Good dental hygiene is not just for humans, it’s important for our pets too. In fact, our pet’s mouth is the gateway to their body and good dental hygiene is vital for their overall physical wellbeing.
Pets can easily hide symptoms of infections and discomfort when it comes to gums and teeth, so as pet parents we must ensure that we are taking a proactive approach to our pet’s dental health.
Dr. Sarah Machell, Medical Director for Vetster, a digital platform that connects licensed vets with pet owners virtually with 24/7 online appointments, has shared her top tips to ensure your pet’s dental health is in good shape.
1. Brush your pets’ teeth
Just like humans, our pets also need to brush their teeth daily – failing to do so can create a build-up of plaque, which can lead to gum disease, decayed teeth, and bad breath. Create a routine when it comes to brushing, as it’s important for your pet to feel relaxed. Try touching your pets’ teeth and gums without a toothbrush first, then when your pet seems ready, introduce them to a dog or cat toothbrush. Be sure to use toothpaste designed for pets. Pets tend lick throughout the brushing process and end up consuming a lot of toothpaste, so – unlike human products – pet-friendly toothpastes are safe to swallow. Introduce the toothpaste slowly – maybe let them lick if off your finger or put some on their food to try before putting it on a toothbrush. When your pet is ready, start brushing! Focus on the easy-to-reach surfaces in front and inside the cheeks. This is where most tartar builds up. Don’t forget to praise your furry friend after brush time, pets aren’t used to getting their teeth brushed so it’s helpful to make their experience a good one.
2. Encourage safe chew toys
There are several benefits to chew toys – from encouraging mental stimulation, relieving stress, and best of all, promoting good dental health. It’s not only dogs who love chewing, your cat will enjoy a chew toy too. It’s important to choose a safe chew toy for your pet, like one that hasn’t got any harmful chemicals, as chew toys that have chemicals or have been badly made can cause more dental damage for your pet’s dental health. Some types of chews actually have scientific evidence showing they improve dental health – schedule an online virtual care appointment to learn more about what might be best for your pet.
3. Try a daily dental chew/treat
Some types of dental chew/treats can decrease plaque and tartar in pets’ teeth, but don’t be fooled. Not all products claiming to improve dental health actually work, but some can help remove old food and bacteria which cause bad breath for your pets. They can be given daily, to help with good dental hygiene whilst cleaning your pets’ teeth and gums.
4. Get their teeth professionally cleaned
Even though daily brushing, chews, and treats can help, they’re not a replacement for professional dental care. Most pets need to have their teeth cleaned on a regular basis, especially as they get older. Ignoring dental disease has a significant impact on your pet’s health and decreases their life expectancy, so make a healthy mouth a priority. During a virtual care appointment, your Vetster vet can address your concerns about your pet’s dental health. In the meantime, make your pet’s dental healthcare routine a fun bonding experience for both of you. After all, that’s the best way to go as long as possible between visits to your vet’s dental chair.