Pet Dental Health

Oct 17, 2019   Tracey Aston   Grooming

We brush and bathe our pets. We research the best foods and veterinary care, and we make sure to exercise and provide mental stimulation. In all we do for our pets, there is still one area of our pet's wellness that is often overlooked – dental health. 

Dental health is extremely important a pet's overall wellness as untreated dental issues can lead to bad breath, broken or lost teeth, trouble eating and can eventually lead to much bigger health problems like diabetes and heart disease.  In the worst case scenario, excessive plaque and bacteria can build up to the point it starts chipping off and end up in the bloodstream, which can turn into a deadly blood infection. 

If started at a young age, most pets can be trained to allow a pet parent to brush their teeth. It must be noted: NEVER use human toothpaste on a pet. There are specially made toothpastes for pets that are safe for animal use. Most of these toothpastes are even flavored to make using them easier for both the pet and pet parent. 

You'll need: pet toothbrush, or rubber cleaning finger, or cotton swab. Pet tooth paste or homemade toothpaste made with coconut oil, turmeric and baking soda. 

To start:

Give your pet a small sample of the toothpaste to taste 

Carefully lift the pet's lip until you see the surface of the gums and teeth

Inspect gums for signs of injury and overall health. Gums should always be a healthy shade of pink. Pale/white gum color can mean anemia; yellow can indicate jaundice and a blue/gray color can indicate lack of oxygen in the cells.

Brush with gentle motions to clean the teeth and gums.

Make sure to also brush the back molars and canines.

Visually inspect the gum, cheek and tongue area for any signs of injury or abnormal marks or ticks

Reward your pet during and after the teeth cleaning process. 

For those pets who struggle during a tooth brushing, there are products made to help promote dental health for your pet, such as: 

Dental mouth wash – add to water

Dental sprays

Chew toys made specifically to scrape plaque off teeth *We don't promote dental sticks, as they don't clean the back teeth, don't get  rid of bacteria and get stuck in the teeth, actually causing tooth decay 

Coconut Oil

Water Additives that can both in both powder and liquid forms 

Pets, especially dogs, love to play with their mouths, whether mouthing each other, pulling on ropes or catching balls, any of these things can lead to a mouth, gum or tooth injury.  While dogs are more prone to dental injury because of the above reasons, cats are not immune to periodontal disease. 

Veterinarians also offer extensive dental cleanings for pets to remove heavy tartar buildup, remove broken teeth, or address impacted or infected teeth.  This does need to be done under anesthesia, which concerns many pet parents.  Your vet should be willing to take the time to discuss the procedures with you and explain the process to calm your fears.

Proper dental health, whether at home or in the vet's office is extremely important to a pet's health and wellness. Poor dental health can lead to numerous health issues for your pet. Including

bad breath

broken or loose teeth

extra teeth or retained baby teeth

teeth that are discolored or covered in tartar

abnormal chewing, drooling, or dropping food from the mouth

reduced appetite or refusal to eat

pain in or around the mouth

bleeding from the mouth

swelling in the areas surrounding the mouth

broken teeth and roots

abscesses or infected teeth

As pet parents, we take the time to brush our teeth and visit the dentist to keep our mouths clean and our breath fresh. Pets also require good dental hygiene to prevent potential health issues. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! Keeping your pet's mouth healthy will also save you money in the long run, as it's easier to prevent than to wait until there is an issue that requires immediate attention. It's much easier to prevent periodontal disease than it is to reverse it.  Therefore, a proactive course of action is always best.

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