Say Cheese! - Pet dental care explained

You brush your teeth every day, but do you brush your pet’s teeth every day?

Just like with in humans, dental care plays a vital role in the overall health of your pets. By taking a few minutes a day to spend on your pet’s oral hygiene, you can help fight off dental diseases and keep your pet’s teeth shiny and healthy!

 
 

Why does my pet need a dental check?

Dental disease is one of the most common ailments in both cats and dogs.

It’s estimated that between 70-80 % of pets have some form of dental disease. If left untreated, minor problems can progress to much more serious diseases. As well as infections and bone diseases, bacteria in the mouth can be carried anywhere in the blood stream and can even cause kidney, heart, or liver problems.

Thankfully, these problems can be avoided by getting your pet a dental check with their yearly wellness check at your veterinarian! Dental checks are truly one of the easiest factors in preventative health care in pets.

 
 

How can I tell if there’s a problem?

Thankfully for pet owners, it’s fairly easy to tell if problems start to arise in your pet’s mouth. If you notice any of these changes, or are concerned, please visit your veterinarian.

  • Continuous bad breath
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Thick yellow/brown plaque at the gum line
  • Red, swollen, or bleeding gums
  • Increased salivating
  • Trouble chewing food
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss

What happens at the vet?

Dental checks can be combined with your pet’s yearly health check. During the full examination, the mouth, teeth, gums, and jaw will be evaluated to look for any obvious changes or disease.

It may be necessary to preform x-rays of the teeth and jaw to make more accurate assessments and diagnosis if changes are noted. For this procedure, your pet will be sedated. While your pet is sedated, a deep cleaning of the teeth and mouth will be performed.

Using an ultrasonic scaler, the teeth will be hand-scaled, and polished. If any teeth needed to be extracted, it will also be done at this time. Your pet’s mouth will be thoroughly rinsed, and after a final check, they’ll be ready to wake up!

 
 

Can you help take care of your pets teeth?

Absolutely!

Dental care at home in between checks at your vet are a key part in making sure that the mouth is healthy. Brushing your pet’s teeth is the best thing you can do to maintain hygiene between cleanings at the vet.

While it may seem like a daunting task, most pets cope with this very well. Vet surgeries and pet care stores sell a variety of tooth brushes, from normal handheld brushes to ones that fit over your finger tip. Just be sure that you’re using toothpaste made specifically for pets! 

To get them used to it, try putting some pet tooth paste on your finger and have them lick it off, then rub your finger along their teeth and gums to get them used to the feeling of it. From there, you can progress to using the tooth brush.

Pet chews are also a good option to clean your pet’s teeth if they don’t take well to brushing. With many options for both dogs and cats, it would be worth it to do a bit of research into the different kinds to see what would suit your pet best. There are many natural animal products that are a good choice. Rawhides, air-dried bones, and antler chews are great at keeping plaque from building up and keeping your animal entertained with a treat.

For an alternative choice, dried vegetables like parsnips and sweet potatoes can be used as well. There are also many brands of dental sticks, chews and treats that help remove the plaque build up and can even help with bad breath! With so many brands and options, it’s important to find the one that suits you and your pet best.