In the hustle and bustle of daily life, many people forget the importance of taking care of their pet’s teeth. Just like our oral hygiene reflects our overall health, the same is true for our pets. If neglected, poor oral hygiene can lead to many health problems later in life for our furry friends.
Just like with humans, the best way to ensure proper oral hygiene is by brushing your pet’s teeth daily. This prevents disease by removing plaque buildup on their teeth. The American Veterinary Dental College (AVDC) recommends pet-specific toothpastes. These come in flavors that dogs accept, such as poultry and seafood. Avoid human toothpastes as they often contain abrasives and high-foaming detergents that should not be swallowed or inhaled by dogs. There are even toothbrushes designed for dogs.
Like with children, pets may not always be cooperative. The younger you start to brush your dogs teeth the better, because they will not be afraid of the tooth brush. AVDC states that the key to success is to be patient and gradual in your approach, brushing mainly the outsides of the “cheek teeth” located under the upper lip. This may mean by starting to let your pet smell the toothpaste or lick it first, and then slowing starting to get front teeth and working your way in.
Another way to help keep our pet’s teeth health is by getting them rawhide products and chew treats. They can be helpful if chewed daily, and some rawhide chews and biscuits contain an anti-tartar ingredient. If you’re ever questioning the safety or effectiveness of a product consult your veterinarian.
Besides taking care of their teeth at home the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMA) states that your pet’s teeth and gums should be checked at least once a year by a veterinarian to check for early signs of a problem and to keep your pet’s mouth healthy.
According to the AVDC, signs of oral and dental diseases in dogs and cats include:
- Bad breath
- Loose teeth
- Discolored teeth
- Drooling or dropping food from the mouth
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Loss of appetite, or weight loss.