Community Animal Hospital Blog

Pets Need Dental Care Too!

0 Comments Posted by CommunityAHAdmin in Healthy Pet Tips on Thursday, February 11th, 2016.

Periodontal (dental) disease is an extremely common problem in dogs and cats.  Over 80% of dogs and cats over the age of 2, will develop this problem.  Some breeds of dogs are specifically predisposed to mouth and teeth problems, like the Dachshund and Yorkshire Terrier, but any breed can be affected.  February is National Pet Dental Health Awareness Month and right now, Community Animal Hospital is offering discounts on already affordable Dental Scaling and Polishing procedures!

If your pet has already developed periodontal disease, he or she will need a dental procedure that may or may not require extractions.  To prevent this disease, at home dental care if key.  After every dental procedure perform, I discuss tips for at home dental care with the owners.  My goal is to avoid future dental procedures for their pet or at least minimize how often they are needed.


Let’s talk about how to care for your pets’ teeth at home!

 Daily Teeth Brushing
Proven be to be the single most effective way to prevent dental disease.  Tooth brushes specifically for pets work best.  I prefer the finger cap style tooth brushes.  The most important areas to brush are the outer surfaces of each tooth (towards the lips/cheeks).  Brushing the inner surfaces of the tooth (towards the tongue) is a lot more challenging, so I don’t typically stress owners to brush this area.  To effectively brush the outer surfaces, it helps to keep the dog’s/cat’s mouth closed with one hand and brush with the other.  This typically requires sliding the brush under under the cheeks to get the molars or back teeth.  Toothpastes are available as well.  Be sure to only use toothpaste made specifically for pets.  The flavored toothpaste may make it more rewarding for your pet to have their teeth brushed.  The most important part of brushing is actually bristle action on the teeth.

Dental Treats and Chews
This is the easiest method of at home dental care!  Numerous dental chews and treats are available over the counter.  We currently carry Enzadent brand chews in our clinic and have good results with them.  I also like Milk Bone Brushing Chews for dogs.  For pets that are prone to dental problems, I recommend a good quality dental chew at least twice weekly.  Cat are more challenging for this option.  They are more selective of the dental chews.  I have had more luck with Greenies brand in cats than in dogs.  A problem I see with a lot of over the counter dental chews in dogs, are that some dogs chew them for a few seconds and swallow them.  Without actively chewing for a long period of time, the chews are not as effective.  Be sure to get the appropriate sized chew for your pet.

Prescription Dental Diets
Several pet food companies have developed prescription diets specifically to prevent dental disease.  I’m most familiar with Hill’s t/d diet.  Some pets I meet have such bad dental problems, I recommend only feeding this diet.  For other situations, I think adding a few kibbles of Hill t/d to each meal is very helpful to prevent periodontal disease.

Oral Rinses
This is a great option for pets who do not tolerate having the teeth brushed (especially our feline friends)!  We typically use an antiseptic oral rinse in pets with gum or oral infections to slow bacterial growth.  If your pet needs an oral rinse, we’d be more than happy to demonstrate how to apply it to the gum line.  Don’t worry, no gargling needed!

These are the best ways to care for your pets oral health at home.  Dental treats are so easy, I think every pet should receive them.  There are so many brands available, it can be hard to choose one.  You can always call the doctors and technicians and Community Animal Hospital for advice!  Also, if a product has a seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC), the product has been approved from pet dental health specialists.  Familiarizing your pet with tooth brushing is best done at an early age, but any aged pet can learn.  Some pets tolerate it and some pets don’t.  For the pets that do not, dental health diets and oral rinses are good options, as recommended by your veterinarian.  Check out this youtube video (here) from the AVMA about pet dental health, as well as tips for tooth brushing!

Michael C. Owen, DVM Associate Veterinarian Community Animal Hospital

Michael C. Owen, DVM
Associate Veterinarian
Community Animal Hospital

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