Dental disease and other related issues are unfortunately very common in both cats and dogs. It’s estimated by age four, 50 to 90% of cats have some form of dental disease and 80% of dogs have some form of dental disease by age three.
The health of your pet’s teeth, mouth, and gums plays a very important part in their overall health. Poor dental health can lead to a wide variety of medical issues including but not limited to: broken teeth, refusal to eat due to pain, swelling and bleeding, and infected abscesses. In some cases, bacteria from the mouth may even find its way to your pet’s other organs such as their heart, liver, or kidneys.
Many pet owners struggle with keeping their pet’s mouths healthy. If you’re one of these pet owners, you’re not alone and our Greater Cincinnati veterinary hospital would love to help.
Dental Health At Home
Good dental health for cats and dogs begins at home. The best way to care for the health of your pet’s mouth is by regularly brushing their teeth with toothpaste meant for pets.
Daily brushing is ideal. If your pet won’t accept daily brushing, brushing their teeth a minimum of three times a week has been shown to be beneficial for their dental health.
The right food, treats, and toys can also help your pet maintain a healthy mouth. Chew toys and dental treats can help your pet remove tartar and plaque buildup through the natural motion of chewing, but not all treats and toys are created equally. If you’d like to supplement your pet’s brushing schedule with treats and toys, it’s best to discuss which products would best suit your pet’s needs at their next exam.
Tips For Training Your Pet
If the idea of brushing your pet’s teeth at all fills you with dread, you’re not alone!
Establishing a regular schedule for brushing can be a daunting task, especially if your pet seems to hate having their teeth brushed or they’ve never had their teeth brushed before.
The key is to be patient and remember, every pet is unique. Your pet will learn at their own pace. Trying to speed up the process will just make them more reluctant to accept having their teeth brushed.
Before you begin to establish a schedule for brushing your pet’s teeth:
- Purchase a soft-bristled toothbrush for your pet. Keep the size of your pet in mind when picking their toothbrush. An oversized toothbrush is uncomfortable for your pet and may prevent you from properly cleaning their teeth.
- If you own multiple pets, you need multiple toothbrushes. Toothbrushes should not be shared between pets.
- Only use toothpaste meant for pets while brushing your pet’s teeth. Never use toothpaste meant for humans or things such as baking soda on your pet’s teeth.
- If your pet has never had their teeth brushed before or it’s been a while since their last exam, we recommend you schedule a dental exam for your pet before attempting to brush their teeth. Cats and dogs are good at hiding pain. If your pet is experiencing dental issues you’re unaware of, brushing their teeth may cause them to lash out or become aggressive due to pain even if they are normally friendly and well trained.
Your Four Week Toothbrush Training Plan
Training your pet to love, or at least tolerate, regular brushing can take as little as four weeks.
Week One: For the first week, focus simply on introducing your pet to their toothbrush. Allow them to lick toothpaste meant for pets or a small amount of wet food from the bristles but don’t allow them to chew on the toothbrush. Do this daily and always reward them with a treat afterwards.
Week Two: Start using the toothbrush to gently wipe toothpaste or wet food on your pet’s front teeth, but don’t attempt brushing your pet’s teeth yet. Reward your pet afterwards.
Week Three: This is when you’ll begin to make brushing motions with the toothbrush. Go slow and focus on brushing their front teeth in short bursts to help them become accustomed to brushing. Do this daily and keep rewarding them with treats afterwards.
Week Four: Repeat the same steps as week three, but focus on brushing deeper into your pet’s mouth each day. Remember, slow and steady progress is the goal, so stay patient and move at your pet’s pace and your dog or cat will be a pro at toothbrushing in no time! Make sure you continue to reward your pet after every brushing.
The Importance of Regular Dental Cleanings
Even if you brush your pet’s teeth at home daily, it’s still recommended they receive regular dental cleanings.
Dental cleanings allow us to safely remove plaque, tartar, and bacteria from under the gums where regular brushing cannot reach. They also allow us to closely examine your pet’s teeth to prevent and treat dental issues early.
As pets age, their teeth can naturally weaken and require extra care, which makes regular dental exams and cleanings vital for senior pets.
You can schedule a dental exam or cleaning for your pet at Companion Animal Medical Centre online. We also hold special promotions in February and August for pets who have previously visited CAMC before where you can receive $50 dollars off a dental cleaning and a free swag bag of dental related goodies for your pet.