February is Pet Dental Health Month!

Now, we realize this may sound like just a clever marketing ploy to get your pet into his or her veterinarian, but there actually is quite a bit to be gained by instituting regular dental home care for your pets, such as improved systemic health, decrease bone loss which can lead to loss of teeth, and even improved breath (important for when you get a big slobbery kiss from your pooch!).

How often do I need to brush my pet’s teeth to make a difference?
In the majority of cases, dental disease is a condition where “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” -- small preventative measures such as regular brushing can significantly slow the progression of tartar accumulation and subsequent periodontal disease. While daily brushing is by far the idea, even brushing every 72 hours will make a significant difference in the amount of tartar accumulation on your pet’s teeth. Every three days is the minimum frequency that will make a significant difference.

More importantly, HOW do I brush my pet’s teeth without losing a hand?
Obviously, your safety is first and foremost in all circumstances, but for most dogs, and even cats, teeth brushing can be a pleasant, non-stressful experience. Check out the video below for instructions on how to brush your pet’s teeth.

Can’t the groomer brush his teeth for me?
Groomers are certainly very capable of brushing your pet’s teeth, but as mentioned above, brushing needs to occur on a very regular basis to make a significant difference.

What is brushing is just not feasible?
If brushing is absolutely out of the question, there are other options to help decrease the plaque and subsequent tartar buildup in your pet’s mouth. Look for products that carry the VOHC - Veterinary Oral Health Council - seal of approval, such as CET products, Greenies, or antiplaque water additives. Most of these products need to be used on a daily basis to make an appreciable difference.

What are the consequences if I don’t brush?
Well, like people, every pet’s mouth is different. Some animals and breeds are more susceptible for dental disease than others. In some animals a neglected mouth will result with some degree of plaque build up over time, and gingivitis (or inflammation and infection of the gums). But in some animals that neglected mouth will lead to severe infectious of the mouth, abscesses, pain, bad breath, and can make it more difficult to regulate other disease processes (such as diabetes). In the more severe cases, treatment involves tooth extractions or complicated dental procedures.

Regular at-home dental care, routine complete oral health evaluations, and professional dental cleanings, when needed, are the best way to maintain your pets dental health. In the long run that routine care will reduce the need for costly procedures, reduce the risk of infections and help maintain good overall health.