Periodontal disease, also known as gum disease, affects more than 80% of pet cats and dogs. Fortunately, the most common forms of these diseases are largely preventable or treatable with appropriate preventive dental care and monitoring. In honor of Pet Dental Health month here are 4 tips to keep your four-legged companions happy and healthy.
Fresh breath for pets
Cats and dogs don’t always have fresh-smelling breath. But taking a quick whiff of your pet’s breath can help you tell if its teeth or gums are healthy. If your pet’s breath is really offensive, it could be a dental or gastrointestinal issue. Make an appointment for your pet to see your veterinarian.
About once a week take a look at your pet’s gums and teeth. Like your mouth, your pet should have pink gums and clean teeth. If gums are white or red, swollen, or have tartar, then you should ask if your vet recommends a professional cleaning.
Keeping your pet’s teeth clean
Do you brush your pet’s teeth? Just like you, your pet needs to have regular teeth cleanings. Ideally every day, but realistically – brushing your pet’s teeth several times a week is a good way to keep their teeth and gums healthy. Don’t use a toothbrush like yours, and don’t use your toothpaste on your pet. Human toothpaste is designed to be rinsed from our mouths, not swallowed – so it is NOT SAFE for your pet. Your vet can suggest the correct toothbrush and toothpaste for your pet, or you can check out Agway of Cape Cod’s full selection of pet dental supplies.
Your pets might not enjoy having their teeth brushed. You can help your pet adjust to a tooth brushing routine by gently massaging their teeth and gums with your finger or using your finger wrapped with gauze. Once your pet is comfortable with your finger or gauze cleaning, you can try a silicone finger brush or a special pet toothbrush. You can also ask your veterinarian to show you how to clean your pet’s teeth.
Foods or treats to help keep your pet’s teeth and gums healthy
There are a variety of pet foods and treats labeled as “tartar control.” Many of these have a scrubbing effect on tartar and might be recommended by your veterinarian. Just don’t overdo and use too many dental supplement treats. Treats are just that–treats.
Also avoid giving your pet table scraps. Many of the foods we eat are not healthy for your pet and can build up on teeth, which can cause tartar or dental problems later.
Toys to keep your pet’s teeth clean
Both dogs and cats like to chew on things. This helps keep their teeth stay strong and clean. Gnawing on chew toys is also a stress reliever!
Gnawing and chewing helps clean food and tartar buildup from your pet’s teeth. It also massages their gums. Your veterinarian can recommend good chew toys or types of bones for your pet to gnaw and chew on. You can also check out our selection of chew toys here.