Pet Dental Health

The thought of going to the dentist makes a lot of people cringe! But, did you know that it is just as important to take care of your pet's teeth as it is your own? According to the AVMA, periodontal disease is the most common clinical condition in cats and dogs even though it is completely preventable. February is National Pet Dental Month so it's time to make sure your pet's teeth are taken care of. Here are some steps you can take to improve the dental health of your pet:


Daily teeth brushing

In an ideal world, daily brushings should be given. If it's not brushed or scraped away, plaque can turn into tartar within 36 hours. Place a brush or your finger wrapped with gauze at a 45-degree angle to the teeth and clean in small, circular motions. The side of the tooth that touches the cheek usually has the most tartar, so make sure you get that area as well. You can also look at videos online that give step by step instructions to desensitize your pet to accept daily brushings. It is important to use products made specifically for pets and has a list of products approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.


Offer toys and treats to help keep teeth healthy

If daily brushings are unfeasible, add in some toys and treats that help keep teeth healthy. Raw meaty bones are great for this. Avoid cooked bones as they are brittle and can break easily. Also avoid rawhide, as it is not digestible. Other options include deer antlers, dental treats, nylabones, and other chew toys. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help massage pets gums. Your dog should spend about 30 minutes daily gnawing in order to maximize the tooth scraping benefits. Not only does it help with oral health, but it also reduces a dog's overall stress level and prevents boredom as dog's have a natural desire to chew.

Regular check-ups

Regular dental checkups are vital to help maintain your pet’s dental health. Many vets offer discounts during dental health awareness month so now is a great time to get their teeth professionally cleaned.


Signs of disease

There are a number of signs that dental disease has already started. If you notice any of the symptoms below, please take your pet in right away. Dental disease does not just affect the teeth, but can also hurt their heart, kidneys, and other organs, which can become life threatening.

*Really bad breath  

*Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth

*Reluctance to eat hard foods

*Red swollen gums and brownish teeth


Now that you know how important it is to be diligent about your pet's oral health, call your vet today and make an appointment to get their teeth checked! Don't wait until it becomes a problem. It is much easier and cheaper to prevent dental disease then having to deal with treating it once it becomes a problem.