Dental care for your Pet
Dental care is important for your pets just as it is for you! Like us, cats and dogs develop a slimy film on their teeth daily which they cannot brush off like we can. Ideally, we want to brush our pets teeth every 24 hours to remove this plaque. Within 36 hours the slimy film calcifies into tartar otherwise known as ‘calculus.’ This calculus cannot be manually brushed off and will require ultrasonic professional scaling to remove. This is why it is important to brush our pets teeth as often as we can to reduce periodontal disease .progression and prevent dental disease.
Many people wonder what to use when brushing their pets teeth. Human toothpaste is not safe as it contains many chemicals that are unsafe to swallow and unfortunately, we cannot tell our pets to gargle and spit! Pet safe toothpastes are available both at your regular Veterinary hospital and pet stores. They are available in many flavours such as chicken, beef, or vanilla-mint. It is generally recommended to start with a meaty flavour so your pet learns that teeth brushing gives them a tasty treat so you can slowly increase frequency and get regular compliance from your pets.
How to brush your dog/cats teeth
When we think of brushing our pets teeth, we often think of how we brush our teeth. Fortunately, for our pets it is much simpler than it looks! Start by gently holding your pets face, lifting their lips and slowly introduce your finger or a brush. Each pet is different with their tolerance so always go slowly and take precaution if you know your pet is less compliant. Once we are able to comfortably do this, slide the brush in on the side of their mouth and gently brush in a horizontal motion. Do this on each side of your pets mouth to reach the back teeth; this is generally where dental disease occurs first. It is a misconception that you have to open their mouth, you really only need to brush the buccal (facing the cheek) surface of the teeth.
What if you cannot brush your pets teeth
Some pets are very stubborn and refuse to let their owners handle their mouth or face. Although brushing is considered the gold standard, there are many products available that can help prevent dental disease. Some products include water additives, dental treats, and dry food. Many products are studied and proven to be effective by the Veterinary Oral Health Council so when deciding on what product is ideal for our pet it is recommended to look at the list of VOHC approved products for both dogs and cats which are available at your Veterinary hospital, pet stores, and some grocery stores. Try a variety of things to see what your pet likes and what works best for them.
Written by Briarwood Animal Hospital Team