A Guide to Routine Dental Care for Dogs and Cats

by Dave

Photo courtesy of Soggydan

Dental health is often overlooked by pet owners, with as many as two-thirds failing to provide adequate dental care for their pets, according to the American Animal Hospital Association. This unfortunate statistic helps explain why an estimated 70 percent of cats and 80 percent of dogs develop some degree of gum disease before their third birthday. To prevent gum disease and other problems, it’s a good idea to start your pet on a comprehensive dental care program early in life.

Periodontal Disease and Other Risks:

Cats and dogs are at risk for cavities, bad breath, gum disease, and other problems just like their human caretakers. Some conditions, such as cavities, are less common in cats and dogs, while broken teeth and some other problems occur more frequently in animals than in humans. Periodontal disease, which is the most common dental problem in cats and dogs, is a potentially serious problem that occurs when bacteria present in plaque and tarter causes inflammation and infection of the gums. This inflammation and infection can lead to bleeding and receding gums, bad breath, and tooth loss if not treated promptly. Periodontal disease can also negatively affect your pet’s overall health, resulting in heart, kidney, and lung disease.

Preventing dental problems and associated health risks requires keeping your pet’s teeth clean and healthy through a combination of proper diet, frequent brushing, regular professional cleanings and checkups, and the use of dental chews designed to clean teeth between brushings. Introduce home and professional dental care at an early age to ensure acceptance and maximum protection.

Home Dental Care for Pets:

A proper, balanced diet is essential to healthy teeth and gums. Ensure your pet obtains sufficient vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients from dietary sources. Try to avoid sticky and hard foods, as these contribute to plaque buildup and may damage your pet’s teeth. Stay away from sugary foods and purchase pet food fortified with ingredients designed to boost dental health. Drinking water additives can also be beneficial.

Introduce brushing when your cat or dog is still very young. Begin by rubbing your pet’s teeth and gums with a finger wrapped in clean gauze, and then switch to a toothbrush designed for use in animals. Brushing should be a calm, bonding experience. If your pet resists, do not abandon brushing; temporarily reduce the frequency of brushings and consult with your veterinarian for advice. In between brushings, keep your dog or cat’s teeth clean with dental chews, such as CET Dental Chews. These chews contain a natural antiseptic and have an abrasive texture that scrapes food and other debris from your pet’s teeth during chewing to prevent plaque buildup and freshen breath.

Professional Dental Care for Pets:

It is essential to take your cat or dog in regularly for routine examinations and cleanings. Your veterinarian can remove hardened tartar, check your pet’s teeth and mouth for signs of infection, tumors, and other problems, and work with you to establish a comprehensive dental care program at home. Most veterinarians prefer annual checkups and cleanings, but the time between appointments depends on your animal’s specific needs, your preferences, and the effectiveness of your home program.

While yearly checkups are important, it is your responsibility as a pet owner to take care of your pet’s teeth and protect his health between vet appointments. Pets live longer, healthier, and happier lives with proper dental care.

Article provided by VetDepot.com, a trusted discount retailer of pet medications and supplies.

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