Keep Your Pets Smiling during Pet Dental Health Awareness Month

dog with electric toothbrushWith the exception of a pet owner going in for a slobbery kiss or cuddle they rarely take a peek into the mouths of their cat or dog. Many are unaware that the buildup of bacteria lurking within the crevices of pet’s teeth may contribute to serious health complications. In recognition of February being National Pet Dental Health Month, Central Veterinary Associates (CVA) reminds pet owners to protect their fanged friends’ health through routine dental care.

Many people are unaware that, like with humans, poor dental hygiene is a leading factor in the health of a pet’s internal organs. The continuous build up of tartar over time may lead to inflammation of an animal’s gums, gingivitis, or serious infections such as periodontitis. Left untreated, periodontitis may lead to bone loss, painful abscesses, difficulty eating or infection of the heart, liver, lungs and kidneys caused by the spread of bacteria through the blood stream.

“People are accustomed to going to regular checkups with their dentists and brushing their teeth on a daily basis, however oftentimes neglect the maintenance of their pet’s dental hygiene,” says Dr. John Charos, DVM, President/CEO, Central Veterinary Associates. “I always emphasize the importance of good dental hygiene with pet owners. The well-being of cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits and other pets can be affected by proper care for pet’s teeth, gums and breath. Owners should consider visiting their vet for a full pet dental exam to better understand how dental health affects overall health.”

Bad breath is an indicator that pet owners should address the dental care of their dog or cat. The recognition of a drastic change in the scent of the pet’s breath should prompt them to bring the animal in for a full dental exam at their local veterinarian’s office, which is encouraged annually. This will allow your veterinarian to visually examine the pet’s face, mouth, teeth and gums. Sometimes, the doctor sedates the pet in order to get a thorough look inside its mouth to ensure there are no dental diseases.

Pet owners can improve their pet’s dental health through regular maintenance, such as brushing the cat or dog’s teeth. Since cats and dogs do not know to “swish” or “spit” on command, it is important to purchase a pet-approved, non-toxic toothpaste that contains enzymes to break down the plaque. Unlike the ones made for human dental hygiene, pet toothpaste is edible and has a flavorful taste, which comes in handy when trying to appeal to the animal. Proper dental care standards suggest that pet owners brush their pet’s teeth at least two or three times a week to prevent dental diseases, plaque buildup and bad breath.

In addition to regular cleanings and brushing, anti-bacterial supplements are available for water dishes, which can reduce the amount of oral bacteria that causes foul-smelling mouth odors. Pet treats, created with animal-safe ingredients that clean teeth, eradicate plaque, strengthen gums and leaves breath smelling fresh, are available at local pet stores. There are also veterinary prescription diets available that can be used if your veterinarian deems appropriate.

CVA keeps its hospital in Valley Stream open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, even in the event of a natural disaster.

4 thoughts on “Keep Your Pets Smiling during Pet Dental Health Awareness Month”

  1. We have a friend who rescued an Italian greyhound; the poor dog had to have all of its teeth pulled due its previous owners not taking proper care of its teeth! We’ve been trying our best to avoid such dental disasters with our border collie by giving him one of those “dog toothbrush” treats a day. We haven’t really been brushing his teeth, though, since that seems like a pain; however, after reading this article, I’ll consider putting forth the effort so our pooch stays in the best of health!

  2. I agree, maintaining proper dental health for pets is important to live a healthier life. You mentioned that bad breath is an indicator that my cat needs to have their mouth taken better care of. I feel that taking her to a vet for a checkup should be possible, but I’m not sure how to go about cleaning her teeth. She gets really squirmy when I hold her, or when I need her to hold still, so brushing her teeth would be difficult. Do you have any tips that will make brushing my cat’s teeth easier? I feel like giving her pet treats that can clean teeth will be easier, but I want to know how to clean her teeth so that she can have a healthy mouth.

    1. Hello Judy! We are glad to hear that you are looking into keeping your cat’s teeth as healthy as can be by brushing her teeth. For felines they make a cat-sized dental brush that can be found online or at a pet store. You can pair her kitty toothbrush with feline toothpaste that usually comes in fish or chicken flavor. Sometimes a finger brush may work best.

      To brush her teeth hold her on your lap and let her get comfortable. Use your finger to gently raise her lip on one side of her mouth and with the same finger (if using a finger brush) begin brushing her teeth. Make sure the brush strokes your using go away from the gum line so that you can remove the food particles. On the bottom jaw brush her teeth using upward strokes away from the gum line and on the top jaw brush her teeth using downward strokes away from the gum line.

      Continue brushing around the outside of her teeth on both sides until the entire mouth has been cleaned. The feline toothpaste does not contain chemicals that can hurt her so rinsing is not necessary. Regardless make her water bowl accessible to her once you’ve finished. If at any point, your pet becomes stressed or resistant, it is okay to try again at a later time. For some pets, it will be a process to get them comfortable with having their teeth brushed.

      If you would like a demonstration, feel free to call one of our offices to make an appointment. Thank you!

  3. I did not know that so much went into dental health for your pet. Oral health has a lot to do with overall health. I want to keep my pet healthy by doing regular check ups including dental care.

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