It is estimates that nearly 80% of dogs and 70% of cats over the age of 3 will have some form of dental disease. This can range from bad breath to much more serious gum diseases that can get infected and cause your pet huge amounts of pain or even a severe illness.
Dental hygiene is a problem that affects all dogs and cats, although small dogs are more prone to diseases as they have a smaller area to fit all their teeth which makes cleaning more difficult. However, the majority of dental diseases are preventable with the right practice that should start from when your pet is a kitten or puppy.
As your pet gets older, dental hygiene can be a lot harder to train them to get used to while treatment for dental diseases becomes more expensive in order to get their mouth back in to top condition. By starting teeth cleaning and dental hygiene early when they are a puppy or kitten, you are making it easier on yourself and them for the future.
Introducing your puppy/kitten to teeth cleaning:
- Begin as early as possible so they get more comfortable with the process – allow them to sit on your lap while doing so to make them feel safe
- Start of slowly with sessions lasting for only a minute – they should be rewarded each time they brush their teeth
- In the early stages. You can dip the pet toothpaste in tuna juice or chicken stock in order for them to get used to the taste
- Offer the toothbrush and paste to the pet without brushing to get them used to the taste and the feel of the brush
- Once they are used to the brush and paste feeling, start off by brushing with one or two strokes, slowly increasing the amount of brushing as they feel more comfortable
- Always start at the front of the mouth as they are usually more accepting of this
- Brushing should be done in an oval motion and be sure to get in all gaps an bases of the teeth as this is where the plaque builds up
Brushing your pet’s teeth is not the only way to insure healthy teeth and gums for your pet. This should be accompanied with a good diet and other dental toys and chews. This includes feeding your pet an appropriate diet (preferably raw) that will help with their overall health and wellbeing. When they gnaw on raw meat, it acts as a natural toothbrush.
Especially for dogs, dental bones and chews are easily available and should be given regularly to help stop plaque and tartar build up. They are easier on their teeth then raw bones and allow dogs with dental work or powerful chewers a safer option.
If you are feeding your pet a diet of canned food, it is much better to go with dry kibble rather than wet food. The dry food acts as another natural toothbrush and won’t add to the plaque already on your pet’s teeth which is what wet food can do.
It is important to do regular mouth inspections on your pets in order to notice anything out of the ordinary before it becomes a problem. Open their mouth and look around, feel for loose teeth and along the gum line.
You should take your pet to the vets If you notice any of the following: bad breath; change in eating or chewing habits; pawing at the face or mouth; excessive drooling; misaligned or missing teeth; discoloured, broken or crooked teeth; red, swollen or bleeding gums; tartar crust along the gum line; or bumps or growths within the mouth.
Even if you are routinely cleaning your pet’s mouth, it is wise to take your pet to the vets yearly for an annual dental check-up. This will allow you to get on top of problems early and prevent costly and often painful visits in the future.