As your furry loved one leans in to sloppily kiss your face from chin to forehead, you recoil at the odor emanating from their mouth. No more kisses for this pup, until you get to the root of that stench. Although you may have believed doggy breath is naturally smelly, it can actually be a sign of hidden periodontal problems. If left untreated, dental disease can affect not only the close relationship you have with your stinky-mouthed pal, but also can lead to oral pain, jaw bone loss, and heart disease. To prevent devastating dental disease in your best friend, and to help freshen your pet’s breath, follow these seven methods to keep your pal’s teeth healthy at home.
#1: Learn to recognize dental disease signs
By learning to recognize dental diseases signs in your pet, you can stay on top of any periodontal issues that may pop up, and get professional help from your Mill Creek Animal Hospital team at the first hint of trouble. Ideally, peek into your furry pal’s mouth daily, to check for problems. Common dental disease signs include:
- Red, inflamed, or bleeding gums
- Brown, yellow, or gray tartar accumulation on the teeth
- Cracked, worn, or broken teeth
- Foul odor
- Missing teeth
Depending on your pet’s tolerance level, you may also be able to look at the back molars, under the tongue, and at the region around the tonsils for abnormal bumps, inflammation, or bleeding. Also, keep an eye out for other dental disease indicators in your pet, such as avoiding hard food, pawing at the face, or dropping food when eating.
#2: Implement a toothbrushing regimen for your pet
Daily toothbrushing is the gold standard of at-home dental care for pets. Whether you own a cat or dog, you can teach your furry pal to enjoy the tasty reward of toothbrushing. Use a pet-safe toothpaste and a small, soft toothbrush, and start slowly, first wiping the toothpaste along your pet’s teeth with your finger, and building up to scrubbing a toothpaste-laden brush along the teeth. Don’t worry about opening your pet’s mouth to reach the tongue-side of the teeth, since their tongues often do a decent job of keeping the inner tooth surfaces clean. Always end on a positive note with a special reward, to keep your pet coming back for more toothbrushing.
For a great video tutorial on how to get your pet to accept toothbrushing, see our short youtube video.
#3: Offer dental treats and chews for your pet
Life happens, and we occasionally forget to brush our pets’ teeth. On those hectic days, toss your furry pal a dental treat or chew, to help make up for the missed toothbrushing session. While toothbrushing is the best way to prevent plaque and tartar accumulation, dental treats and chews are an excellent part of a multimodal plan for keeping your pet’s pearly whites in great shape.
#4: Switch to a prescription dental diet for an extra boost
Sometimes your pet’s teeth seem to accumulate tartar, despite your best efforts. Yorkies and dachshunds are especially prone to severe dental disease when they are young, despite proper at-home dental care. For pets who need a helping paw, consider swapping out their regular kibble for a prescription dental diet, such as Hill’s t/d, for an added teeth-cleaning boost.
#5: Choose approved dental health products for your pet
When wandering the pet store aisles, you are likely overwhelmed with all the dental products claiming to eradicate your pet’s bad breath and tartar. While some dental-care items may hold up to their claims, many use flashy packaging as a marketing gimmick, but have no real benefit. Don’t choose the most brightly colored product, and instead search for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal of approval. The VOHC is not a regulatory body, but awards dental-care products its seal of approval, if they meet certain criteria for thwarting plaque and tartar accumulation.
#6: Team up with your Mill Creek veterinarian for comprehensive dental care for your pet
No matter how vigilant you are about brushing your pet’s teeth, a toothbrush can’t reach below the gumline, or take dental X-rays to search for hidden problems. Pair up with our Mill Creek Animal Hospital dental experts to provide comprehensive periodontal care for your furry pal, to ensure they keep all their pearly white teeth healthy and shiny.
While your furry pal’s stinky breath may be unpleasant, it can be a sign of underlying dental disease that could be harming your pet’s heart. Give us a call to schedule a comprehensive oral exam, to check out your pet’s dental health.