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Dental Home Care
Periodontal disease is common in our furry pet companions. This consists of the build up of tartar and bacteria along the gumline and can have serious consequences on pet health. Often times, a professional dental cleaning, sometimes with extractions, is needed to remove the infection in your pets’ mouth.
However, there are a variety of strategies to use at home to improve your pets’ oral health. These strategies are often best used once a professional cleaning has been performed or before periodontal disease has had a chance to set in. Employing these tools does not mean a professional cleaning will never be needed, but reduces the frequency and extent of these treatments.
Treats: There are a variety of dental treats, such as Greenies®, Virbac CET ® Chews, and or Oravet Chews available that are designed to help reduce plaque and tartar build up. Make sure you purchase an appropriate size treat so that your pet has to chew the treat. If the pet doesn’t chew the treat, then the treat won’t work! Attempting to swallow large pieces can result in choking.
Toys: There are also a variety of toys designed to help abrade build up on the teeth and prevent it from forming. These toys are often helpful with dogs that are motivated chewers, but if the dog does not regularly chew the effect if reduced. On the other hand, supervision should be used to prevent accidental swallowing of toys. Some toys and bones are too hard on a dog’s teeth and may result in chips or fractures, which may necessitate extraction of the damaged tooth.
Diet: There are a variety of diets available through your veterinarian or over the counter that are formulated to help prevent and treat dental disease. Feel free to discuss a diet change for your pet with your veterinarian.
Brushing ***The Gold Standard***: Just like in humans, brushing your dogs’ or cats’ teeth is the gold standard in maintaining oral hygiene and health. Using a soft bristle toothbrush is preferred. Use a flavored pet toothpaste (not human toothpaste). If you slowly introduce brushing, most pets will easily accept and even enjoy this activity on a daily basis. The key is to start slowly and don’t push your animal past its comfort zone. Start by letting your animal taste the toothpaste. Then brush one or two teeth and reward your pet generously afterwards (perhaps with a dental treat). Slowly increase the number of teeth you can brush in one sitting until you can brush the entire mouth, even the inside of the teeth if possible. If your pet becomes uncomfortable or scared, go back to an early step he or she was comfortable with before trying again. Ideally, your pets’ teeth would be brushed daily. There are several websites and online video demonstrations available. Remember, the key is to make it a positive experience!
Besides offering anesthetic dental care to our patients we also partner up with Animal Dental Care to provide a preventative dental care and assessment procedure option to our patients. This is a non-anesthetic dental procedure that is available if the Dr. feels this is an option for your pet based on dental disease and cooperation of your pet. This is not an option if your pet has any loose teeth or severe dental disease. If your pet is not current on an exam through our clinic within three months of the dental we require an exam before the dental procedure, please give us a call to schedule an appointment 707-994-9100.