Good Dental Care Is Important for Your Pet’s Overall Health
Bad breath is no laughing matter when it comes to the health of your dog or cat. It is usually one of the first signs of gum disease. Research studies have shown a direct connection between oral health and a pet’s overall wellbeing. Tartar and any infected mouth areas can send bacteria to other areas of the body, such as the kidneys, heart, liver, GI tract, and joints.
So, what’s a pet owner to do? Regularly brushing your pet’s teeth and providing a healthy diet and plenty of chew toys can go long way toward keeping him or her healthy. However, even with the best of home care, many dogs and cats show signs of gum disease by the time they’re four years old. We believe that the key to management of gum disease is prevention.
Examining your pet’s teeth during their wellness checkup is part of our protocol at Pet Care Veterinary Hospital. We:
- Evaluate puppies and kittens for problems related to deciduous (baby) teeth, missing teeth, extra teeth, oral development, and occlusion (how the teeth line up). Malocclusion may be painful or lead to an increase in periodontal disease.
- We examine your adult pet for developmental anomalies, accumulation of plaque and tartar, periodontal disease, and oral tumors. Your doctor can perform a basic oral examination while your pet is awake. However, short-lasting anesthetic is required for a more complete examination.
- We also show you how to take care of your pet's teeth at home. Brushing your pet's teeth is an important step in the health care process.
What Happens During a Dental Cleaning?
Your pet’s veterinarian and the attending licensed veterinary technician may perform the following procedures:
- Removal of visible plaque and tartar from the teeth
- Elimination of plaque and tartar from under the gum
- Probing of dental sockets to assess dental disease
- Polishing to smooth enamel scratches that may attract bacteria
- Dental X-rays to evaluate problems below the gum line
- Charting gingival pockets and recession on each tooth
- Application of Oravet and Sanos
- Removal or repair of fractured or infected teeth
- Dental charting so progression of dental disease can be monitored over time
- Inspection of the lips, tongue, and entire mouth for growths, wounds, or other problems
Home care can make a tremendous difference in your pet’s comfort and health. There are several home care oral hygiene options from which to choose, but keep in mind that anything you can do to help prevent plaque and tartar accumulation will help keep your pet’s teeth in shipshape order between professional cleanings. After all, it only takes 8 hours after a cleaning for bacteria to begin forming into plaque and five to seven days for there to be an active periodontal infection!
Brushing Your Pet's Teeth
First of all, this should be fun for you and your pet. Be upbeat and take things slowly. Do not overly restrain your pet. Keep sessions short and positive. Be sure to praise her throughout the process. Give yourself a pat on the back, too! You are doing a great thing for your pet!
- First, have your pet get used to you putting things in her mouth. Dip your finger in beef bouillon. Call your pet with a voice that means “treat” and let her lick the liquid off your finger. Then rub your soaked finger gently over her gums and teeth. After a few sessions, your pet should actually look forward to this and you can move on.
- Now, place a gauze around your finger. (You can again dip it in the bouillon.) Gently rub the teeth in a circular motion with your gauzed finger. Repeat this for the number of sessions it takes to feel comfortable with this procedure. Remember to praise her and keep an upbeat attitude.
- After your pet is used to having the flavored gauze in her mouth, you are ready to start with a toothbrush, dental sponge, or pad. We need to get her used to the consistency of these items, especially the bristles on a brush. So, let her lick something tasty off of the brush or pad so she gets used to the texture.
- Once your pet is used to the cleaning item you are going to use, we can add the toothpaste. Pet toothpastes either have a poultry, malt, or other flavor so they will like the taste. Get your pet used to the flavor and consistency of the toothpaste. Let her lick some off your finger and then apply some to your pet’s gumline with your finger. Praise your pet.
- Now your pet is used to the toothbrush and toothpaste and you are ready to start brushing. Talk to her in a happy voice during the process and praise her at the end. At first, you may just want to brush one or both upper canine teeth (the large ones in the front of the mouth). These are the easiest teeth for you to get at and will give you some easier practice. As before, when your pet accepts having several teeth brushed, slowly increase the number of teeth you are brushing. Again, by making it appear to be a game, you both will have fun doing it.
To see a video that demonstrates pet oral healthcare go to our Youtube channel.