Just like you, your pets need dental care! This includes daily brushing, dental check-ups with your veterinarian and perhaps even specialty preventative diets. If left unchecked, build-up of plaque can cause periodontal disease by creating infection and destroying the gums, teeth and supportive tissues. Owners are often not aware when their pet is experiencing a painful dental condition. Our pets feel this pain the same way that you or I would, but evolution has taught them to hide it. As a result, they continue to eat and act healthy, despite their discomfort. As it worsens, clinical signs of dental disease include bad breath, a yellow-brown crust on the teeth, bleeding gums, a change in eating habits, tooth loss, abnormal drooling, and dropping food out of the mouth or swallowing it whole. Not only can this cause discomfort for your pet, but it may also lead to secondary health problems such as heart, liver and kidney failure.
Brushing your pet’s teeth can be easy, especially if you start young! You should introduce a brushing program slowly, making these first sessions short and positive. Initially, you may want to dip your finger into something tasty, such as beef bouillon for a dog or tuna water for a cat and then run your fingers over your pet’s teeth. Next, introduce gauze covered in these tasty treats and proceed in the same manner. Then allow your pet to lick some of the toothpaste off your finger. Finally, add a small amount of toothpaste to a soft bristled tooth brush and allow your pet to lick some off. Proceed by gently brushing your pet’s teeth at a 45 degree angle away from the gum line. It is VERY important that you do not use human toothpaste with your animals as it can be very upsetting to their stomach. In no time, you will find your pet accepting this procedure and it will become a part of your daily routine! Don’t forget, your pet needs regular dental check-ups too!
To learn more about brushing your cat’s teeth, visit: http://partnersah.vet.cornell.edu/pet/fhc/brushing_teeth
A soft-bristled toothbrush should be used in conjunction with cat or dog toothpaste to brush your pet’s teeth. These items are available at the Fergus Veterinary Hospital. Avoid using human toothpaste as it has ingredients that are harmful to your pet. As well, they are likely to be more willing to tolerate the animal toothpastes that come in flavours such as malt and chicken!
You should begin to brush your pet’s teeth as soon as you get them. Although the puppy and kitten teeth will be replaced by adult teeth, the sooner you get them used to the brushing process, the easier it will be for everyone!
Caution should be taken when reading pet food and pet treat labels. Many of claims made are not substantiated by adequate scientific research and may be false. While dental diets are better then nothing, they are still not a total replacement for daily tooth brushing. As well, dental treats are essentially useless as a dental health tool. Speak to the Fergus Veterinary Hospital to learn which diets can aid in dental health. Furthermore, tooth brushing used in conjunction with quality dental diets to decrease the occurrence of dental illness is ideal. While dental diets will help, they will not remove all the plaque.
Within a couple days of a professional dental cleaning by the veterinarian, calculus can form on the teeth, which provides an optimal environment for bacterial growth and survival. These bacteria produce toxins that can cause gingivitis, and eventually periodontitis. Luckily this can be kept at bay with regular home cleaning using a soft-bristle tooth brush and dental check-ups with your veterinarian.
Before beginning any home dental care routine (i.e. tooth brushing), it is recommended to have your pet’s teeth examined and cleaned by the veterinarian. This removes any existing plaque and allows for the identification of any problems that may make the tooth brushing process painful, such as resorptive lesions, or fractured crowns. Ignoring these issues may lead to objections from your pet during tooth brushing, complicating the process and teaching them to hate having this done from the start. In combination with this home care, it is still recommended to have regular dental check-ups to remove any plaque that is unreachable, and to catch small problems early when they are more easily treated and before they affect your pet’s well-being and happiness. This is no different then your dentist requesting to see you every 6 months!
One tell-tale sign is bad breath, which is likely the result of an infection. Other signs may include a yellow-brown crust on the teeth, bleeding gums, a change in eating habits, tooth loss, abnormal drooling, and dropping food out of the mouth or swallowing it whole. If you notice any of these signs, your pet should be seen by the veterinarian for a dental examination.
The Fergus Veterinary Hospital offers a number of dental procedures. Firstly, preventative care is performed under anaesthesia to remove damage to the mouth that is beyond tooth brushing. Once normalized, teeth are expected to be healthy and gums to heal. As well, other common issues include holes in their teeth, due to resorptive lesions and breaking teeth on bones, stones, sticks and toys. These teeth will need extraction or root canals. Additionally, plaque and tarter left unchecked invades the tissues under the gum, eventually infiltrating bone, teeth roots and the periodontal ligament. Depending on the severity, treatment may require tooth extraction. Given the long list of potential dental issues, the benefits of staying on top of your pet’s dental health are clear!