Home dental care and regular professional cleanings performed by your veterinarian are the best gifts you can give to your pet. Without them, plague turns into tartar leading to gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), followed by periodontitis (loosening of the teeth). Gingivitis if treated early can be cured. Periodontitis in pets, on the other hand, can only be controlled and not cured. In addition to loose teeth and pain, the infection in the mouth associated with periodontitis can spread to other organs especially the kidneys and valves of the heart.
WHAT KIND OF HOME DENTAL CARE IS AVAILABLE
The Toothbrush – Daily brushing is the key to dental home care. Just as with your own teeth, nothing beats brushing. The toothbrush bristles are able to reach between teeth and under gums. Finger brushes are also available for those of you who can’t get your dog to accept a toothbrush.
Toothpaste – Enzymatic pet toothpastes are excellent for helping to reduce plaque and freshening the breath. It is very important not to use human toothpastes as these contain sudsing agents which are not expected to be swallowed and could upset your pet’s stomach. Pet toothpaste comes in a variety of flavours – mint and poultry seem to be the favourites.
Dental Treats – Dental treats are also very beneficial to reduce plague and remove tartar. Many treats contain an ingredient called hexametaphosphate which has been proven to bind to calculus and help to soften it. The abrasive action of a hard treat such as “Greenies” or a high quality rawhide chew then scrapes away the softened tartar. Remember to always supervise your dog when giving chew treats and throw out the rawhide chews when they get reduced to a size which can be swallowed. Never give real animal bones to your pet. They are totally undigestible – the way it goes in is the way it comes out. Also broken teeth are a common consequence.
Dental Diets – Realizing that daily brushing of your pet’s teeth is not the easiest routine to master, some therapeutic diets have been developed to actually scrape off the tartar with each bite. The individual kibbles are manufactured in such a way to allow the pet’s tooth to puncture the kibble without the kibble breaking up and then as the tooth pulls out the tooth is mechanically scraped. Makes dental home care pretty easy now, doesn’t it!
RECOMMENDATION: If your pet is over a year of age and you are just starting your dental home care see your veterinarian before you begin. If your pet has more advanced dental disease your vet can advise you on the best course of action.
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