5 Easy Dental Care Tips

Posted on by Christopher Bern, DVM

Proper dental care is extremely important for our pets. Dental calculus leads to tartar and gingivitis, which can in turn lead to serious infection and disease. Advanced periodontal disease can be painful, result in loose teeth, and can spread bacteria through the body causing infections in the liver, heart, and kidneys. Many pet owners aren’t sure how to take care of their pet’s teeth, or are intimidated by how difficult it seems. Here are a few simple things that you can do to improve your dog or cat’s dental health.

  1. Feed Dry Food. Canned food stays in contact with the teeth longer than dry and can get deeper into the crevices in and between teeth. Dry food is better for the teeth, but there are some health conditions where pets need canned food, so if your vet has recommended this be sure to talk to them before switching diets.
  2. Give Dental Chew Treats. There are many types of dental chews on the market, and many of them are easy to give and effective. Good chew treats help rub off early dental calculus as the pet is chewing, acting similar to a tooth brush. Some of them don’t live up to the claims, so be sure to talk to your vet about which ones are recommended.
  3. Avoid Bones. While bones can help keep the teeth clean of tartar, you also have a risk of breaking teeth on these hard objects. Broken teeth can be painful and lead to infection, which requires removing the tooth. Dental specialists do not recommend bones because of the risk of tooth damage. There are far better ways to keep teeth clean without the risk of damage.
  4. Brush Teeth. The gold standard of dental care is brushing your pet’s teeth. To be effective this must be done a minimum of 3-5 days per week. Some pets will not tolerate a full tooth brush, so in these cases try a brush that slides over your finger. Use only toothpaste for pets as they are better tasting and safe to swallow. Once dental tartar accumulates brushing will not remove it and you have to have the teeth professionally cleaned.
  5. See Your Vet. Your veterinarian can see signs of dental disease often earlier than you can and will be able to advise you on the best care. This may be better at-home efforts or may include a dental cleaning at the veterinary office. These visits should happen twice per year because of how rapid things can change in our pets. Catching and treating dental disease early can prevent painful and costly procedures later.

With just a few simple things, you can improve your pet’s dental health, preventing painful disease and helping them live a longer life!

About Christopher Bern, DVM

Dr. Bern has been with the practice since 1999 and currently works as the Chief of Staff for the Woodstock, GA hospital. View all posts by Christopher Bern, DVM →

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