How often do you actually need to brush your pet’s teeth?
As pet lovers, we often focus on giving our furry friends the best of everything—food, exercise, toys, grooming and more. One aspect of pet care that is unfortunately overlooked too often is dental health. Just like humans, pets can suffer from dental issues including gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath.
Veterinarians estimate that about 80% of pets will develop dental disease by three years of age. Poor dental hygiene in pets can lead to serious health problems and affect their overall quality of life. No one wants that for our four-legged buddies.
Let’s take a closer look at the importance of pet dental health and review helpful tips to maintain proper dental hygiene in dogs and cats.
Why Pet Dental Health Matters
Pet dental health is a crucial aspect of overall pet care. Just like in humans, poor dental hygiene in pets can lead to a host of other health problems. Dental issues can cause discomfort, pain, and even serious health conditions that can shorten the lifespan of your pet.
Some of the common problems associated with poor pet dental health include:
- Gum disease: Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a common dental problem in pets. It occurs when plaque and bacteria build up on the teeth and gums, leading to inflammation and infection. If left untreated, gum disease can progress to tooth loss, bone damage, and other systemic health issues.
- Tooth decay: Pets can get cavities from poor dental hygiene, just like humans, which can result in pain and discomfort.
- Bad breath: Foul-smelling breath is a common sign of poor dental health in pets. It is often caused by the accumulation of bacteria in the mouth due to plaque and tartar buildup. “Doggy breath” is not normal for a pet with a healthy mouth; in fact, it can be an early warning sign of periodontal disease.
- Systemic health issues: Poor pet dental health can also lead to systemic health issues. The bacteria from the mouth can enter the bloodstream and affect other organs, leading to conditions such as heart disease, kidney disease and liver disease.
5 Essential Tips to Maintain Pet Dental Health
When dogs and cats lived in the wild, catching and eating prey gave an animal’s teeth enough cleaning. Unfortunately, modern pet food isn’t as effective at this.
Check out these helpful ways to ensure your pet’s dental health:
- Get regular dental check-ups: Just like humans, pets need regular dental cleaning. Most veterinarians recommend pet owners take pets for a dental check-up at least once a year. This dental procedure typically requires general anesthesia so the vet can do a thorough cleaning. Regular dental check-ups can help identify any dental issues early on and prevent them from worsening.
- Brush your pet’s teeth: Brushing your dog or cat’s teeth regularly is one of the most effective ways to maintain proper dental hygiene. Use a toothbrush designed specifically for pets. Start by gently introducing your pet to the toothbrush and gradually increase the duration and frequency of brushing. Brush your pet’s teeth at least 2-3 times a week, but preferably every day, to help prevent plaque and tartar buildup. Only use veterinary toothpaste, never human toothpaste, which is harmful to pets.
- Buy dental chews and toys: Dental chews and toys can help promote good dental health in pets. They can help remove plaque, massage the gums, and freshen your pet’s breath. Look for dental chews and toys that are specifically designed for your pet’s size and breed. Using toys or chews that are too small can be a choking hazard.
- Feed a balanced diet: Diet plays a key role in maintaining proper dental hygiene in pets. Feed your pet a balanced diet that is rich in essential nutrients to promote healthy teeth and gums. Avoid feeding your pet sugary or sticky treats that can contribute to plaque buildup.
- Use water additives and dental rinses: Water additives and dental rinses can help maintain proper dental hygiene in pets.
Natural Remedies for Oral Hygiene in Pets
There are natural remedies to help keep pet mouths healthy and clean. Here are two of our favorites:
Gumz-n-Teeth™ is a natural herbal supplement for healthy teeth, gums and bones. It also provides overall oral health and immune system support in cats and dogs.
Oral-Assist™ Oral Spray is a homeopathic medicine to support oral and dental health in dogs and cats. It is a virtually tasteless formula that addresses the underlying causes of pet dental health problems. Oral-Assist™ contains ingredients to soothe inflammation and reduce infection in pets with toothache, mouth ulcers and abscesses.
- Pets need regular dental care.
- Brush your pet’s teeth daily and get a professional cleaning from your veterinarian yearly.
- Give your pet’s oral health further support with herbal supplements and homeopathic medicines designed specifically for them.
- Diener, M. “Dog Dental Care: 6 Ways to Keep a Dog’s Mouth Clean.” PetMD. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://www.petmd.com/dog/general-health/dog-dental-care-6-ways-keep-dogs-mouth-clean
- “Pet Dental Health: Fact or Fiction?” Tufts University, Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://vet.tufts.edu/news-events/news/pet-dental-health-fact-or-fiction
- Finlay, K. “Keep Your Dog’s Teeth Clean with Five Tips.” American Kennel Club. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://www.akc.org/expert-advice/health/keep-dog-teeth-clean/
- “10 Facts You Need to Know to Protect Your Pet’s Oral (and Overall!) Health.” American Animal Hospital Association. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://www.aaha.org/your-pet/pet-owner-education/aaha-guidelines-for-pet-owners/dental-care/
- “Pet Dental Care.” American Veterinary Medicine Assocation. Accessed April 25, 2023. https://www.avma.org/resources-tools/pet-owners/petcare/pet-dental-care