Teeth Cleaning and Dental Care: An All-Encompassing Guide For Pet Owners

Although veterinarians often explain the importance of brushing, a staggering 65% of pet owners do not brush their pet’s teeth. Little do many pet owners know, failing to provide your pet with adequate dental care can lead to both short- and long-term health issues. But, never fear. Keeping your pet’s pearly whites healthy and fresh is easier than you think if you’re willing to take a “paws” and learn about the process. Here’s a quick, easy guide you can use as a pet owner to keep your pet’s teeth healthy for years to come.

Which Factors Are The Biggest Contributors To Dental Problems In Cats And Dogs?

Inflammation of the gums, the vital support structures of the teeth, is common in cats and dogs. Buildup is a slow but steady process that can cause decay, bleeding, infection, and even bone loss.

Plaque builds up quickly in a pet’s mouth, and when it is not removed in a timely manner, it hardens and turns into tartar. If an animal care doctor doesn’t remove the hardened tartar in time, it eventually contributes to bone loss and other severe damage.

How Can I Brush My Pet’s Teeth?

The key here is patience: it takes time to develop a method and routine that works! If you’ve never brushed your pet’s teeth before, it’s best to start small. First, introduce your pet to their (vet-approved) toothpaste. Letting them lick a small amount from your finger will do the trick. Most veterinarians recommend getting your pet comfortable with your hands near their mouth, as well. A rubber finger brush is a good place to start! Once your pet gets used to regular sessions with the finger brush, you can start graduating to a full-fledged toothbrush. It’s a long process in some cases, but daily cleaning is recommended to prevent and remove plaque buildup. If you can’t manage daily brushing, you should at least aim for several times per week. Feel free to offer your pet some sort of reward for letting you get the job done — although of course, it’s best to avoid treats directly after brushing.

How Can Pet Owners Prevent Dental Issues?

It’s estimated 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of dental disease by age three, leading to abscesses, loose teeth, and chronic pain. While maintaining a consistent teeth cleaning routine is essential to ward off disease and decay, it’s equally as important to make trips to your local pet clinic. Vets suggest twice-yearly checkups for older pets, but it’s a good suggestion for younger pets as well. The fact is, visiting an experienced animal doctor is often the only way to diagnose any current or future dental issues that your pet may be suffering from.

While performing frequent visual inspections of your pet’s teeth can help you detect irregularities, only a vet at your local pet clinic has the tools needed to safely provide your pet with a safe cleaning using anesthesia. Yes, in most cases, anesthesia must be provided to allow the vet to perform a thorough examination. But don’t worry, this procedure is virtually 100% your veterinarian will ensure that the procedure is safe for your pet and it will help your pet maintain good oral health throughout their lifetime.

What Are Some External Signs That My Pet May Be Suffering From A Dental-Related Issue?

While many dental issues originate underneath the gum line and are therefore unidentifiable without dental x-rays or deep probing indistinguishable to the untrained eye, many pets may exhibit some unusual symptoms when suffering from this kind of affliction, especially when in the advanced stages. Keep an eye out for some signs of dental issues, like an abnormal chewing method, excessive drooling, or continuously dropping food from the mouth. Bad breath is also a sign of dental issues. And of course, there are the more obvious signs, including dental bleeding, darkening or breaking of teeth, swelling in areas around the mouth, and a reduced appetite. General changes in behavior or demeanor may also be cause for concern.

What Are The Risks Of Untreated Dental Or Periodontal Disease With My Pet?

Untreated dental issues do more than cause your pet pain and discomfort (though these symptoms alone should prompt you to take immediate action). Experts say that when left untreated, dental issues can grow and develop into other issues involving vital organs, such as the heart, lungs, kidneys, and liver, making early detection crucial.

What Role Does My Pet’s Food Play In Their Overall Dental Health?

While many veterinarians who specialize in dental care agree that proper brushing and veterinary care are the two primary factors of good pet dental health, your pet’s food may also play a role in the condition of their mouth and teeth. Just like human food, ingredients and foods high in carbohydrates turn to sugars and speed up the process of decay. Fortunately, your pet’s primary doctor can consider their specific dietary needs and recommend a brand or formula of food that’s best for all of your pet’s health concerns, including their dental needs.

Ultimately, it’s up to you as a responsible pet owner to stay diligent when it comes to your pet’s pearly whites. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a veterinary professional for any specific concerns about your pet. For more information about veterinary clinics that provide dental care, contact The Pet Vet.