Archive For February, 2016

National Pet Dental Month

Wednesday, February 17th, 2016

Your pet’s mouth offers a glimpse of his or her overall health. For example, red, swollen gums can indicate gingivitis or worse, gum disease. Gingivitis is a painful condition with those swollen gums. But when it progresses to gum disease it leads to lost teeth and even the spread of bacteria throughout the body.

It starts with a plaque buildup and can progress to gum disease if left unchecked. If your pet has gum disease, it means the teeth have started to pull away slightly from the gums leaving areas where bacteria can form. From there, it can spread throughout your pet’s body weakening the immune system and leaving your pet susceptible to other illnesses or health problems.

You Can Protect Your Pet’s Teeth

That’s why it’s so important to make sure your pet has regular (professional) teeth cleanings and between these in depth cleanings, you want to brush them at home. But it won’t work if you simply go out, call Lucy over, ask her to open wide and submit to your teeth brushing. If you’ve tried this tactic you know it doesn’t work.

Start small. Have patience and be prepared. You can start by gathering your supplies and keeping them nearby where you plan to make the brushing a regular habit.

Dog Tooth Brushing Supplies
Patience, Rome wasn’t built in a day and if you’ve never brushed your dog’s teeth before, he’s not likely to sit still for it now. You’ll work up to it.

  • Soft cloth – to get your pet used to having something in his mouth that you control.
  • Doggie toothpaste – Your dog WILL swallow it and the people kind can upset their tummies. Plus, beef flavored toothpaste may be an easier “sell” than your tube of minty fresh.
  • Doggie Toothbrush – After all, their mouths are shaped differently than ours.

The Process
Wait until your dog is nice and relaxed. Go for a long run or walk with your pet to tire them out.

Step 1: Your goal today is simply to let him put your finger on his teeth and move them back and forth. You can wrap your finger in the cloth and insert your finger along one side or the other. If your dog fights you, back up and put a little of the toothpaste on the cloth and try again. If that doesn’t work, you might try a little peanut butter. Your goal is to get your dog to let you run your finger over his or her teeth. Depending on your dog, this can take a couple of attempts or many attempts.

Step 2: Once you’ve worked up to “brushing” with your cloth wrapped finger and your dog is accepting of this, you can then introduce the brush. The process is the same for cats but you may need more patience.

If it’s been awhile since your pet’s teeth were professionally cleaned, you’ll want to make an appointment with your vet for a thorough cleaning. This is especially true if you see evidence of disease like those red, swollen gums we mentioned earlier or any of the teeth are black or seriously discolored. Your vet can often catch problems before they turn more serious.