When you were growing up, how many times did your parents tell you to brush your teeth? From a young age, we were taught the importance of dental care and about the major role it plays in our overall health. The same is true for your pets!
Dental care for your pet is extremely important. Not taking care of your pet’s teeth could not only end up costing your pet some teeth, but could also be very expensive in the long run.
Why is dental care so important?
There is nothing worse than sitting beside a dog with really bad breath. Along with bad breath, a few signs that your dog needs their teeth checked by an veterinarian are the following:
- excessive drooling
- inflamed gums
- bleeding gums
- reduced appetite
- discolouration of teeth
- visible tartar build-up
- any loose teeth
In some severe cases, dogs and cats may wind up with an infection that can spread into their jaws and surrounding tissues, causing your pet a lot of pain. Dogs and cats can also develop dental diseases such as gingivitis, which can be very painful for your beloved pet! Mild gingivitis is considered to be an early stage of a gum disease that is called periodontal disease. In both cases, tooth extractions can become necessary.
Pets can also wear down their teeth and in some cases even break a tooth if their dental health is not being maintained. And it’s not like they can brush their own teeth!
What can you do to take care of your pet’s teeth?
Like humans, one of the best ways to take care of your pet’s teeth is by brushing them. As many pet parents know, this is sometimes easier said than done.
Try to make toothbrush time a positive experience for them rather than something they see as a punishment. Use positive reinforcement by offering praise and rewarding with treats. Start slowly by only brushing for a couple of seconds, and gradually increase the amount of time brushing their teeth.
There are a couple of different options for pet toothbrushes, which you can find at almost any pet store in Edmonton. You can get ones that are similar to a toothbrush used for children or one that goes onto your finger.
Do not use human toothpaste for your pets! Instead, get a good quality pet toothpaste. Pet toothpaste is made up of ingredients that are safe for your dog/cat to swallow and generally contain enzymes to break down plaque and tartar on your fur babies’ teeth. There are flavours like chicken or beef available to help win your pet over when brushing their teeth by making it a good (and tasty!) experience.
Another option is to use dental wipes for your pet. These can be purchased at any local pet store. While they aren’t as good as brushing, they can be a great option if trying to brush your dog’s teeth is a challenge, and they are great to use on the go.
One way to keep plaque and tartar from building up on your pet’s teeth (specifically dogs) is by having them chew. Chewing naturally scrapes the plaque off of your dog’s teeth. Everyone these days has a different opinion on what is best for pets to chew on, so this is a great thing to talk with your vet about to help you decide what is best for your pet.
Many people give their dogs deer antlers to gnaw on, but they are not recommended by some vets as they are extremely hard and dogs can break their teeth if they chew too hard.
Professional Vet Tooth Cleaning
All pets, just like humans, should have their teeth checked annually by a professional. Vets will see things like plaque and tartar buildup on the back teeth of our pets, just like dentists can see these issues for humans. Unfortunately, brushing will not be able to get rid of tartar build-up once it’s already there.
All dogs should get their teeth professionally cleaned by their vet. Many pet parents worry about their pets being put under anesthesia, but it’s not something that you should be too worried about. It’s standard that a blood work panel will be done before any anesthesia is given, and if there is any concern, the vet will call you for further discussion. Vets will not put a pet under anesthesia if they feel there is any sort of risk to them.
While under anesthesia, vets are able to take any x-rays deemed necessary, do a full cleaning, and extract any teeth need that need to be removed.
A big issue that many pet owners face for professional dental cleaning is the cost. Cleaning and tooth extractions can cost anywhere from $600 to over $1000 depending on how extensive the work required is. Most vets will give you a breakdown of costs before performing any procedures, and some will give you a full estimate of costs prior to booking your pet’s dental appointment.
Happy National Pet Dental Health Month
February is National Pet Dental Health Month and many vets in Edmonton are offering dental services at a discounted rate! If you have been holding off on getting dental work (such as a cleaning) done for your pet, this would be a great month to do it. The cost of dental care for pets can be a concern for pet families, so please note that some vet clinics do offer payment plans.
Maintaining good dental health for your pet is vital. It’s as important as getting your pet vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
Healthy teeth and gums equal healthy pets!
Happy brushing everyone!