Since February is Veterinary Dental Month, I thought we could focus on dental issues for this blog.
There are three main areas of dental care that we can discuss: Prevention, Dealing with Current Disease, and Maintenance.
Prevention is always much easier when starting with a puppy or kitten. They are so more relaxed and open to training and, if we think of dental care as much a part of training as housebreaking, bathing, grooming, and obedience commands are, we are way ahead of the game. When we adopt older animals, we just have to try a little harder and use our imagination a little more. Developing routines while getting to know our new pal is crucial to both them feeling safe in their new environment and to our own personal sanity. That being said, older cats may not be as open to having their teeth brushed.
Picking the appropriate products is a good place to start. Commercial products run the gamut of different flavored toothpastes, types of toothbrushes, a variety of oral rinses, and water additives. NEVER use human toothpaste as fluoride is toxic to pets so their paste has to be something that they can swallow (no rinsing & spitting here). Enzymatic toothpaste is the best choice because the enzymes continue to work around the parts of the teeth you may not have reached. Larger pet toothbrushes are great for large dogs, but cats and small dogs respond better to the finger toothbrush (so named because it fits over your finger and allows you more control over where you are brushing and fits better in their little mouths).
Start by letting your pet taste the toothpaste you have chosen to see if they even like the taste of it. Once you’ve found the flavor they like, then we are on our way. Again, think of it like any other training process – small steps lead to great success! Next, use your finger and rub a little of the toothpaste on a small area of the teeth and gums, rewarding the pet with lots of praise. Always stop while you are ahead and on a good note and repeat the following day going a little farther, increasing the time and area covered each day. Doing this at the same time every day, when you are relaxed, also helps to develop it as a routine. The goal should be to brush your pet’s teeth 5 to 7 days per week.
If you have any questions, please call our office or your veterinarian.
Remember, every day is a gift! Lynelle