Oral Care 101: Healthy Teeth, Healthy Pets!
You clearly recognize the importance and benefits of having a mouth full of healthy teeth and gums. Like oral health problems in humans, a lack of regular and attentive care when it comes to your pets’ teeth can result in serious health implications.
Prevention is the key. Studies show that approximately 80% of dogs who have received little or no dental care will show signs of oral disease by age 3. Pets with poor oral health have a higher risk of heart, kidney and liver problems, which can lead to early death.
The signs and symptoms of dental disease in pets are as follows:
- Bad breath
- Red, swollen and or bleeding gums
- Yellow-brown deposits (like cement) along the gum line or on the crowns
- Becoming a picky eater
- Eating on one side and dropping food
- Rubbing their face on the ground, pawing at the mouth and drooling
- Personality change, irritability and depression
Pet parents often underestimate the steps that need to be taken with their pet’s teeth in order to help maintain good health. To ensure that oral health problems do not interfere with your pet’s quality of life, pets should have their teeth brushed on a regular basis.
1. Don’t assume that you will know when your pet’s teeth are hurting him or her. Pets will continue to eat even if they have tooth pain simply due to hunger.
2. Learn how to brush your pet’s teeth. We recommend the following:
- Buy a toothbrush and toothpaste that are specifically designed for pets. Global Pet Foods carries a few different varieties.
- Don’t brush your pet’s teeth when they’re stressed or full of energy. Your dog may be more willing to have his or her teeth brushed after they’ve been running around or after a long walk as they may be more tired and relaxed.
- Let her lick some toothpaste off your finger so she’ll be more open to the cleaning. Add some toothpaste to the brush and commence the brushing process slowly.
- Allow your pet to get used to the feeling of the brush first. Start with the canine tooth, which is the longest tooth on either side of the four front teeth, as these are the easiest teeth to reach first. Gently lift their lip, insert the toothbrush, and gently brush that one tooth. Start slowly to ensure that he or she doesn’t resist the toothbrush in their mouth.
- Brush the gum line around all of the teeth gently. Be tender and speak quietly to your pet to keep them calm. Slowly brush the front of all of the teeth, including the gums, in a circular motion. If your pet continues to pull away or he’s getting increasingly jumpy and irritated, then stop and calm him down. Try again later in the day or over the next day or two so that you can ensure that all of the teeth are brushed.
- If your pet allows you to brush their teeth, 30 seconds per side is an ideal length of time.
- You do not need to brush on the inside of the dog’s teeth. Your dog’s tongue will take care of plaque there. It’s more important that you regularly brush the outside of your dog’s teeth.
- Don’t forget to praise your dog after finishing the teeth cleaning!
If you pets really won’t let you brush their teeth with a toothbrush put some dog toothpaste on a small section of old worn washcloth (the thinner the better) and wrap it around your finger. Then rub the outside of the teeth, concentrating on the largest tooth in the upper and lower jaw. This is better than doing nothing and should help to keep their teeth clean.
If you are stressed about the process or are concerned about whether you’re brushing your pet’s teeth properly, ask one of the specialists at your neighbourhood Global Pet Foods store to demonstrate the proper technique for daily brushing.
Please also note the following:
- Dental care for pets is critical for your pet’s health. If you are not able to brush your dog’s teeth, there are other options when you’re in between vet visits. Consider using oral rinses made especially for dogs. You’ll find a good variety of oral care products for cats and dogs at Global Pet Foods stores.
- Never use human toothpaste, as the foaming agents can pose health risks to pets.
- Do not give your pet any type of candy, ever! Like chocolate, sorbitol-sweetened candy is toxic to dogs. Regular candy is as bad for your pet’s teeth (and yours!).
- While many brands of dry pet food incorporate dental benefits, incorporating special dental treats formulated to reduce tartar, plaque build-up, and stains is another option for pet parents to be proactive in preventing oral health problems. Many people give their dogs a bone or rawhide as a way to help keep their teeth clean. While these can help keep your pets’ teeth cleaner, they may also cause tooth fractures, or result in your pet ingesting bone shards. Ask our Healthy Pet Care Specialists for assistance in selecting the right product and size of bone or chew for your pet. Also, keep an eye on your pets when they are chewing these products to ensure that they don’t choke on any pieces that may have broken off.
- Some toys, like nylon tennis balls, can erode the crowns of your dog’s teeth, so look for toys that provide some protection, like durable rubber dog toys.
- Contact your vet if you note changes in your pet’s behaviour or health. If your pet stops eating, or they have bad breath, excessive drooling, inflammation, or visibly damaged or missing teeth, this usually indicates an issue that must be addressed by a professional.
Looking after your pet’s teeth and gums is one key factor in keeping them healthy and happy for many years. You will find a wide variety of new and improved dental products for cats and dogs in neighbourhood Global Pet Foods stores across Canada. Let our Healthy Pet Care Specialists help you improve and maintain your pets’ dental health.
We want to see your pet’s smile!