Dental care is as important for our pets as is it is for us. In this blog, our Bedford vets discuss the importance of cat and dog dental health as well as how often you should be brushing their teeth.
Cat & Dog Dental Care
The oral health of cats and dogs plays an essential part in their overall physical health and wellbeing because a lack of routine dental care for our pets can lead to painful teeth and gums as well as various dental conditions such as tooth decay and periodontal disease. This makes it integral for you to provide your furry companion with routine dental care, which includes both at-home teeth brushing and professional dental exams and hygiene cleanings at your vet's office.
At-Home Dental Care for Dogs and Cats
Brushing your cat or dog's teeth at home ideally once a day between their dental appointments is the best way to prevent the build-up of harmful plaque and bacteria in their mouths. It also provides you with the opportunity to identify any developing symptoms of a dental condition such as yellow teeth, bad breath, red swollen gums, or even bleeding in their mouth.
When you go to brush your cat or dog's teeth make sure they are in a calm state. If this is your first time brushing your pet's teeth you probably won't be able to give them a full brushing session. The first several times you try brushing your pet's teeth start by massaging their gums and teeth in small circular motions to get them used to the feeling of being touched in their mouths and work your way up to a minute. Then you can introduce the toothpaste. There is special toothpaste made specifically for cats and dogs that come in flavors they will love such as chicken or beef. Start by letting them lick a bit of the toothpaste off of your finger rewarding them with treats and pets in between sessions.
When your pet is used to the toothpaste you can introduce the toothbrush by letting them lick a bit of the cat or dog toothpaste off of the brush. After a few days, you can gradually start brushing their teeth. Brush their teeth in the same small circular motion as you did the massages, it will take several tries before your cat or dog will let you fully brush their teeth, so it's okay if you only get a couple of teeth done at first.
If it's too hard to brush your furry companion's teeth there are several alternative options available such as a food and water additive, as well as dental chews for cats or dogs. Your veterinarian will be able to provide you with guidance on the dental care routines or products that will work best for your pet.
The Importance of Veterinary Dentistry
Just as you see your dentist, cats and dogs also require professional dental care. At-home brushing and dental care can't replace professional dental exams and cleanings at your veterinarian's office. You should bring your cat or dog to see their vet for a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year. Veterinarians are highly trained and qualified to get your pet's mouth as clean as possible as well as to identify any arising dental conditions early such as plaque build-up or periodontal disease. When these serious dental conditions are caught in their earliest stages they are easier and more affordable to treat. In every dental cleaning, your vet will also apply a dental sealant that will help prevent plaque from attaching to your pet's tooth enamel.