Vetstreet. All rights reserved.
Vetstreet does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. See Additional Information ›
Painful toothaches and gingivitis have mercy on no one, man or beast. Here’s a guide to help you keep your pet’s teeth and gums happy and healthy.
Many pet owners tend to overlook their pet’s
bad breath, dismissing it as normal. In fact, bad breath, along with sore or bleeding gums are warning signs that your dog or
cat may be developing painful periodontal disease. When it comes to the importance of your pet’s dental hygiene, it goes way beyond a pretty smile. Good
dental health not only helps your pet eat comfortably but contributes to overall pet health, as well. While dental care for pets often gets short shrift, establishing good dental habits early in your pet’s life will pay major dividends throughout his life.
Just like humans, pets need routine brushings to win the lifelong battle with plaque. As your pet eats, plaque builds up, eventually hardening into the calcified material we know as tartar. If plaque is you pet’s arch nemesis, tartar is her mortal enemy. Tartar not only irritates gums, but it also becomes a playground for bacteria.
If left untreated, the gums will become inflamed, pulling back from the teeth and creating pockets that, you guessed it, harbor even more harmful bacteria. As gum disease progresses, the gums may bleed, the roots of your pet’s teeth may be exposed, teeth may loosen, and your pet may actually feel pain as she eats her dinner. Over time this bacteria can find its way into your pet’s bloodstream, leading to liver and kidney problems. It’s insidious, painful, and, yes, disgusting. But it is also very preventable.
It’s not hard to spot your pet’s tooth and gum problems as they develop. The warning signs are clear. The trick is learning not to dismiss them. Here are a few of the most common warning signs.
It’s never too early to start familiarizing your pet with the old toothbrush routine. With praise and a few tasty rewards, a quick little dental scrubbing can even become a bonding experience.
1. Start by rubbing your pet’s teeth with a soft gauze pad. Wrap the gauze around your finger to secure it as you rub. This will familiarize your pet with the brushing process.
2. Work your way up to a pet toothbrush. Specially designed
dog toothbrushes, as well as toothpastes, are available through most pet retailers. Don’t use toothpaste designed for humans.
3. Focus on the gumline. The line where the teeth meet the gums is the most critical area to scrub.
4. Spend 30 seconds brushing each side of the mouth a few times per week.
Your veterinarian is there not only to help with serious dental emergencies but also to assist with routine care. Regular checkups are essential to keeping a close eye on your
dog or cat’s dental health. Your vet may also recommend a prophylaxis — a cleaning procedure that requires medication and/or anesthesia. In the event that your pet is suffering from a more serious condition, your vet can recommend the proper course of treatment — a tooth extraction, for instance.
If your pet simply won’t tolerate the toothbrush, ask your vet about alternative ways to slow plaque buildup in between checkups.
While not as effective as brushing, dry food can help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy. In addition, there are a number of foods, treats, and toys available that are specifically designed to promote
dental health. Check for the Seal of Acceptance from the Veterinary Oral Health Council to make sure it meets high standards for effective plaque and tartar control.
This article has been reviewed by a Veterinarian.
Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!
A koala joey who was rescued after his
mom was struck by a car, is finding
comfort in a stuffed animal koala.
Little dogs can be excellent companions,
but their small size can lead to everyday
issues that you may not expect.
It's snake season. Do you know what to
do if your pup encounters one of these
reptiles? We asked an expert to find…
If your cat doesn't snuggle up with you
while you sleep, it might be due to
instincts she inherited from her…
The sweet-faced Pomeranian may be small in stature, but she loves to exercise and go on outdoor adventures.
Parasites are no fun for dogs. Learn how
to protect your canine from heartworms,
hookworms, whipworms and more.
Check out our collection of more than 250 videos about pet training, animal behavior, dog and cat breeds and more.
Wonder which dog or cat best fits your lifestyle? Our new tool will narrow down more than 300 breeds for you.
Thank you for subscribing.