The Importance of Your Pet’s Dental Hygiene
Keeping your pet’s teeth clean is essential to its health. Gum disease is common among pets with bad dental hygiene and is indicated by bad breath, or halitosis. This is a result of the bacterial infection of the gums, called gingiva, and supporting tissues.
What causes gum disease is plaque that leads to dental tartar when plaque hardens and adheres to tooth enamel and then erodes the gingival tissue. The indications of gum disease are redness, soreness and swelling. The gums will separate from the teeth, creating pockets where the bacteria, plaque and tartar build up. This creates more damage, tooth and bone loss and the final result is Periodontitis (bacterial infection of the mouth).
The bacteria from this deterioration can enter the bloodstream and affect major body organs like the liver, kidneys, heart and lungs. So, before a professional dental cleaning, antibiotics are administered to prevent bacterial spread through the bloodstream.
Dental treats that are treated with enzymes help reduce the formation of tartar and calculus, but are not an alternative to brushing away bacterial causing agents.
So, the bottom line is you gotta’ brush your pet’s teeth. You might be thinking, “Bath time is challenging as it is! How in the world am I going to get my pet to sit still for a tooth brushing?”
You’ll be glad to know there are 4 easy steps to this process. Just like training your pet to do anything else, there is a way to ease him/her into a routine of tooth brushing.
Step 1: Start the training by placing a little cat or dog toothpaste on your finger and let your pet lick the paste from your hand, like a treat. With cats, wrap a sterilized gauze strip around your finger, dipped into the paste, or use a rubbery feline toothbrush with paste on it. Do this several days in a row and follow it up each day with a treat reward and praise.
Step 2: Place a little of the toothpaste on your pet’s teeth (canine teeth for dogs) to get it used to having it placed against their teeth and gums. Again, do this for several days and follow it with a treat and praise.
Step 3: Introduce the toothbrush that will be used for brushing. Place some toothpaste on it and let your pet lick it off to get him/her used to the toothbrush and the texture of the process. You will, again, do this for several days and follow up with a treat and praise.
Step 4: Gently hold your pet’s lips back and brush at a 45 degree angle to the gum line. Brush the outside of the teeth using a back and forth motion while talking to him/her in a soothing voice and praising as you go along. The first time you do this, only brush a few teeth and increase the number of teeth each time you brush.
If time is minimal in your schedule, you may substitute brushing with dental pads now and then, which kill bacteria on the surface of the teeth.
Ideally, a tooth cleaning every day is optimal. However, a few times per week will do. ALWAYS follow a brushing with a treat and praise.
- Kassira McKee