Routine oral hygiene care is an essential part of your pet's overall health and well-being. Today, our Turlock veterinarians offer advice on what you can do at home to keep your pet's teeth and mouth in good shape.
Dental Health for Pets
Just like in humans, poor oral hygiene in pets can lead to a range of problems.
When plaque - a thin, sticky film of bacteria - builds up on your pet's teeth it hardens into tartar and can cause infection, pain, bad breath, and difficulty chewing. Poor oral hygiene has also been linked to serious issues like cardiovascular disease. This is because the infection in your pet's mouth can easily enter their bloodstream and spread to other organs in the body.
By monitoring your pet's oral health and being diligent about cleaning their teeth, you can help them maintain their overall health and well-being. Regular care also allows you to spot any developing issues and have them treated before they turn into a larger problem.
Caring For Your Pet's Teeth At Home
Maintaining a daily dental hygiene routine for your pet could help to keep your furry companion's teeth and gums healthy throughout their lifetime. To make cleaning your pet's teeth at home as easy and stress-free as possible, begin establishing a daily oral hygiene routine for your pet while they are still a kitten or puppy if possible. This way, your pet will be accustomed to having their teeth brushed and mouth touched from a young age.
Strive to mark teeth-brushing an easy part of your pet's daily routine. Start by waiting until your cat or dog is calm and relaxed, then follow these steps:
- Gently lift your pet's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your pet at first. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. That's okay though. This is about building trust in your pet to help prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Remain calm and be sure to give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. You're trying to build your pet’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task each day.
- Once your companion animal is used to you massaging their gums each day, you will be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush you can acquire from your vet and some special pet-friendly toothpaste that comes in flavours like beef or salmon.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your pet may begin with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be Patient While Your Pet Gets Used Teeth Cleaning
The level of success you achieve when it comes to cleaning your pet's teeth will largely depend on your pet's temperament. Make sure you are calm, relaxed, flexible and willing to adapt your approach to your dog or cat's level of tolerance. If your pet doesn't like the toothbrush, you can also clean their teeth with a small piece of gauze.
When you finally begin brushing your pet's teeth successfully, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your pet becomes irritated. It could be weeks before your they tolerate having all of their teeth cleaned during a single session.
If you find your cat or dog is reacting negatively to the brushing process, speak with your veterinarian about alternative oral care methods. There is a range of dental chews, toys, and treats available that can help keep your pet's mouth clean.
Annual Dental Exams For Pets
To help ensure that your pet's mouth stays pain-free and healthy, our vets recommend annual professional dental care as a part of their preventative healthcare routine. When you bring your pet in for a dental appointment, your vet will evaluate your pet's oral health, take X-rays if required, and do a thorough cleaning. If your pet is suffering from a mouth injury, tooth loss, or severe decay, your dentist will provide you with recommendations regarding care or surgery to treat your pett's oral health issues.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.