Your cat or dog is just as reliant on having healthy, functional teeth as you are. Without them, not only will her ability to eat be compromised, but she may also feel vulnerable and frightened, since they form part of her natural defence mechanism.
As a caring and compassionate owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your pet’s teeth remain in the best condition possible. To help you support the dental health of your furry friend, here are our top 5 tips to dog and cat dental hygiene.
Brush your pet’s teeth as often as you can
While your furbaby won’t develop tooth decay quite like we do, they can still accumulate plaque and tartar on the tops of their teeth along where they meet the gums. If this not cleared regularly, it can start to penetrate the soft tissue of the gums and cause periodontal disease.
Periodontal disease is the biggest dental problem facing cats and dogs, and it is estimated that around 70% of our pets will have some degree of the condition by the time they reach their third birthday. Periodontal disease has been shown to directly contribute to the development of serious dental problems such as abscesses and tooth loss, as well as general health conditions including diabetes, cardiovascular disease and oral cancers. As such, you should make brushing regularly to help prevent your pet from suffering from this condition a priority.
Use the right equipment
You can only do a great job of cleaning your pet’s teeth if you use the right tools! While you can buy specialist veterinary toothbrushes, a small-headed human brush with soft bristles works just as well. Some owners even prefer to use baby toothbrushes. In addition to this you need a good toothpaste, but never use human varieties as these contain ingredients that are known to be toxic to animals. Instead, buy a veterinary brand from your pet store. It may be a case of trial and error to find a taste that your pet likes – pop a bit on your finger and let her lick it. If she finishes it and comes back for more, you are good to go!
Use dental treats and biscuits
There are many different treats and biscuits now available and these are normally formulated with ingredients that are shown to benefit dental health, strengthening teeth and fighting disease. Abrasive biscuits also help to mimic a natural cleaning action, helping to rid your pet’s teeth of food debris and bacteria before it can cause them any damage.
Encourage chewing – the right things!
You may think that chewing is a habit that you want to discourage, but in actual fact it is a great way to help protect your pet’s teeth and ensure she has great dental hygiene. This is because chewing stimulates the production of saliva, which can help fight dental problems by neutralizing any acids and washing away bacteria and food debris that causes plaque to form. If you choose an abrasive chew toy, it will also again mimic a brushing action and help to keep your pet’s teeth in tip top condition! Just be sure not to give your furbaby too many chewing options that this can lead her to think that anything is fair game for her teeth! Instead, stick with one or two robust chew toys and encourage her to focus her attention on these.
Visit your veterinarian regularly
Just like we need to visit a dentist to check on the condition of our teeth, your pet will benefit hugely by having dental check-ups with your vet. Your professional will have the training and experience to be able to spot potential problems early, enabling them to be treated before they have a significant impact on the health and happiness of your furbaby. Your vet can also perform a professional dental clean – a thorough cleaning that is carried out by your vet while your cat or dog is under the effects of a general anesthetic. In doing this, your pet will remain completely still for the duration of the clean, allowing your vet to do a thorough clean of her teeth that is simply impossible to achieve while your beloved animal is still awake!
For more information, do not hesitate to contact us at Shores Animal Hospital in Gainesville, Florida.