Dental Care

Periodontal disease in pets is a common health problem that veterinarians see

Periodontal disease in  pets is a common health problem that veterinarians see, yet many pet owners are still in the dark about preventing it or treating it. Don’t think that because your pet isn’t showing signs of oral discomfort that everything is fine.

Untreated oral disease can lead to infection that can spread to your pet’s heart, lungs, and kidneys. Only your veterinarian can tell you if your pet’s mouth needs a professional cleaning, but if not, there are simple ways you can keep those pearly whites clean at home.

Examine your pet’s mouth regularly for warning signs which can include brown colored teeth; swollen, red, or bleeding gums; continued bad breath; broken and/or loose teeth; pus near the gumline; or any unusual growths.

Non-visual signs can include reluctance to chew or eat, reluctance to drink cold water, and avoidance of chew toys or playing. If you notice any of these signs, consult your veterinarian.

Brushing your pet’s teeth may sound silly, but it’s the best way to keep their mouth clean.

Dry dog foods and hard biscuits can help scrape the teeth clean, but brushing the teeth is the best option.

Starting to brush teeth when your pet is young can help with acceptance, but most pets can be acclimated to brushing over time.

Start by just putting your finger in the mouth and rubbing the gums gently with your finger. Dipping your finger in chicken or beef bouillon (for dogs) or tuna water (for cats) to entince them to allow you to put your finger in their mouth. Once they are comfortable with that, try wrapping your finger in gauze and lightly rubbing the teeth, focusing mostly on the gum line. Once they are comfortable with the gauze, try moving on to brushing.

Use a toothbrush designed for pets or get an ultra-soft tooth brush for humans. Never use toothpaste designed for people; always use a specially formulated dog/cat toothpaste to avoid upsetting their stomach. Try to hold the bristles of the brush at a 45 degree angle, and be sure to scrub the gum line where food particles can hide and odor and infection begin.

  1. Place your hand over your pet’s muzzle from the top
  2. Gently squeeze and push his lips on one side between the back teeth (to keep his mouth open)
  3. Pull his head back gently so his mouth opens
  4. Brush his teeth on the opposite side
  5. Repeat this process for the other side

It’s important, too, to keep brushing sessions short and as stress-free as possible. Sometimes wrapping your pet in a bath towel or blanket can make them feel safer.