This is a question we answer every day and it is a good one because the health of your pet’s teeth have a direct impact on the overall health and longevity of your pet. Good oral health improves the quality of life and reduces the spread of infection from the mouth, to other vital organs like your pet’s heart, kidneys, or liver.
In protecting your pet’s teeth, it is important to learn what the stages of oral disease look like and do a “flip the lip” check every month on your pet. Here is an excellent visual link from the American Veterinary Dental College http://avdc.org/AFD/five-stages-of-pet-periodontal-disease that will help you know what you are looking at.
Next is creating a daily oral health regime for your pet. Remember how your mom taught you to brush your teeth and floss every day? Well we need to set up a similar routine for our pets. Here are some simple suggestions to create a routine.
- Daily tooth brushing for dog and cats can prevent plaque from hardening into tartar, a process that occurs in just 24-48 hours; always use toothpaste made for pets, not people.
- Feeding specially formulated foods and treats designed to prevent dental problems.
- Providing appropriate chew toys for dogs and cats.
- Feeding abrasive dental chews.
- Using commercial preventatives such as VetzLife, Plaque Off or Perio Support.
- Bringing your pet in for regular check-ups.
Until dental disease if severe, your pet may not show signs of discomfort which is why the last step in home care is knowing the signs of dental disease. Please make an appointment should you notice any of the following signs in your pet:
- Bad breath (if persistent or extremely bad)
- Brown plaque on teeth
- Red or swollen gums
- Gums that bleed easily
- Excessive salivation
- Loose teeth
- Reluctance to pick up toys with the mouth,
- Hesitating to chew, or chewing only on one side of the mouth.