Looking after your pet’s teeth is very important! You wouldn’t skip brushing your own teeth, and it’s no different for our pets. Many of the dental issues we see in practice can be easily prevented by getting your pet into a good dental hygiene routine.
What are the consequences of not looking after my pet’s teeth?
Not looking after your pet’s teeth can lead to various complications. Here are some common dental issues we see in practice:
Unpleasant breath odour, or halitosis, isn’t a given with pets! Good dental care and oral hygiene helps to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth, limiting nasty niffs. If you find yourself recoiling from your pet’s breath, it is time to seek a little help with their dental care.
Plaque and tatar build-up
Plaque naturally builds on the teeth and can, if left, turn to tartar and start to damage the gum and structures. With a regular dental routine in place, this helps to remove plaque before it has a chance to harden and turn into plaque.
Sadly, premature tooth loss is something we see regularly. Allowing bacteria to form below the gum line will ultimately weaken the structure, causing teeth to become loose and fall out. In some cases, the bacteria can cause a painful infection and more invasive treatment is required.
Bacteria from dental infections can enter the bloodstream and spread to their vital organs, sometimes with fatal consequences. This can all be avoided by devoting a little time each day to keeping their teeth clean.
How can I introduce toothbrushing to my pet?
It’s never too late to introduce toothbrushing as part of your pet’s oral care routine! Here are 5 steps to follow to help them adjust to toothbrushing:
Get your pet familiar with having their teeth and gums inspected. The earlier you can get your pet used to you examining their teeth, the better. Lift their lips to expose their teeth and gums. Have a good look at all their teeth. Offer plenty of positive reinforcement when this is well-tolerated. A tasty dental treat will go a long way!
Introduce toothpaste slowly. Most pet toothpastes come in flavours pets will enjoy, like liver or chicken. It’s important you use a pet-friendly toothpaste. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be toxic to pets. Start off by squeezing some toothpaste on your finger, then let your pet have a good sniff. They’ll probably try to lick it off! Work up to combining these two steps - lifting their lips to examine their teeth and then applying some of the toothpaste from your finger.
Bring in the toothbrush. Apply the toothpaste to the toothbrush and let them sniff and lick it. Gradually work up to brushing their teeth. Start at the front and don’t try to brush for a prolonged period of time. Take frequent breaks and give lots of positive reinforcement.
Keep up a daily routine. Brushing your pet’s teeth daily will help to keep their teeth and gums healthy, help to avoid bad breath and many other dental issues. If you do this daily, your pet will soon adjust to their new routine!
Learn the signs of dental disease to watch out for. By familiarising yourself with the signs of dental disease, you’ll be able to spot any issues at an earlier stage when they may be easier (and often more cost-effective) to treat. Signs to look out for include bad breath, pain or difficulty eating, buildup of plaque and tartar, sore-looking or bleeding gums and excessive drooling.
Slow and steady wins the race with toothbrushing! Try to keep the experience as positive for your pet as possible. With cats, they may feel comforted being wrapped in a towel when it’s time for their teeth to be brushed. This has a secondary benefit for you - keeping their claws nicely contained during the process!
In addition to toothbrushing, there are a wide range of dental treats and chews available to help keep your pet’s teeth in great condition. As with any treats, follow the feeding guidance on the packaging to make sure your pet is receiving the right amount each day.
Dental checks with your Pet Health Plan
Sign up to our Pet Health Plan and as one of the many benefits, your pet will receive an annual health check with a Vet and a 6-month health check with a Veterinary Nurse. During these check ups, our team will examine your pet’s teeth. This allows for any problems to be caught at an earlier stage. You’ll also receive 10% discount on products in practice, including dental treats, chews, pet mouthwash and chew toys.
We’re here to help
The steps above should help to get your pet familiar and comfortable with having their teeth brushed. Keep it up and it will quickly become part of their daily routine, just like brushing our teeth is for us. If you have any concerns about your pet’s dental health, book an appointment with our team today.