These days, pets are more and more a member of the family. Sometimes the best part of your day can be coming home to your furry friend. Our pet’s health care is becoming more of a priority than ever before. Dental health is often one part of our pet’s health that can be overlooked until there are problems that arise.
Dogs have 42 adult teeth, cats have 30 adult teeth and most humans have around 32 adult teeth. We know that brushing our teeth is essential to our dental health care. If we do not brush our teeth, tarter can build up and we will have bad breath as well as cavities. Just like us, our pets oral health can lead to many other health issues, as well as the common worry of having terrible breath. Though breed, diet and lifestyle may predispose our pets to dental issues, there are some things we can do at home to help prevent issues later on.
Some basic at home dental care can help to prevent your pet from having major dental issues later on as well as help to deter bad breath. Of course, the best option is to brush your pet’s teeth, ideally at least 3-4 times a week if not daily. Using toothpaste that is made for pets is very important as human toothpaste contains fluoride and sometimes xylitol which can be toxic to our pets. Pet toothpaste comes in many flavors that your pet will love. Start out putting small amounts of the toothpaste on your finger for your pet to lick off. Once your pet realizes that this is kind of like a treat, you can then start running the toothpaste around their teeth. Introducing either a soft bristled toothbrush or finger toothpaste to help to brush the paste around the teeth is the next step, if you and your pet are able to do so. If your pet is not willing to let you do this, you can apply a small amount of the toothpaste on a toy that your pet likes to chew on to help get the paste applied to the teeth.
For some pets, brushing their teeth is not an option. For these pets, there are dental chews that help to decrease the amount of tarter on the teeth as well as some that will create a protective coating to help prevent buildup of plaque and tarter. For those few pets that do not like to chew on things, there are water additives, dental treats and even dental diets that may help to decrease the amount of build up your pet may have.
While helping our pets as much as we can, there are many things that may play a factor in their dental health. Breed, age, size, diet and lifestyle of your pet all play a factor in dental health. Some pets may need minimal dental care through their lives while others may require more care. Even with the best preventative care, annual dental cleanings with advanced imaging may be the best option for your pet. Remember to talk with your veterinary team about your pet’s dental health at your next visit!