The beginning of February kicked off National Pet Dental Health Month, an initiative promoted by several veterinary groups, including the American Veterinary Medical Association, to encourage pet owners to practice good oral care for their four-legged friends.
For animals, the risks of neglecting dental health are similar to those for humans. When a pet experiences tooth or gum pain, he may change his eating habits for the worse. And more advanced dental complications, such as periodontal disease, can lead to heart, liver, and kidney problems.
And as a bonus for owners, caring for a pet’s dental health can also help to control that dreaded kitty and canine breath.
While vets can help with deep cleaning, daily care is essential too. To get started, ask your vet for tips on getting your pet used to brushing.
If your pet is (understandably!) resistant to having his teeth brushed, try to help your pet think that tooth brushing is a treat. A treat before and after brushing can help establish this daily routine in your pet’s schedule of Things To Look Forward To Today.
And although daily brushing might seem too frequent, the reason is that dental plaque (which is brushable) mineralizes into to un-brushable dental calculus in 12 to 72 hours. This plaque is what causes periodontal disease, so you want to get rid of it as frequently as possible.
Start with the specially formulated pet products that don’t foam but do taste good (to your dog) and contain enzymes against bacteria that damage teeth. Some pet-friendly toothpastes, such as Triple Pet EZ Dog Pet Toothpaste, will work with several brands of pet toothbrushes.
And never use toothpastes made for humans because fluoride can damage your pet’s liver.
If your pet is resistant to toothbrushes designed for animals, get a pet toothbrush that fits over your finger — for better control and less gagging. The Petrodex Finger Toothbrush for Dogs & Cats is an easy-to-use device that helps to keep your pet calm during brushing.
But what if your pet simply hates brushing? Fortunately, some products on the market help maintain good dental health if daily brushings are sending your pet hiding under the bed.
For example, the Farnam Easy Brush for Dogs allows canines to clean their own teeth with a “chew-it-yourself” toothbrush design. Shaped like a bone, the bristles of the brush help to clean your dog’s teeth while making him think he’s getting a special chew toy.
And for skittish felines, Dental Fresh for Cats provides a convenient, simple way to help keep your kitty’s mouth clean and control bad breath. Just a teaspoon for every eight ounces of drinking water helps to protect teeth and gums between deep vet cleanings.
Summer Valley Veterinary Clinic
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