Keeping your pet's teeth in good condition is important to ensure they remain happy and healthy. As dogs and cats are not able to brush their own teeth, plaque can build up and cause dental pain, periodontal disease and tooth loss. In the worst cases, untreated gum disease can lead to a bacterial infection which can cause heart disease and kidney issues. Take a look at these five simple tips to ensure your pet's teeth stay as healthy as possible.
1) Brush their teeth
Many pet owners are surprised that their pet's teeth need to be brushed. However, just like their human owners, dogs and cats experience the same consequences of tartar build up and tooth decay. When you brush your cat or dog's teeth, you should never use toothpaste that is meant for humans, as it can irritate your pet’s stomach. Instead, ask your vet for pet toothpaste, which is usually meat-flavoured and will be a tasty treat for your pet. You may need to introduce your cat or dog to a tooth brushing routine by starting off by massaging its mouth with your fingers. After a few days of this, move on to massaging its gums gently with the toothpaste. You can then try out a full brush, once your pet is comfortable with the whole process. This should happen around twice a week for optimal dental health.
2) Visit the vet
Make sure you visit the vet on a regular basis and ask them to check over your pet's teeth every time you go for an appointment. Remember that a cat or dog's bad-smelling breath can be a sign of gum disease, so it's worth seeing your vet for a check-up if you notice this in your pet. A vet will be able to spot any potential problems, such as decayed teeth or gum disease, and will be able to act quickly in order to target the problem with medication or with surgery to remove diseased teeth.
3) Know the signs of an unhealthy mouth
Pet owners need to be alert to signs of dental problems. These include: bleeding, bad breath and swollen gums (gingivitis), loose teeth, bad breath, sneezing (periodontal disease), lumpy gums (mouth tumours), and food sticking in the teeth (which will cause tartar to build up). If you notice these signs, book a check-up with your vet.
4) Consider your pet's diet
A good quality diet will help to keep your pet's teeth in the best possible condition. Certain types of dry food work to clean your pet's teeth as they eat. This kind of food also ensures your cat or dog consumes the correct vitamins and minerals they need in order to keep their mouths healthy. Your vet will be able to advise you about the best dog or cat food brands to try if your pet is prone to dental problems, or if you're keen to prevent future dental health issues.
5) Give your pet a chew toy
Your dog's teeth could benefit from a chew toy, which will massage gums and scrape away tartar. Your cat can be given a large raw bone to chew on. It is essential never to give them cooked chicken, pork or fish bones as they can splinter. Raw bones can help in controlling tartar levels and will keep your pet's gums healthy. Following these tips ensures your pet won't suffer with the pain of infected gums and can prevent the onset of more serious future issues. This helps to keep vet's bills down and more importantly, means your cat or dog will stay healthy, sprightly and happy for longer.
Alex Johnson is a freelance writer and animal lover based in Oxford, writing on behalf of MORE TH>N. These are her own thoughts and do not represent the views of MORE TH>N. Visit their website for more information on how to insure your pet.
Image of child and dog by Daleberts