Caring for Your Pet’s Teeth
February was National Pet Dental month and I hope you all took advantage of this by getting your cat’s and dog’s teeth cared for with an annual dental prophylaxis (If not, don’t worry, there is still time during March to receive your discount!). In case you were wondering what you can do now to help keep Fido’s and Fifi’s oral health in tip-top shape, I am here to help.
Just after a dental prophylaxis is the best time to start at-home care for your adult pet. The teeth should be at their healthiest after having the calculus and debris removed from below the gum line and the teeth polished. There are many products and options to use for at-home maintenance but even with this, most animals need annual dental cleanings. If your pet had any extractions or has periodontal disease, which can be painful, make sure to check with your vet when to start at-home oral care.
How to Care for your Pet’s Teeth at Home
The best care you can provide at home is daily tooth brushing. This may take some getting used to for most cats and dogs, so make sure you go slow. Starting out with a finger toothbrush, and over days or weeks slowly transition to a handled toothbrush designed for animals. These allow you to reach the teeth in the back of the mouth much easier. It is extremely important that human toothpaste is never used for your pets because it can be toxic if swallowed. There are many pet safe toothpastes on the market with different flavors including peanut butter or poultry (yum!).
Dental chews are another alternative, especially for animals who do not tolerate tooth brushing. Be sure to check with your vet which brands and types are safe to use. There are numerous treats, rawhides and other chews that are highly marketed. Some can have serious health risks including gastrointestinal obstruction. Others, such as bones, antlers and even hard toys, can cause painful fractured teeth. It is safest to go through your veterinarian for the best dental chew for your pet.
Chew Toys and Dental Health
Safe chew toys can aid the slowing of tartar buildup on teeth. A general rule of thumb is to make sure anything you give your pet to chew on is soft enough to be dented by your thumbnail. Monitor your pet closely any time they have access to toys. If they begin to chew it up, take it away right away. I can’t tell you how common it is for animals to one day decide to consume portions of a toy they have had for a while.
Even with doing everything you can to keep your critter’s mouth healthy, it is important to have a professional dental cleaning at least annually. Care at home can definitely aid in decreasing dental disease but is just a portion of the best care you can provide.
Dr. Tiffany Beischel is a local licensed veterinarian who is happy to answer any questions you may have about your pets. Feel free to call her at (386) 663-3989.