Humans have longer lifespans now than they ever had. While this can be contributed to many factors, one of the main reasons we live longer nowadays is because we are better at taking care of our teeth. It’s crucial for us to have good dental care in order to live long and happy lives. The same can be said for your pet.
Dental disease is not something to mess with. It’s much more than just your pet’s breath smelling. When it comes to toothaches, pets experience just as much pain as humans do, the only difference is they can’t complain like we do. In addition, untreated dental problems can lead to major infections, including in the blood, heart, or kidneys.
During your pet’s normal annual exam, it’s important that your veterinarian is also checking your pet’s teeth. They may recommend a professional cleaning. While this might sound silly to some of you, it’s a good idea to get your pet’s teeth cleaned every year or two (most pets require it). Often during routine examinations, I come across pet patients who have been suffering with dental disease for months or even years. When this is the case, there’s usually little hope of saving any infected teeth. This can be costly for you and incredibly challenging for your pet, who may have to adjust to new food or toys after tooth loss.
One of the best ways to prevent this in the first place is home dental care. The most effective home care is brushing your pet’s teeth. This can be a daunting task, but it’s not impossible. The first step is finding a toothpaste your pet likes the taste of. I always have the most success with poultry-flavored toothpaste. Never use human toothpaste on your pet because it is not made to be swallowed, and I promise you that your pet will swallow it. Before you ever start brushing, use the toothpaste as a treat. You can put it on your finger and let your pet lick it off, this will teach them that toothpaste is fun and rewarding. After a while you should slowly transition to using your finger to rub the toothpaste on the outside of their teeth. After a few weeks, you should be able to use a toothbrush or thimble brush to brush your pet’s teeth.
If you can’t get seem to brush your pet’s teeth, there are other options! Dental chews, dental rinses, and water additives, while not as effective as brushing, can be really good options or additions to your pet’s dental routine. They will decrease the amount of bacteria in your pet’s mouth. As with all things pet related, always follow the recommendations of your veterinarian, as they will likely have a product they have tested and approved.
It’s extremely important to get your pet’s teeth examined annually by your veterinarian to avoid any infections and keep your pet healthy!