Caring For Pet Dental Health At Home
Start when your pet is young. It is important to introduce teeth cleaning to your puppy or kitten soon after you first bring them home. Just as you would teach your puppy his first trick, teach them to sit for their teeth cleaning and/or rinsing. It is important to get your pet used to letting you touch the inside of their mouth while brushing and examining their teeth. While you open and examine their mouth, praise good behavior and be sure to always make the experience a positive one for your pet.
When examining your pet’s mouth and brushing pets’ teeth at home it is best to start with a fresh mouth. An initial exam and cleaning by your veterinarian will allow you to start with a clean slate and will tell you if your pet has any dental issues you should be aware of. Once you are ready to take over cleanings at home, prepare yourself with a toothbrush and proper toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste on your animal as baking soda in human toothpaste requires it to be spit out, not swallowed and can be poisonous to pets. Many types of pet toothpastes come in flavors such as beef, chicken, lamb or malt flavors to make for an enjoyable “treat” for your pet.
Introduce your pet to the toothpaste and toothbrush calmly and slowly. Let your pet sniff the toothbrush and perhaps let him chew on it a bit while you keep hold of the brush. It is important to familiarize your pet with the teeth cleaning process and keep him comfortable. Human toothbrushes, even child toothbrushes, are too rough for our pet’s teeth. Special toothbrushes for pets are made of soft bristles or they even have finger caps with ribs to clean teeth and are sold at pet stores or your veterinary clinic.
Start by cleaning the upper teeth along the gum line using circular motions. The top teeth are most vulnerable to plaque, but it is important to brush all of your pet’s teeth – top and bottom. Brushing pet’s teeth should use up and down motions covering about 3-4 teeth at a time. Keep teeth brushing short and sweet. It won’t always be perfect, but it is important to stay consistent and keep trying. The enzymes in the toothpaste are beneficial to our pet’s teeth even if the brushing to get it there isn’t perfect.
In between brushings, treat your pet to hard food and biscuits to maintain oral health. The hard food and treats can help minimize plaque buildup on the teeth. In between at home brushing and veterinary exams, be sure to regularly examine your pet’s mouth for signs of periodontal disease. Brownish teeth, consistently bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums and pus between the teeth and gums are all warning signs. Remember red gums mean pain. If your dog or cat has these symptoms, consult your veterinarian or call Animal Central for more information.
For more information on dental health visit these websites:
By: Dr. George Stroberg and Staff at Animal Central