February is unfolding to be a very busy month with our pets with Valentine’s Day on the 14th, World Spay Day on the 25th and National Pet Dental Health for well, the whole month of February. According to the American Veterinary Dental society, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by age three. Dental disease can cause serious problems for your pet, from gum inflammation and tooth loss to infection and even possibly organ damage. Beginning at age one, your pet should have an annual dental exam and cleaning performed by your veterinarian. It is also vital to give your pet regular home checks and cleaning to prevent disease. Follow the tips below for fresh breath and a happy mouth!
- Give your dog the breath test. Smell your dogs breath, its not going to smell like your favorite perfume or cologne but if your pets breath is unbearably stinky and is accompanied by a loss of appetite, vomiting or excessive drinking or urinating, it’s time to take a trip to your vet.
- Examine your pets gums and teeth. It is a good idea to check your dogs teeth and gums once a week. To do this, with your dog facing you, lift your pet’s lip and look at his gums and teeth. Gums should be an even light pink – not white or red, with no signs of swelling. His teeth should be clean, white, without any brownish tartar.
- Signs of Oral Disease: Bad breath, Excessive drooling, tumors in the gums, loose teeth, cysts under the tongue, inflamed gums. If your dog is showing any of the above signs he may have a problem in his mouth or gastrointestinal system and should be taken to the vet.
- Buy a canine tooth brushing kit and ask your vet for canine specific toothpaste. You can also brush your dogs teeth by wrapping a clean piece of soft gauze around your finger and making a toothpaste out of baking soda and water. Do not use fluoride with dogs under 6 months of age which could cause complications with enamel formation and do not use human toothpaste.
- The act of brushing: if this is your first time brushing your dogs teeth you should first familiarize your dog with the idea, massage his or her lips with your finger in a circular motion for 30-60 seconds once or twice a day for a few weeks. When you think your dog is comfortable with having his teeth brushed, put a little dogie toothpaste on his lips to get him used to the taste. Now introduce the dogie toothbrush, and lastly apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a brushing.
- Brushing Technique: Place the brush at a 45 degree angle to the teeth and clean in small, circular motions. Work on a single area at a time, lifting your pets lip when needed. The side of the tooth that is against the cheek often has the most tartar, giving a final downward stroke can help to remove it. If your dog is uncomfortable with the inner surfaces of his teeth cleaned, its okay, only small amounts of tartar accumulation is found there.
- Chew toys satisfy your dog’s desire to chomp, while making teeth strong. But chewing on a chew toy also helps massage his gums and help keep his teeth clean scraping away soft tartar.
- Diet for Healthy Teeth: Dry food is generally better than canned for tooth health. For best results ask your vet about specially formulated foods that can slow down the formation of plaque and tartar.