According to the American Veterinary Dental Society, 70% of adult cats and 80% of adult dogs show symptoms of oral disease. Exceptionally bad breath, a brownish plaque at the base of the teeth, excessive drooling, sore or bleeding gums when eating or chewing, and decreased appetite can all be signs that a pet’s teeth require attention.
Maintaining strong dental health and a regular cleaning program not only assures that your pet’s mouth and teeth will remain in excellent condition, but will also help to prevent infections that can spread through the bloodstream to affect major organs such as your pet’s liver, kidneys, and heart.
Brush your dog’s teeth
- Choose the right toothbrush—There are dog toothbrushes that closely resemble human toothbrushes, but they are smaller and have softer bristles. Some dogs better tolerate a finger toothbrush, which fits over your finger and gives you the ability to access some of those hard-to-reach teeth.
- Use a dog-friendly toothpaste—Fluoride is toxic to dogs, so never use a human toothpaste on your pup. There are many pet-friendly options (and they often come in flavors your dog will love, like beef or poultry). If you’d rather make your own, mix 1 tablespoon baking soda with 1 teaspoon water.
- Wear him out—Brushing your dog’s teeth will usually be easier if he’s tired and calm. Take him for a long walk or let him run around the dog park for a while before attempting to clean his teeth.
- Brush his teeth—Working in circular motions, you’ll begin in the back of the mouth and move toward the front. Focus on the outside surface of each tooth because that’s where most of the plaque and tartar will build up. If he tolerates it, then work on the inside surface of each tooth.
- Don’t force it—If your dog shows signs that he is scared or uncomfortable, stop brushing, give him affection, offer a treat, and try again tomorrow.
Give food, treats, and toys that promote oral health
There are some dog foods and treats specifically formulated to address dental disease in dogs. Chew toys can help prevent plaque buildup.
Visit our hospital for regular preventive care visits
Your dog should visit us at least once per year so we can evaluate his overall health, including his oral health. Depending on the condition of his teeth, we may recommend a professional dental cleaning for your dog, which gives us the ability to remove bacteria from above the gum line to prevent gum disease.
Part of your pet’s annual wellness exam at Brodheadsville Veterinary Clinic will include checking on the health of their gums, mouth, and teeth. Our veterinarians and staff will take the time to instruct you on proper at-home dental care, including brushing and providing your pet with dental chews and treats.
For your convenience, our pharmacy is stocked with a variety of dental care products to make your at-home dental care as beneficial to your pet as possible. If you would like more information and tips on caring for your pet’s teeth, the ASPCA has excellent information both for dogs and cats.
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