We should brush our teeth twice a day and go to a dentist at least once a year. The teeth of our pets are no different and need a similar level of care. Ideally you will start brushing your pet’s teeth when they’re a puppy or a kitten. At a young age it’s easy for them to learn that this is part of the daily routine. Even if you missed that opportunity and you have an adult pet it’s never too late to start! First become comfortable with opening your pet’s mouth and looking inside. Lift the lip and look at the teeth, especially the ones in the back. Then gently open the mouth and look at the inside of the teeth.
Just like people the teeth should be clean, white and firmly rooted in the gums. There shouldn’t be any staining or tartar. The gums should be pink and smooth. You should not see any redness or bleeding. When you start brushing their teeth, use a special pet toothbrush and animal toothpaste. Do your best to brush all surfaces of the teeth. Never use human toothpastes because they contain foaming agents which are not meant to be swallowed. Your pet will love chicken or beef flavored animal toothpaste and will gladly swallow this ‘tasty treat’ when you’ve finished brushing. Most pets will grow to accept this daily ritual. Even brushing twice per week can remove most of the plaque before it is able to mineralize into tartar.
Just like your own teeth, your pet’s teeth have nerves and can feel pain. Since they are not able to tell us, we may only receive subtle cues that they are experiencing oral pain. For example, they may stop eating their food because it hurts their mouth. You may think they don’t like the food anymore, when in fact their mouth hurts.
Significant health problems
Just like us, bad breath can be caused by poor oral hygiene. It can also be sign of a more significant health problem. Every time an animal chews, the bacteria in the mouth will make their way into the blood stream and may seed other areas in the body and lead to infection virtually anywhere the bloodstream carries them. Many systemic issues present themselves in the mouth, therefore it’s important to bring your pet in regularly and have a veterinarian check its mouth. If you have any questions about dental care or you want to make an appointment for a dental check-up, please give us a call!
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