Here at THRIVE, we wanted to share some more information about Dental Care for your pets, especially our canine friends. While February’s Dental month is over, it’s important to know the dangers of going without dental care for your pets.

Signs of Dental Disease In Your Pet

  • Bad Breath — probably means some type of dental disease is going on
  • Broken teeth
  • Extra teeth (a lot of teeth in a small space)
  • Discoloration of teeth (brown, gray, even black)
  • Dropping of food when eating
  • Sensitivity when petting around the face
  • Bleeding from mouth

Annual exams are recommended annually to ensure your pet’s teeth are in tip top shape.

Why Your Pet Requires Regular Dental Care

Although people brush and floss at least once daily to keep their teeth and gums healthy, most pet owners do not realize that dental care for their pets is just as important. In fact, veterinary experts say that more than 85% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of three are affected by periodontal disease. The pain and tooth loss caused by this disease can be easily avoided with regular dental care.

Canine and Feline Periodontal Disease

The cause for periodontal disease is the same for pets as for humans. Plaque formed over the teeth must be cleaned away or it will lead to tartar buildup and eventual tooth and tissue decay. If infection goes untreated, the bacteria may enter the bloodstream and affect the heart, liver and kidneys. Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth to remove plaque not only cleans the teeth, but also brings attention to any issues that may require medical intervention, such as loose teeth or painful areas. With regular brushing, dental cleanings under anesthesia are needed much less frequently.

Dogs and cats that have dental pain or bleeding gums usually continue to behave and eat normally, and therefore tartar buildup and other problems may go undetected for a long period of time. Regular dental care at home is crucial to keeping teeth and the whole body healthy.  

How to Keep Your Pet’s Teeth Healthy

If you have a puppy or kitten, this is a great time to make daily dental hygiene a part of regular pet grooming and handling. Older pets may need a bit more patience and training as they can be set in their ways. Take your time and ease into a gentle dental routine that is comfortable for both you and your pet. Sometimes it is helpful to brush teeth prior to the evening meal so the pet is “rewarded” with food for sitting still. While daily brushing is best, there are no strict rules to follow as long as you make oral health a priority.

There are many different toothbrushes available for pet oral care, and the style is really up to you and your pet. Some people opt for a toothbrush that fits over their finger for maximum control. If you choose to use toothpaste, it must be pet-safe toothpaste that is formulated for animals and isn’t harmful when ingested (as human toothpaste is). The most important part is the mechanical removal of plaque, which can be done just as easily with a plain toothbrush and water.

Dogs of all ages love to chew.

Gnawing on a chew toy or a bone is good for your pet, and the process frees the teeth of dirt and plaque. Chew toys and bones must be flexible and not too hard or too small, or they may become a choking hazard. Even cats like to chew on certain toys and treats. Check to make sure the the products you choose for your pet have been approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), and ask your veterinarian for more tips and tricks. Together you can make sure your pet faces the world with a bright, healthy smile!