Oral hygiene equally important for pets as it is for people
Charlie the chihuahua gets his teeth brushed Monday by his owner, Lisa San-Miguel. Taking care of a petAca,!a,,cs teeth is just as important to its health as brushing is for a person.

Dental hygiene is as important for dogs and cats as it is for humans. Plaque forms on dogs and cat's teeth the same way it forms on our teeth after we eat.

With time, this plaque builds until it becomes hardened, forming a substance called tartar.

As tartar builds up, it can get into the gums and eventually cause infections and gingivitis. This can lead to serious gum disease that will shorten the life of your pet. Individuals who have had sore, bleeding gums or have gone through painful surgery know how important it is to have good dental hygiene.

Just as people regularly care for their own teeth, it is time to start caring for your pet's teeth if one hasn't. Sore gums and infections from tartar buildup too often go unnoticed. But dogs and cats know something is wrong when a foul odor and decayed taste is always present in their mouth.

Although it should be standard, veterinarians on occasion fail to make a thorough investigation of the oral cavity during annual exams. It should be a priority at every check up to lift a pet's lips and check way back where the molars hide.

Looking under the tongue, too, might reveal such things as infections, growths or foreign material. At home, pet owners should get someone to assist if needed and open the dog or cat's mouth and look back toward the base of the tongue, followed by moving the tongue laterally to get a peek at the inside of the lower teeth, gums and to also check for malodor from the mouth.

Finally, owners should gently pull the corner of the mouth back on each side to visualize the outer gums and teeth. Visible blood, red and sore gums, brown tartar buildup or pus accumulation are all red flags or problems. A crust of dark material butting up against the gums is a positive sign of tartar buildup and concurrent infection.

If a pet owner sees any of these red flags, they should call the veterinarian for an exam right away because the pet may need a thorough dentistry. A few teeth may even need to be extracted. Thankfully, brushing a dog's and cat's teeth is not this time intensive. Vets recommend pet owners should brush their pet's teeth about twice a week, something most everyone can handle, to prevent tooth decay and gum disease.

When brushing a pet's teeth, don't rush to your bathroom to get your toothpaste. There is toothpaste especially formulated for animals, which can be found at your local pet supply store. Don't try to use human toothpaste on dogs and cats as the minty taste will not be pleasant for them like it is for us. Your pet will likely run from you every time you try to brush his teeth if you approach him with human toothpaste. It is important to get a toothpaste specifically designed for pets so it meets their needs and their taste buds.

Prevention of oral hygiene problems in dogs and cats can and should be done to strengthen the gums and eliminate tartar and bacterial buildup. Pet owners must be dedicated to routine oral hygiene care. Tooth brushing kits for dogs and cats really make a healthy difference if used even twice a week.

There are even chew treats impregnated with bacteria inhibiting fluoride chew treats. All these oral hygiene enhancing products have a beneficial impact. Be sure to get suggestions from a veterinarian about preventing oral hygiene problems in dogs or cats or consult with a pet store customer service representative to gain an insight into the aide array of oral hygiene products that enhance the health of our pets.

Good oral hygiene in pets is an important aspect of optimal pet health care. If you are not able to give your dog or cat a pretty good oral cavity inspection, do set an appointment with your veterinarian for a dental evaluation.

To sum up these are the right steps to follow in order to give our pet besides our love, a well-deserved oral health:

Aca,!Ac Brush your pet's teeth daily with an electric toothbrush.

Aca,!Ac Use pet-appropriate toothpaste without fluoride.

Aca,!Ac Replace the head every three months.

Aca,!Ac Floss and tongue scrape if you can

Aca,!Ac No refined carbs, wheat products, sweet treats or human junk food.

Aca,!Ac For dogs, use dry dog kibble only.

Aca,!Ac Sanitize your pet's toothbrush as you would your own And don't confuse your pet's toothbrush with your own - I'm more worried about your pet.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16