Diseases of the oral cavity are the most commonly seen problem in veterinarians offices. About 85% of all dogs and cats over the age of two years have gum disease. Just as in humans, plaque associated with gum disease has been shown to cause problems throughout the body, including heart disease, in animals. When you remember to brush your teeth each day, it’s important to remember to brush your pet’s teeth as well! Pets need to have some sort of dental hygiene performed at least three times each week.
Special pet toothbrushes are available that are designed for both dogs and cats. Some pet owners opt to use a finger cot with pet toothpaste instead of a toothbrush. Pets who are unaccustomed to having their teeth cared for, though, may object to their new routine and bite down on their owners finger! Gauze pads can also be used to clean the oral cavity.
Toothpaste: Specialty toothpastes designed for dogs and cats should be used to clean the teeth. Pets lack the ability to spit out the toothpaste after brushing, and human toothpastes are hard on their stomach. Besides, pet toothpastes come in flavors such as chicken or liver that are much more appealing leading to a better brushing experience.
Tooth gels: Sometimes animals strongly object to having their teeth brushed, especially if brushing is a new experience in an older animal. Do not give up on your pet’s dental health simply because they refuse to allow repetitive brushing! Tooth gels are similar to toothpastes with the exception of the need for brushing. Gels are applied to the teeth and gums with a cotton swab. The saliva from the pet’s mouth will work with the gel to help displace plaque and tartar.
If you continue to notice bad breath even with regular tooth brushing, see your veterinarian to rule out any underlying cause. If nothing is found, consider adding a breath freshener. No, I’m not recommending giving your pet breath mints! Instead, a product called Breathalyser Plus can be added to your pets drinking water that can help eliminate bad breath and reduce tartar!
Regardless of how you go about it, your pets dental health is an important, yet often overlooked, consideration. Don’t rely only on tartar controlling dental treats to ensure your pet has proper dental care.