The Guide to Dental Care for Pets
Just like humans, it’s important that your pet’s teeth are clean and well taken care of. Dental problems can affect your cat or dog in a number of ways, including the risk of infection and even causing problems with their heart. Your pet can also run the risk of losing their teeth, which can be very painful and make it more difficult for them to chew and swallow food. Care for your pet’s dental health on a regular basis so your furry friend will stay healthy and happy.
Plaque can build up on your pet’s teeth quickly, so it’s important to take steps to try to keep the plaque at bay. Giving your dog or cat crunchy treats can help naturally scrape the plaque off. A chew toy or safe bone is also an effective way to help them remove plaque without even knowing it. There are also special treats available that are designed specifically to help with dental care, so look for those at your local pet store or veterinarian’s office. It’s important not to overfeed your pet treats since they can contribute to weight gain, but a few treats several times a week can be very effective at helping to remove stubborn plaque, and your pet will be happy as well.
If you are concerned about your pet’s dental health, you can make an appointment with a veterinary dentist who specializes in dealing with animal dental treatment. In most cases, they will use anesthesia in order to properly take a close look at your cat or dog’s teeth, tongue, and gum line. They will carefully inspect your pet’s mouth to look for any signs of decay or oral diseases and perform a thorough cleaning. Be sure you choose a pet dentist who is certified as an official veterinary dentist so you can be sure that they’re capable of treating your pet in the best way possible. Your pet will also receive a series of X-rays, since most dental issues with pets occur below the gum line where you cannot detect them with the naked eye.
Most pet owners don’t need to brush their pet’s teeth unless there are noticeable signs of redness, swelling, or discoloration. If you decide to brush your pet’s teeth, keep in mind that they will probably not be very happy about it, so it’s important that you’re gentle and use a calming voice. Cats can be especially difficult since they don’t like to be held down for long periods of time, so remember to be patient with your pet. You may have to brush a few sections at a time every day until you can clean their entire mouth. Use a circular motion and gently scrub the plaque away from your pet’s gum line. Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush so it’s gentle on their mouth and choose one that has a long handle that is specially designed for pets. Only use toothpaste formulas meant for dogs or cats: Human toothpaste can disrupt your pet’s digestive system, and fluoride can be toxic to dogs. Dip the brush in water several times as you go. The water will help rinse the plaque away. When you’ve finished, be sure to reward your pet with praise and maybe even a treat or two so they will understand that brushing is good and normal.
Dogs and cats can suffer from the same oral diseases as humans. Problems like gingivitis, which is bleeding of the gums, are frequently seen in pets with improper oral care. Cats and particularly dogs can also get cavities, which can lead to pain and eventually rotting or missing teeth. The best thing pet owners can do is to frequently take a look at their pet’s teeth and gums to ensure that everything looks healthy. When in doubt, consult your veterinarian for advice and recommendations for treatment so that your pet can live a healthy life and enjoy a well-cared-for mouth for many years to come.
For more information about pet dental and oral care, refer to the following resources:
- Pet Dental Care
- Keeping Your Pet’s Teeth Clean Is Important to Their Overall Health
- Pet Dental Health
- Brushing for Pet’s Dental Health
- Protecting Your Pet’s Oral Health
- Chew on This: Dental Care for Pets
- Dental Care for Pets
- Information for Pet Owners
- Pets Need Dental Care, Too! (PDF)
- Dental Disease in Cats
- 10 Steps to Cat Dental Health
- How to Tell if Your Dog Has Dental Disease
- Dental Hygiene for Dogs
- How to Brush Your Pet’s Teeth (video)
- Monitoring Your Pet’s Dental Health
- 12 Steps to Dazzling Dog Teeth
- Dental Care and Brushing Your Pet’s Teeth
- Pet Dental Hygiene
- Spring Cleaning for Your Pet’s Teeth
- All About Your Dog’s Teeth
- Feline Periodontal Disease
- A Guide to Pet Dental Care
- A Guide to Feline Dentistry (PDF)
- What You Might Not Know About Your Pet’s Smile
- Dental Care for Dogs: Tips and Tricks
- Columbia Endodontics
- Columbia Oral Surgeons
- Columbia Periodontists