Right At Home: Your Guide to At Home Dental Care for Pets
If you can’t imagine going a day without brushing your own teeth, think about what it would feel like to never brush or floss, or see your dentist. Inconceivable? For many pets, it’s a fact of life. Bu this doesn’t have to be the case.
Good dental health can contribute to a longer and healthier life for your pet. A team approach with regular dental exams, professional cleanings, and at home dental care is a wonderful way to give your pet a lifetime of health.
But what exactly is involved? Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital is here to help, with your guide to at home dental care for pets.
The Problem With Pet Dental Disease
By the time pets are 3 years of age, most of them have dental disease. Plaque and tartar build up on dog and cat teeth the same as they do on ours. And if left undisturbed, the bacteria that cause them can migrate under the pet’s gums and destroy tooth structures, resulting in tooth loss that is painful for your pet.
To make matters worse, the bacteria that cause dental disease don’t just stay in your pet’s mouth. They enter the bloodstream and can cause myriad problems, including making diabetes regulation more difficult and damaging your pet’s liver, heart, and kidneys.
Fortunately, we can take our pets for regular cleanings and exams, and we can brush their teeth every day to prevent dental disease. If you just gasped in disbelief when we mentioned brushing your pet’s teeth, stick with us – it’s not as hard as you think! One of our skilled technicians can teach you how, and there are many videos out there that can show you the basics.
Home Dental Care For Pets
Pet toothbrush – these are your main weapons in the fight against dental disease at home. Choose a toothbrush that fits your pet’s mouth. A finger brush is great for small dogs and cats. When in doubt, ask us for the best fit for your pet.
Pet toothpaste – human toothpaste can make your pet sick. Choose a pet toothpaste in a flavor your pet loves (there are a variety of options available). The only tooth paste approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council is Petsmile toothpaste (which we have in our office). This toothpaste is approved to decrease plaque buildup if used daily. It is the ONLY product we recommend in the mouth of a pet ( no rinse, water additive, or dental chew). Pet toothpastes have ingredients that are antimicrobial or enzymatic, which prevent and control plaque.
Dental diets – several companies, including any Eukanuba or Iams dry food, Science Diet Oral Care, and the prescription food Hills T/D offer dog and cat food designed to prevent and control plaque. The Science Diet Oral Care and the Hills T/D work by scraping the plaque off the teeth. The Eukanuba and Iams dry food work by decreasing the amount of calculus buildup. These are the only diets with the VOHC seal of approval to help prevent dental disease.
Dental chews – these treats typically have an abrasive texture and may also contain ingredients that prevent tartar formation or control plaque. Either way, to reap the benefits, your pet needs to actually chew the treat for a few minutes – not simply gulp it down! Our recommendations is to only use dental chews with the VOHC seal of approval to ensure its affectiveness. The only other products we recommend for dog chews would be made of non-breakable hard rubber.
Dental rinses and sprays – we don’t recommend dental rinses, sprays, and water additives as they lack proven effectiveness.
When it comes to at home pet dental care, toothbrushing is the gold standard. At home brushing will slow down progression of dental disease. A professional cleaning will improve the health of a pet’s mouth. At Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital, we take high quality digital dental x-rays of every tooth. Then we clean, polish, and probe all teeth. Then, the x-ray and probing results are put together to assess the health of all the teeth and gums.
There are lots of products that promote dental health at home, but toothbrushing at home is the one and only at home program we recommend to help keep dental disease at bay in between dental cleanings.
Conrad Weiser Animal Hospital:
Where big city medicine and surgery meet small town customer service and value.