Dental Care for your pets

May 21, 2018

Dental Care for your pets

Most pet owners think that the foul odour coming from their pet’s mouth, also known as doggy breath, is normal. But unfortunately, the awful smell that is coming from your pet’s mouth is not normal. It’s called dental disease and over 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of dental disease. That’s a lot of cats and dogs that aren’t getting proper dental care.

Now you may be wondering, what is the appropriate dental care for your pet? It actually gears not far off from the care we take for our own teeth.

First and foremost, one thing we can do for our pets is, of course, brushing their teeth. Now you may think to yourself, yah right, that will be impossible. Well I can tell you from experience that it is not impossible. Of course, like anything there may be some challenges, but with a little perseverance and consistency, you are sure to get the hang of it and your pet may even enjoy it. I speak from experience when I say that it can be easy. I have 2 cats and 1 dog, which all get their teeth brushed every evening and they love it.

But like I mentioned, you need consistency in order for them to become used to the idea. We cannot immediately start by brushing all the teeth and think we will succeed without failure. Especially if it is the first time getting their teeth brushed, we need to take it step by step. First introduce the animal to a pet-approved toothpaste on the tip of your finger. There are many types of flavours you can choose from, the most popular being chicken. If they enjoy the toothpaste, the following day you can apply some more toothpaste on the tip of your finger, hold the mouth closed with your other hand and slide your finger back and forth against the teeth. If they tolerate it well, you can do this throughout the entirety of the mouth for a couple of days. After a few days, you can then introduce a soft-bristle toothbrush instead of your finger. Now the most important thing to remember when it comes to brushing your pet’s teeth is to brush them every day. That is the only way you will make a difference in their mouth and the only way for them to get used to it. A tip that helps me remember to brush my pet’s teeth is I leave their toothbrush and toothpaste in the same drawer where I have my own. Just be attentive as to not use their toothpaste!

If brushing your pet’s teeth is really not an option, then the second best preventative care would be feeding a dental diet. Hill’s Prescription Dental Care diet (T/D) is my first choice when it comes to picking a dental diet. The reason I trust this company’s diet is because it is proven to help in the care and prevention of dental disease. It fights against the tartar buildup and reduces gingivitis. When they chew, the kibble will not crumble like most kibbles, but instead the tooth will pierce the kibble which will act as a brushing mechanism along the tooth. You will also notice that the kibble is much larger than most kibbles found on the market. Even if you are able to brush your pet’s teeth, and there are no other health issues that require a different diet, then you can do both: brushing the teeth and feeding a dental diet. This way there is more prevention for the teeth.

Now just like us, we follow up at the dentist at least once a year to have our teeth cleaned. Even though we brush every day, we still need that routine check-up with the dental hygienist and dentist. Same goes for our pets. Now the only difference is they will not say “ahhh“ and sit still while we clean their teeth. For this reason alone, we need to clean their teeth while they are under general anesthesia. It is safer for them and as well as for the technician who is cleaning the teeth, especially due to all the sharp instruments involved. We will get a better cleaning with the scaler and polish afterwards. This will leave our pet’s teeth looking nice and white and their mouth smelling great. The other great thing about having a dental cleaning at least once a year is that we are able to evaluate each tooth individually for any cavities, lesions, gum recession or loose teeth. We will remove any tooth that is causing a problem and pain for the pet while under anesthesia. They will be feeling so much better once the procedure is done.

So if you suspect that your pet may have dental disease or doggy breath, then I highly recommend bringing your furry companions to your local veterinarian where they can be properly examined from head to toe and where you will be provided with the appropriate recommendations. For further information about the care of your pet’s teeth, you can always visit our Animal 911 Veterinary Hospital Website or check out our YouTube videos.

Emilie Gauthier
Registered Veterinary Technician