While we enjoy performing dental procedures every day on pets of all shapes and sizes, you may not be as excited to tackle your own pet’s toothy smile. You may already be acquainted with your furry pal’s sharp teeth, after finding yourself on the wrong end of a rough game, or petting your ferocious feline in the wrong spot, and you’re not eager to come closer. But, battling your pet’s bacteria-filled plaque every day will help prevent disease-causing tartar formation. Join the war against dental disease by following these tips to provide the best at-home dental care for your pet.
#1: Learn how to brush your pet’s teeth
The reason toothbrushing skills claim the top spot on our list of dental-care tips for your pet? Toothbrushing is the single best thing you can do to preserve your furry friend’s oral health. While brushing your pet’s teeth may be a struggle initially, with patience, perseverance, and plenty of rewards, your furry pal will soon come running at the sight of a toothbrush. For an in-depth guide on how to introduce your pet to toothbrushing, check out our at-home dental care blog post.
#2: Know how to spot dental-disease signs in your pet
Preventive care is the cornerstone of your pet’s overall health care, as many medical issues can be prevented or more easily managed if problems are caught early. The same goes for preventive dental care. By learning the early dental-disease signs, you will help your pet avoid unnecessary oral pain, inflammation, infection, and disease. During your daily toothbrushing sessions, or whenever you have a chance to peek into your pet’s mouth, look for these periodontal disease indicators:
- Red, inflamed gums
- Brown or yellow tartar buildup on teeth
- Bad breath
- Excessive drooling
- Cracked or broken teeth
- Loose or missing teeth
- Hair stuck between teeth
- Lumps or bumps on the tongue, around the teeth, or on the muzzle
Although pets are masters at hiding illness, you may also notice your furry friend behaving abnormally by pawing at her face, chewing on one side of her mouth, dropping food when eating, or acting hungry, but avoiding food. At the first sign of a problem, give us a call to help heal your pet.
#3: Reinforce your pet’s toothbrushing program with a prescription dental diet
We understand that life gets busy, and you may occasionally forget to brush your pet’s teeth, but you can fill the gaps with a prescription dental diet. If your pet is a growing puppy or kitten, or she has a medical condition that would benefit from a different prescription diet, we can recommend a food designed to suit your pet’s needs. You don’t have to make the dental diet your pet’s main food—supplementing her standard diet with treats of the large kibble will also help.
#4: Round out your pet’s dental health-care regimen with approved products
Adding a variety of approved dental-health products to your at-home routine will take your pet’s dental care to another level. But, use only Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC)-approved products. Unfortunately, many manufacturers use marketing gimmicks claiming their pet dental-care products are best, but only those approved by the VOHC truly work at slowing plaque and tartar accumulation. Approval by the VOHC is voluntary, and only the most dedicated manufacturers test their products to pass the VOHC standards. So, ensure water additives, chews, treats, oral rinses, or dental wipes that you purchase for your furry friend carry the VOHC seal of approval.
#5: Choose safe toys and chews for your pet
You may think you’re doing your power chewer a favor by purchasing indestructible toys for her to gnaw on while you’re at work. We believe chewing, mental stimulation, and environmental enrichment are vital to your pet’s overall well-being, but not all chews and toys are safe for your pet’s teeth. While wolves can crunch through their prey’s bones with one chomp, the same is not true for your pup. Evolution has drastically changed our canine house pets, who now cannot handle tough chewing like their ancestors. If you toss your pooch an antler, femur bone, or other durable chew toy, there’s a good chance she will fracture a tooth. Choose chew toys that won’t easily be eaten, and won’t harm your pet’s teeth.
#6: Call for backup with your pet’s dental care
Despite your best efforts at home, your pet will likely need professional dental care at some point. Toothbrushing, dental diets, and oral rinses work well to battle plaque on the crown of the teeth, but they do little to attack the bacteria below the gumline. Only a professional dental cleaning performed under anesthesia can tackle this tough-to-reach plaque and tartar. Depending on your pet’s breed, age, and oral anatomy, she may need frequent professional dental cleanings, or her at-home care may be enough for quite some time before she needs backup.
To evaluate your pet’s dental health, call us to schedule an appointment. We will be more than happy to discuss an at-home dental-care plan that will ensure you keep your furry friend’s smile sparkling.