Do’s and Don’ts of At-Home Dental Care for your Pets

Looking after your pet’s teeth may not be the first thing that springs to mind when you think of the many care responsibilities that you have, but nevertheless, it is something that you should endeavour to factor into your daily routine. Your pet is as reliant on their teeth as you are on yours and will suffer similar problems should they not be in the best condition. In addition to severe toothache (which we all know is pretty miserable and fairly debilitating), your pet could suffer from tooth loss and infections. Studies have also shown that there is a link between poor oral health and the development of other health conditions that could potentially affect your furbaby including diabetes mellitus, heart disease and even cancer.

One of the best ways to make sure that your pet’s teeth are as healthy as possible is to carry out basic dental care at home. This may sound impossible and indeed could be tricky at first. However, with patience and perseverance, most owners can incorporate dental care into their pet’s routines. Here are some of the key do’s and don’ts of at-home dental care for pets.

Do brush your pet’s teeth

Yes really! Brushing your pet’s teeth is one of the most effective methods of keeping dental problems at bay. Although cavities tend to be fairly rare since pet food diets are very different to human ones, bacteria and food particles still need to be removed from your pet’s teeth so that decay doesn’t form and trigger the onset of periodontal disease, which is the most common dental problem affecting dogs and cats. Periodontal disease in animals is just the same as it is in humans, and left untreated, it can lead to pain, infection and tooth loss, as well as the other health problems previously mentioned. Your vet will be able to show you the best techniques for brushing your pet’s teeth.

Do use a soft-bristled, round-headed toothbrush

Sure, you can buy special veterinary toothbrushes, but a small, round-headed soft-bristled human brush is just as effective since it is easier to maneuver around your pet’s mouth.

Don’t use human toothpaste

You might be able to use a human toothbrush, but you should not use human toothpaste -ever. It contains ingredients that are highly toxic to animals. instead, stick to a veterinary-approved variety.

Do provide chews that will help clean your pet’s teeth

No, dental chews aren’t a gimmick – they really can help clean your pet’s teeth. This is large because they are abrasive, and as your furbaby chews them, they will rub up against their teeth which acts in the same manner as a toothbrush (but is not a substitute for proper brushing). Many also contain ingredients that are designed specifically with oral health in mind, reducing plaque and tartar accumulation. Look for an approval rating from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC).

Don’t forget to take your pet for their annual dental cleaning

A professional dental clean for a pet is a bit like a trip to the hygienist for us. However, professional pet dental cleans should be performed using general anesthetic, which ensures that your pet stays completely still for the duration of the appointment. Although some owners have concerns about the risks of anesthesia, these risks are far lower than the risk to your pet’s health by not having a proper clean once in a while. This appointment is also an ideal time for your veterinary dentist to undertake a thorough check-up of your pet’s teeth to ensure that no work needs to be undertaken and that there are no developing issues that require attention.

If you have any additional questions about at-home dental care for your pet, or if you would like to schedule a professional dental cleaning for your furbaby, please contact our offices where our compassionate and dedicated veterinary team would be delighted to help.