Dental health for pets
Oral health for all - Fido and Fluffy, too!
Practicing good oral health matters to all members of your family, even those with
four legs and a tail. Just like us, pets are at risk for problems such as gingivitis,
periodontal disease, tooth loss and tooth decay.
According to the American Veterinary
Dental Society, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of
oral disease by age 3. That means you should begin caring from your pet’s teeth
from day 1.
- Visit the vet
Scheduling an annual checkup is important in maintaining your pet’s health. It provides
an opportunity to check in, ask questions and raise concerns. During those visits,
your veterinarian will give your dog or cat vaccinations as well as a physical examination
that includes an oral exam. At that time, he or she will make recommendations regarding
professional cleaning and home care.
It may seem odd at first, but it is important to establish a brushing routine early
in your pet’s life. Ease into the process to make the adjustment comfortable for
Sit or kneel near your pet so as not to appear threatening; be patient and gentle.
You may wish to start by lightly rubbing a soft cloth or gauze-wrapped finger along
his or her teeth. After a few weeks of practicing this daily, you may be ready to
advance to a fingerbrush. Be sure to use a pet-specific toothpaste—they are formulated
for animals and come in flavors that appeal to them. You may also use a paste of
baking soda and water.
The American Animal Hospital Association and others recommend
brushing at a 45 degree angle using a gentle, circular motion. You may need to lift
your dog or cat’s lip to brush along the gum line. Brushing time should last at
least 2 minutes, but this might be something you need to build up to over time.
To learn more, talk to your vet or check out this instructional video for cats and instructional slideshow for dogs.
- Schedule a professional cleaning
As we discussed above, your veterinarian will likely suggest a professional cleaning.
Much like the professional cleanings we humans get twice a year, professional pet
teeth cleaning is more thorough than those you provided at home. The frequency may
vary, but it tends to be an annual procedure.
- Keep an eye on things
Between veterinarian visits, look for changes to your pet’s teeth, gums and mouth.
Gums should generally be pink—not white, red or swollen. Breath should not be too
offensive. If you notice any changes to the mouth or the way your pet is eating,
schedule a vet appointment.
Just as they are in humans, oral health problems can be a sign of other illnesses.
For instance, halitosis may be the result of kidney failure, diabetes and other
Oral health and overall
health are linked in humans and animals. Provide your pets with preventive
care to give them the healthiest, happiest and longest life possible.
Click here to learn more
about pet dental insurance, and
here to learn more about shopping for human dental insurance!