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Why Your Pet Needs Dental Care, Too

Tue, 06 Feb 2018 by Linda Rosado

We Brush Our Teeth, So Why Not Brush Our Pet’s? 

As a responsible pet owner, you feed your dog, take them for long walks, play fetch endlessly, and scoop their #2 with a dog bag from the neighborhood doggie station. But, as you may or may not know, there’s something missing from list that keeps our pups happy and healthy.

Many pet owners don’t realize our pets need the same amount of oral routine maintenance as we do. Brushing your teeth is engrained into your daily routine—you wake up in the morning and brush your teeth and then later in the evening you brush your teeth again and go to bed. We uphold our oral hygiene to such high standards but what about our other (furry) family members?

If you don’t take care of your pet’s oral hygiene as well as you take care of yours, now is a great time to start. The month of February is National Pet Dental Health Month, and there’s no better way to celebrate than buying a pet toothbrush and scrubbing down those pearly whites. 

Taking Care of Your Pet’s Teeth Is Important

You may be wondering why it’s so important for your pet to have minty, fresh breath. Even though stinky breath is a total mood kill, your pet’s dental health entails much more than that.

If you don’t properly take care of your pup’s mouth, it can lead to some serious health problems. Without routine maintenance, your pet can start to build up bacterial plaque along its gum lines, which can lead to gingivitis. And if the gingivitis isn’t treated, this can then cause periodontitis disease, an inflammation of the deep tissues surrounding the teeth. In the most severe cases, this infection can spread to other parts of body, including the heart and kidneys.

No mom or dad ever wants to see their furry children in any type of pain. To keep your pets as healthy as possible, follow the suggestions and tips below to maintain their dental health. 

Take Your Pet to a Dentist Yearly

Your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked once a year by a vet, who is also your pet’s dentist. However, you shouldn’t wait a year if your pet has any of these problems:

  • Bad breath
  • Loose or broken teeth
  • Baby teeth or extra teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Teeth covered in tartar
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Abnormal chewing or drooling
  • Reduced appetite
  • Pain around or in the mouth

Make sure you schedule an appointment to get your pup in before his checkup is overdue. At your pet’s routine dentist checkup, the appointment starts similar to when we go to the dentist. Your vet will examine your pet’s mouth for common dental issues like plaque or discolored teeth. After the basic examination, your pet will have to go under anesthesia for a more thorough exam, a teeth cleaning and polishing. Afterwards, your vet may or may not apply fluoride, and then your pup will be on its way back into your arms.  

Brush Your Pet’s Teeth: A Step-by-Step Guide

dental hygiene for dogs

Outside of the yearly dental appointment, brushing your pet’s teeth daily is the most effective thing you can do to prevent and protect your dog’s oral health. If you don’t think you can pencil in daily brushing into your schedule, weekly brushing is also effective. Here’s how you can get your pet to cleaner and shinier teeth:

Step 1: Find a doggie-friendly toothpaste your pet likes. Don’t use human toothpaste on their teeth.

Step 2: Start offering the toothpaste as a reward to your pet so they can learn to like the flavor. 

Step 3: After a couple of days rewarding your pet with toothpaste, place a small amount on your finger and brush their teeth with it.

Step 4: After about a week of brushing with your finger, introduce a pet toothbrush. At this point, your pet should be used to the toothpaste and brushing motion.

It’s normal if your pet is a little resistant to the toothpaste and brushing. But with a little persistence and diligence on your part, your dog will eventually accept it as part of their daily routine. 

Other Ways to Preserve Your Pet’s Dental Health

There are toys, treats, rawhide chews and specialty foods that can help keep your pet’s teeth clean. However, you should use these in addition to brushing their teeth rather than a replacement. When you’re buying these toys or treats, make sure you look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval, so you know it’s a quality product. 

By taking care of your pet’s dental health, you’re helping care for its overall health. If you don’t have a daily oral routine in place for your pet, buy toothpaste and a toothbrush and start implementing it today. Proper oral hygiene means a longer and happier life for your furry children. 

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