleanings are done under anesthesia because unfortunately pets aren’t as cooperative as we are at the dentist. As far as cost, they are expensive. Pets don’t have insurance like humans do, and going under anesthesia is a cost for the clinic. You are investing in your pet’s well being. Professional dental cleanings are worth the cost because the secondary problems associated with poor dental care can be detrimental. Heart disease, tooth root abscesses, and inappetence are all secondary to dental disease.

In summation, it is easy to prevent dental disease. With a little time and training your pet will accept a regular brushing routine that works both for you and your pet. Professional dental cleanings can be expensive but through preventative care and regular monitoring, the cost can lessen. It is necessary for your pet to have routine wellness exams to monitor your pets overall health, as well as their dental health. In celebration of Dental Health Month, schedule a dental consultation with one of our veterinarians! We’ll be happy you came!

Thanks for reading!

Your Friendly Neighborhood Vet Tech, CVJ

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