Taking care of our own teeth comes as second nature to most of us, but when was the last time that you considered how healthy your pet’s teeth are? Many pet owners are surprised to discover that our pet’s oral health is just as important as our own, and if we neglect to give it the right care and attention, it could have negative consequences for the health and happiness of our furry friends.
There are many reasons why it’s important to take proper care of your pet’s teeth. First, your pet relies on their teeth just like you do yours. Not only do they use them to bite and chew their food, but seeing as they only have paws, they also use their teeth as tools. They use them to grasp objects, carry things and play games. They may even use them in defense if they feel threatened or are attacked.
Preventing your pet from suffering unnecessary pain and other debilitating symptoms is another reason why it’s important to look after their teeth. Most of us know how painful toothache is and would never want our animals to go through the same feeling. Dental problems can have your pet spending days, weeks, or months suffering from pain or going through unpleasant and stressful treatment – which can be expensive, too.
Many people are also surprised to discover that dental problems can also cause issues for your pet’s general health and wellbeing. This is because poor pet dental health nearly always results in periodontal disease. Also known as gum disease or periodontitis, periodontal disease is an inflammatory condition that occurs when plaque that builds on the teeth spreads onto the gum tissue, causing irritation and infection.
If left without treatment, periodontal disease can cause pain, abscesses, bleeding, a foul taste in the mouth, halitosis (very bad breath), tooth loss, and bone deterioration. Studies have also shown a link between advanced periodontal disease and general health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, and even some cancers. Around 1 in 3 animals will develop periodontal disease before their 3rd birthday, but this can be prevented with proper oral hygiene.
Fortunately, there are plenty of steps that you can take to support your pet’s oral health and preserve the condition of their teeth for the long-term. These include, but aren’t limited to the following:
Start a regular oral hygiene routine by brushing your pet’s teeth as often as possible – daily is ideal. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush to prevent damage to the enamel or gum, and pay extra attention to cleaning the outer edges of your pet’s teeth since they are easier for your pet to tolerate
Always use a veterinary toothpaste, never a human version, since these can be toxic to animals and could make your pet sick
Give your pet dental chews as treats. These are specially designed, containing ingredients that are proven to be beneficial to your pet’s teeth. Chewing them also replicates the abrasive action of teeth brushing that helps to remove plaque from your pet’s teeth and gums before it can cause problems
Offer your pet plenty of water to drink. Water helps to rinse away bacteria and food debris, and drinking regularly will help to remove it before it can cause plaque and damage your pet’s teeth
Take your pet to see your veterinarian regularly. They will be able to check the health and condition of their teeth as well as perform a professional cleaning ( under general anesthetic) which removes tartar – hardened plaque that can’t be removed using a toothbrush