Beyond Doggie Breath: Why You Should Pay Attention to Pet Dental Health
Bad doggie breath is sometimes enough to get a pet owner to think about dental care, but poor oral hygiene in general is a serious matter. Unfortunately, pet dental health is often the last thing to be addressed in the spectrum of pet care services. This is despite what we now know about the link between dental care and your pet’s overall health.
One of the key challenges to pet dental health is misinformation about what constitutes dental care or why it is needed. The false belief that simply giving a pet a bone to chew on or feeding him dry kibble exclusively will result in oral health is often mistakenly accepted as fact.
Can you imagine if you didn’t brush your teeth or see a dentist, relying only on chewing crunchy things? Yikes!
The Connection Between Pet Dental Health and Disease Prevention
According to the American Veterinary Dental Association, more than 85% of household cats and dogs have dental disease by 3 years of age. Without regular cleanings and daily brushing, food and saliva create bacteria which adheres to teeth. Over time, this bacteria forms plaque and tartar.
As you may know from your own dental health, over time plaque and tartar corrodes the enamel that protects the teeth and causes inflammation of the gums. Ultimately, when left untreated, these conditions create periodontal disease, tooth loss, and infections.
But, that isn’t the only health impact. Untreated infections and inflammation can damage internal organs, such as the heart and kidneys, decrease life span, and result in chronic and severe pain. Dental care is much more important than white teeth or no more bad breath!
Preventing Dental Disease, Enhancing Oral Health
Given the severity of dental disease and related conditions, the solution is obvious: consistent daily and preventive dental care including regular dental exams and care.
During your pet’s general wellness exam at ZippiVet’s pet hospital, our team will provide a thorough inspection of your pet’s oral health. If your pet’s teeth or gums hint at larger issues, we’ll recommend digital dental x-rays, which make it possible to quickly detect and diagnose issues occurring below the gum line.
When necessary, teeth cleaning is also an effective way to treat plaque and tartar and prevent future build-up.
Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
As the care provider of your cuddly friend, the best thing you can do for him at home is to brush his teeth each day (or, at least every few days). While this task may seem daunting at first, you and your pet will acclimate with time and practice.
To make it easier, try the following tips:
- Buy a size-appropriate angled toothbrush and cat or dog toothpaste (never use human toothpaste).
- Start slowly by introducing a finger or a fingertip rubber brush with the tasty pet toothpaste.
- Choose a well-lit room and kneel or place your pet on a counter, so you can easily view your pet’s teeth.
- Begin by focusing on the front teeth and brushing in a circular motion. In time you can work your way to the back teeth.
- Try not to feel fear or stress since your pet will sense and reflect your feelings.
- Praise your pet and provide some small treat or toy reward for a successful session.
Keep in mind that it will take some time to ease your pet into regular brushing, and some pets simply will not tolerate it. If this is the case, let us assist you by providing some instruction and recommending products that help keep teeth clean.
The important thing to remember is that pet dental care is essential to complete health. Our focus at ZippiVet is on preventive care so let us help you prevent dental problems or catch them early for longterm wellness. Remember, ZippiVet walk-ins are always welcome so drop by with your pet!