It’s February, which means it is time to celebrate National Pet Dental Health Month! Taking care of your pet’s teeth is just as important as taking care of your own teeth. Studies have shown that only about 2% of dog owners brush their dog’s teeth everyday. You wouldn’t only brush your teeth every once in a while, so why should you treat your pet’s teeth any differently from your own?
In most cases, your pet will show no signs of being in pain when they have dental issues. It’s very common to not notice any problems until an animal’s dental issues are in advanced stages. Some signs to look out for in advanced cases include blood on a chew toy, bleeding or red gums, loose teeth, bad breath, ropey or bloody saliva, bumps in the mouth, head shyness (meaning your pet won’t want you to touch their head), chewing on one side of the mouth, difficulty picking up food, nasal discharge and excessive sneezing (this could be due to gum disease in the upper canines, which often causes bone loss in the oral and nasal cavity). It is also important to keep an eye out for broken, discolored, loose or rotated teeth. People will usually discount those things as just being old age, but all too often they’re actually signs of teeth that have gone bad. Bad teeth can mean things such as gum disease (which in advanced cases can harm an animal’s organs, such as the heart and kidneys), periodontist, and gingivitis.
What can I do to take care of my pet’s dental health?
For starters, you can take your pet to a veterinarian for an annual oral examination. A vet will put your pet under general anesthesia in order to do a full exam, X-ray and cleaning. Because your pet is under general anesthesia, the vet is able to do a very thorough cleaning, which wouldn’t be possible if the animal weren’t put under. In addition to an annual exam, you can also brush your pet’s teeth everyday, as well as giving them daily chew time. All you need to brush your pet’s teeth is pet toothpaste, a pet toothbrush, and a bit of patience. It may seem like a hassle, but in the long run you’re saving your furry friend from a lot of pain. For daily chew time, you just need to provide your dog with a safe chew toy. It is recommended to give them things like a Kong, a Bully Stick, or CET Dental Chews. You should steer clear of animal bones of any kind, cow or pig hooves, rawhide, nylon bones, and even fuzzy tennis balls. Another thing you can do to protect your pet’s teeth is to talk to a vet about a “dental diet”, as there are some foods with additives to help prevent plaque from hardening.
How do I brush my pet’s teeth?
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