Pet Dental Care Basics
We all love to cuddle and snuggle with our pets. Do you sometimes struggle to do that because you find their bad breath unbearable? Just like humans, our pets need regular dental care to keep their breath fresh and their teeth and gums healthy and disease-free.
Are you brushing your dog’s teeth? Do you know that ideally your pet needs its teeth cleaned at least once a day? Without regular brushing or dental care, food particles, plaque, and bacteria result in overall poor health. You could be doing everything else right, but by neglecting dental hygiene you could be shortening your beloved pet’s life.
Why Is Pet Dental Care So Important?
Studies have shown that without good dental hygiene, by the age of three years, 70% of both dogs and cats develop periodontal disease that requires medical treatment or tooth extraction.
Periodontal disease and gingivitis (diseased gums), most often a result of poor oral hygiene, are preventable. Aside from bad breath, they can indirectly result in serious conditions like:
- Heart disease
- Hypertension (High blood pressure)
- Renal disease
- Liver disease
- Blood infections
- Bone infections
Providing Basic Pet Dental Care at Home
Feeding your dog a balanced canine diet and giving them dental chews recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council, is a good start to good dental care, however it is not a replacement for brushing your dog’s teeth. Oral sprays and drinking water additives also help with dental hygiene, but they too, must not replace a regular brushing routine.
How To Brush Your Dog’s Teeth
It is never too late to start brushing your dog’s teeth, but starting as a puppy may make the task easier. At first, it may be a battle, but being patient and remaining calm will reap its rewards. Here are some helpful tips to get started:
- Always use pet-specific toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste.
- To start, put the toothpaste on your finger and let your dog lick it off. You may need to do this for a day or two, especially if your dog shows little interest in tasting it.
- The next step is to put some toothpaste on a soft bristle brush/finger brush. Once again, just let them lick the toothpaste off.
- Once they have licked it off the brush a few times, try putting the brush in their mouth. Do not try to brush their teeth yet, just gently move the brush around in their mouth. Speak nicely to your dog throughout the process.
- Once they are used to the brush in their mouth, start brushing their teeth. Gradually increase the brushing time, ensuring that you do not fight with, or stress your dog. Do not forget to brush the back teeth.
Get into a routine of brushing your dog’s teeth once a day, and reward them with a treat afterward. Your dog will soon get used to the process and may even start looking forward to it.
When Should You Consult a Vet For Advice?
Even if you care for your pet’s teeth at home, they may still develop an infection or tooth abscess. These are the times when you will need to seek a veterinarian. Your dog will require a professional consultation if you notice any of the following:
- Your dog has persistent bad breath, even after you have brushed its teeth.
- You notice a change in their eating/chewing habits. A painful tooth could cause loss of appetite and mouth discomfort.
- They may paw at their mouth or face.
- Excessive drooling
- Discolored, broken, or missing teeth.
- Misaligned teeth – especially if you haven’t noticed this before.
- Unusual bumps or growths in their mouth.
- A yellowish or brown tartar crust along their gum line.
- Red, swollen or bleeding gums.
How A Vet Will Care for Your Pet’s Teeth
All pet owners should prioritize their pet’s dental care and should schedule a dental check-up with a veterinarian, at least once a year. If your dog is prone to dental problems, a bi-annual visit may be recommended.
At the check-up, the vet will carefully examine the teeth and gums for any plaque, tartar, or signs of disease. If problems are detected, the vet may recommend that your dog be placed under anesthesia for a cleaning and/or extractions. Reasons a dog may require anesthesia include:
- The vet was unable to inspect the mouth properly as the dog was anxious or aggressive.
- Tooth extraction is necessary.
- Radiographs are needed to examine the gum line and jaw.
- The teeth need scaling and polishing.
All Aboard Animal Hospital Cares About Your Pets Dental Care
Do you need advice and guidance on canine dental hygiene? At All Aboard Animal Hospital in Pompano Beach, we treat your pets like the valued family members they are. If you are looking for high-quality veterinary care in a relaxed and friendly setting call us Monday to Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at (945)-785-7780. We are closed on Saturdays and Sundays.
For more information about our facility and veterinary services, look us up on Facebook and Instagram.