To help wrap up this week on responsible pet ownership, we’re also addressing another February observance – Pet Dental Health Month. Just like you and I, oral hygiene for pets should be addressed on a daily basis. In this article we’ll discuss techniques to ensure you’re caring for your pet’s dental needs properly.
As with most pets, training early usually scores the best results. It’s much harder to get a dog accustomed to daily or near daily brushing in old age than as a pup. Approach brushing the same you would any other training – take it slowly but be consistent and firm with everything you do.
Get the right supplies
Toothbrush – Brushes made specifically for pets usually come in two varieties. One is what you’d expect a toothbrush to look like – it closely resembles the kinds of brushes we use on our own teeth. The other kind is one that slips over your finger, and is better for massaging gums and sensitive, hard to reach places. Both are perfectly acceptable and come down to personal preference.
Toothpaste – Toothpaste meant for humans are strictly forbidden, as they contain fluoride and other abrasives that aren’t meant to be swallowed. Dog toothpastes are specially formulated to help prevent tartar and plaque buildup, and often come in interesting flavors like poultry. These can often turn brushing time into something fun that your dog actually looks forward to!
Chew Toys – Not only do chew toys keep your pet occupied, they’re amazing for tooth and gum health as well. As long as the object isn’t too hard, the simple act of gnawing on a toy will both strengthen gums and keep teeth clean. A quick rinse with water after every play session in both your dog’s mouth and on the toy itself washes away any potential bacteria buildup.
Seeing a professional
Just like you and I, it’s important that you schedule your dog for a vet checkup every 6-12 months. Sometimes it’s impossible to prevent certain gum and tooth diseases even with the best oral hygiene. If you suspect your dog is having dental health problems, look for a few of these early warning signs:
- Swollen or bleeding gums
- Overly excessive drooling
- Bad breathe
- Severe tartar build up along the gum line
- Strange bumps in the mouth
Although daily brushing is recommended, responsible owners can get away with brushing their pet’s teeth a few times a week. It doesn’t take much to ensure your dog is both happy and smiling!