Most humans acknowledge the importance of going to the dentist regularly (although whether they do this or not is another story).
When it comes to our pet’s teeth however, dental care is something which often gets overlooked.
Let a Toronto pet dentist tell you why your pet’s dental care is important, and how to go about helping your pet keep their teeth healthy.
Do You Need To Brush Your Pet’s Teeth?
You probably brush your teeth at least two, maybe three times a day.
Dental care is important, and prevention is the best way to avoid needing pricey procedures later on.
Just as with humans, taking care of your pet’s teeth can help prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar, and brushing their teeth regularly means you remain aware of changes in their mouth, including noticing signs of gum disease, trauma, or other issues.
Your pet can’t tell you if something hurts, or is irregular, so brushing their teeth and getting to know what is “normal” makes it more likely you will recognize when something is wrong – and then you can deal with any issues before they escalate.
Keep reading to learn why to brush your pet’s teeth, and some tips on how to do it.
1. Deals With Bad Breath
I don’t know many people who would say their dog’s breath smells good.
Not only is bad breath unpleasant, it can be an indicator of dental disease.
Regular teeth cleaning can not only help deal with your pets smelly breath, but also makes you more aware of issues which might come up, as you become familiar with what smells are “normal” and which are not.
2. Prevents Periodontal Disease
Also known as gum disease, periodontal disease can result in inflamed, swollen, and bleeding gums.
Brushing teeth regularly can help protect against periodontal disease.
In its advanced stages, periodontal disease may necessitate tooth extraction, which you want to avoid.
3. Helps You Detect Signs Of Oral Pain
Your pet won’t always show you when they are in pain.
Although an injury to a limb may result in an obvious sign such as limping, there is not always an outward sign of dental pain.
Brushing your pet’s teeth means you will be more likely to notice if something is wrong that might be causing them pain.
How To Get Your Pet To Not Hate Teeth Brushing
If you have never brushed your pet’s teeth before, it may take a few attempts to be successful and get them to cooperate.
Here are some tips for getting them to cooperate with you, and with some practice you will soon become a pro at pet dental-hygiene.
1. Use A Tasty Toothpaste
What flavour is your toothpaste?
Probably some form of mint.
Maybe bubblegum or fruit flavoured if you have kids.
What if I told you there was toothpaste flavoured like beef, seafood, or peanuts?
These are some of the flavours toothpaste for dogs and cats come in.
Don’t be tempted to share your own toothpaste with your pet – although humans know not to swallow toothpaste, chance are some will be ingested when brushing your pets teeth, so specially formulated products meant for pets are your best option.
2. Don’t Try To Force Their Mouth Open
If you’ve ever tried to pry a stolen object from your dog’s mouth so they don’t swallow it, you know how difficult it can be.
When it comes to teeth-brushing you want to make it a pleasant experience for them, so you can continue to do it on a regular basis, and forcing their mouth open can lead to them panicking, struggling, and result in aversion to future brushing attempts.
Start gradually, get them used to the taste of the toothpaste and be sure to offer rewards for good behaviour and cooperation.
3. Don’t Push Too Hard
Just as you would not brush your own teeth too hard or roughly, be gradual and gentle with your pet.
Pull their gums back gently, and brush gently, from the gum line to the tip of the tooth.
Practice makes perfect, and you’ll want to make sure that the experience is pleasant for your pet.
4. Get A Professional Cleaning First
Before attempting to brush your pets teeth, consider a professional cleaning through your vet first.
Otherwise you could just end up pushing bacteria around, and back into the bloodstream.
“I Tried All That, And They Still Hate It”
Sometimes, despite your best efforts a pet just will not let you brush their teeth.
There are still ways you can protect their teeth, even if brushing is not an option.
Feeding quality pet food can go a long way to help maintain good dental health (and overall health as well).
There are also pet foods specifically formulated to help keep your pets teeth clean – these will often be labeled as “dental diets”.
Look for foods approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).
There are also pet-safe chews and toys approved by the VOHC which can help keep your pets teeth clean and disease-free.
Contact Bickford Park Animal Hospital
Are you worried about your pet’s oral health?
Or maybe you just want a check-up to ensure everything is in good shape.
Perhaps you’ve tried our tips and can’t quite get your dog or cat to cooperate with having their teeth cleaned, and need a professional to step in.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital can help.
All of our vets are trained in veterinary dentistry, and can help assess your pet’s teeth and set up a treatment plan if required.
Call us to set up an appointment today.
Bickford Park Animal Hospital is a veterinary clinic in Toronto, located across from Christie Pits park, committed to the highest level of caring and treatment for cats and dogs.