Veterinarian Dr. Kim discusses dental care in cats and dogs, why it is so important, and 6 ways you can help keep your dog or cat's teeth healthy.
Although dental care is an important part of taking care of your cat or dog, the fact is that 80% of cats and dogs over 6 years of age suffer from dental disease.
What is dental disease and what causes it?
The process starts when bacteria, food, and saliva combine to form plaque. If plaque isn't removed by brushing or chewing, it reacts with minerals to form a hard, yellow substance called tartar. As the tartar builds up on the tooth and under the gums, the bacteria causes gum inflammation known as gingivitis. The bacteria can then invade around the tooth and into the soft tissues and bone leading to loose teeth, infections, and pain.
So, how can we prevent dental disease?
1. Tooth Brushing
It might seem strange but this is really the best way to reduce dental disease. It can take a while to get your pet used to having their teeth brushed but it helps to find a toothbrush size that works for you and a tasty pet toothpaste that your pet loves.
2. Dental Care Diet
In general, these have a unique kibble texture that removes plaque and tartar from the tooth surface as your pet chews. Both prescription and non-prescription dental diets are available, so we recommend having a chat with your vet about which one suits your pet best.
3. Dental Chews And Bones
If your dog uses dental chews and bones correctly, they can actually do a lot. The way it works is through the mechanical scraping of the tooth surface, removing plaque and tartar, similar to brushing. Long-lasting dental treats are best because the longer your pet chews on it the more of that brushing action they get.
Keep in mind these only work if your dog chews on both sides of the mouth and against each surface of every tooth.
4. Mouth Rinses And Water Additives
There are some great antibacterial mouth rinses available, which can either be applied directly into the mouth or soaked onto the toothbrush. You can even use them on a cloth or a little cotton tip and wipe down the teeth that way.
What about water additives?
Well, water additives won't reverse dental disease that your pet already has, but they can help to slow the growth of bacteria and help freshen the breath.
5. Dental Toys
Just like chews, dental toys work by mechanically removing plaque from the tooth surface as they chew. Dental toys are often flavored and they usually last a little bit longer than an edible treat.
6. A Yearly Scale And Polish At Your Vet
This is recommended for every pet, but it is particularly important for cats and those dogs that don't tolerate having their teeth brushed, as well as those dogs that don't like eating dry food. Your vet can perform a full scale and polish under general anesthesia and really clear out any tartar under that gumline.
Well, that's it from me. I hope that's been helpful!
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