February is National Pet Dental Health Month per the AVMA.
Are your pet’s teeth a regular part of routine care? They should be. Did you know that oral hygiene can also affect internal organs? We had a Chocolate Lab client who had to postpone training because he got sick from what was initially thought of as a stomach problem. Turned out it was the bacteria in his mouth he was swallowing that was making him so sick. A trip to the vet for a professional cleaning was all he needed to make a full recovery.
When you take your pet for a dental cleaning, the vet has to anesthetize him. Don’t get me wrong, I know loads of people who take their pet in once a year for a professional dental cleaning and all goes well. Usually everything is fine, and in all my years of working with animals I have only known one person to lose their cat to a routine dental, due to complications with the anesthesia. And for me, one is enough. My personal opinion is if there’s a way to prevent it, then prevent it. Why put your pet under if you don’t have to? And when you think about this, older pets are the ones who usually have dental problems – and older pets have the highest risk under anesthesia. Why take the chance?
Thankfully oral hygiene for dogs and cats has become more popular. These days there are products out there to combat tarter and gum disease with enzymatic toothpaste, pet toothbrushes, finger brush, dental chews, dental rinses, toys, treats, and starter dental kits. (All these links pertain to dog dental care. There are also a ton of products out there for cats as well.) My dog’s favorite dental toy is the Nylabone Double Action Chew. I put his doggie poultry flavored toothpaste in the groves and he goes to town! He also loves to get his teeth brushed.
There is a very easy way to introduce your dog or cat to teeth brushing which has worked for every single person I have ever met. (The video is at the bottom of this post for your viewing pleasure.) Here is a brief re-cap for you.
Step #1. Get a species appropriate flavored toothpaste your pet likes. (Use dog toothpaste for your dog, and cat toothpaste for your cat.) Most brands have poultry, beef, malt, and even seafood
Step #2. Put the toothpaste into the bristles all the way down to the base of the toothbrush
Step #3. Hold out toothbrush in front of your pet as still as possible. You want to be non-invasive. Let the pet come to the toothbrush, don’t charge it down his throat.
Step #4. Let your pet really get chewing and feel comfortable before you manipulate it around his mouth and start actual brushing.
One last piece of dental advice I will leave you with is be careful about what type of food you feed your dog. If you give your dog pizza crust, make sure the bread isn’t stuck rotting in the back of your dog’s mouth. Avoid sugar sweets, and always check with your vet if you have any questions.
If you are having trouble playing the video, go straight to You Tube HERE.