Great Tips for Brushing Your Pets Teeth

Veterinarian Fox Chapel | Great Tips for Brushing Your Pets Teeth

Just like us humans, pets like having a clean mouth says Veterinarian Fox Chapel owner, Dr. Richard Linkenheimer. While many pet owners believe that all they have to do for their pets to have clean teeth is to give them crunchy treats and chew toys, good oral hygiene is a bit more complex than that. By learning a few easy tips, your pet can enjoy clean teeth, and you can enjoy their fresh breath!

Veterinarians want pet owners to know is why it’s important for their furry family member to have clean teeth. Dr. Linkenheimer, the owner of the veterinarian Fox Chapel clinic, River Valley Veterinarian Hospital says without a good oral hygiene routine, your cat or dog can develop tartar build up. This not only makes their breath bad, but it causes gingivitis, periodontal disease and cavities!

Dental Disease in Cats And Dogs Is Serious

In fact, without any oral care, animals will typically start to see the effects of dental disease by three years of age. And when left untreated, gingivitis and periodontal disease do more than effect your pet’s mouth. However, the periodontal disease does cause pain, as the gums become inflamed, and the disease affects the pet’s alveolar bone, the teeth start to become loose and fall out.

In addition to losing teeth, poor oral hygiene and periodontal disease in pets is linked to heart disease and diabetes, says Dr. Linkenheimer. Which gives pet owners more reasons to care for the health of their pet’s mouth, teeth and gums. The veterinarians and technicians at veterinarian Fox Chapel clinic has some great recommendations to help your pets have a clean, healthy mouth.

Food Influences Oral Hygiene

It all starts with food, according to Dr. Linkenheimer. Many pet owners consider the benefits of a wet or raw food diet, but oral hygiene doesn’t often factor into their decision despite diet having a huge impact on your pet’s oral hygiene. As the pets swallow, not chew their raw food, it coats their teeth, leaving them susceptible to developing cavities, tartar buildup, and gingivitis, according to veterinarian Fox Chapel. Their recommendation is that unless the pet has a specific need, they eat kibble.

Since kibble needs to be chewed, the chewing action combined with crunchy kibble scrapes tartar build up off pets teeth. Before changing your pet’s diet for any reason, consult with River Valley Veterinary Hospital, they will look at your pet’s health and lifestyle to make the best decision for their health. They may even recommend supplementing their diet with plain yogurt. Fed in between meals, on a lick mat can help eliminate the bacteria from your pet’s mouth, because of the probiotics. Just be sure to use plain yogurt, with no sweeteners or flavours.

Veterinarian Fox Chapel | Pet Toothbrushing Tips

However, nothing truly replaces the trusty toothbrush and toothpaste. But before you start in on fluffy’s teeth, make sure you find out how to do it safely, and in a way your pet will tolerate, says veterinarian Fox Chapel. Human toothpaste is actually toxic to cats and dogs, due to the artificial sweetener ingredient: Xylitol. There are many pet safe brands out there, and they come in flavours your cat or dog will love, like banana peanut butter, liver pate, or chicken and gravy. Look for products recommended by the Veterinary Oral Health Council.

For the toothbrush, there are kinds made for the pet’s mouth in mind, often with a curved handle to reach the back teeth, but you can use any human toothbrush you want. Be mindful to get soft bristles to not hurt your pets delicate gums. Introduce the toothbrush gradually, starting with using it during play time, and get them used to having a brush in their mouth. Next, get them used to having your finger with toothpaste in their mouth. They will likely enjoy this, says Dr. Linkenheimer of veterinarian Fox Chapel clinic River Valley Veterinary Hospital.

Brushing Your Pets Teeth Takes Patience

When you are ready to start brushing, go slowly. Ensure you and your pet are in a good mood. Start with a few teeth, and gives lots of praise. As their tolerance grows, increase how many teeth you brush. In most cases, if they get affection and praise, it will become easier, and it can be a bonding activity for you both. Keep at it, and continue to reward them for their good behavior, says veterinarian Fox Chapel clinic.

Finally, it’s important to know what pet owners can do to ensure the best oral health for their pets outside of food and brushing routines. The treats you give your pets can make a difference. Look for treats that are crunchy, and encourage pets to chew, but are not too hard, which can damage teeth. This helps clean off their teeth in between brushing, but keep in mind that this is not a replacement for brushing, says Dr. Linkenheimer. Also be wary of chew treats that can have pieces fall off that can be a choking hazard, like rawhide.

Beyond Brushing

There are dental chewing toys that encourage the pet to chew, which cleans their teeth. While it cleans teeth, it doesn’t replace brushing. Just ensure the devices aren’t too hard, which can damage pets’ teeth. Look for materials like hard rubber or soft silicone. You don’t want bits to be able to bitten off, and swallowed or inhaled. In addition to chews, dental wipes are a great tool, and while not a replacement for brushing, says Linkenheimer, they work if you are tired, or for when you’re travelling.

Finally, water additives have been clinically shown to reduce tartar and plaque, according to veterinarian Fox Chapel. They also help keep your pet’s breath fresh, however, not all water additives are created equally, to find out which brands are preferred by veterinarians, make an appointment at River Valley Veterinary Hospital.

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