This Companion Animal Care article is being presented to help people seeking reliable resources, tips, and information for companion animals.
From The National Humane Education
Ah February. Itís the month of boxed chocolates, mail order flowers, and
becoming more aware of your petís dental hygiene. February is Pet Dental
Health Month; and while getting your car inspected may seem comparatively
more exciting, maintaining your petís dental health isnít as difficult as
you may think. Many pet owners who otherwise provide excellent care to their
pets may have never given much thought to pet dental care. Hopefully after
reading this monthís Our 2 Cents, you will agree that pet dental care isnít
nearly the hassle it might seem and that it is rewarding to you and your
As in humans, canine periodontal disease starts with gingivitis
(infection of the gums) because of plaque buildup. If the plaque isnít
removed, it hardens into tartar. If gingivitis is not treated, it may
progress into periodontitis, which may cause teeth to loosen and fall out.
These conditions may cause pain, eating problems, and severe halitosis (bad
breath) that could become a barrier to interactions with people.
Starting a dental regimen early in life is the best way to accustom your
dog to brushing. Purchase a specially made dog toothbrush and toothpaste kit
from a pet supply store or retail store. (Never use human toothpaste or
brushes.) Before brushing, invite your dog to sniff the brush and
toothpaste. Allow him or her to taste a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and
offer continuous affection and encouragement. Once the dog is familiar with
the brush, place the toothbrush against the outer side of the teeth and
brush gently in a circular motion. The first session only needs to last
about 10 seconds, followed by a dental treat. Gradually increase the
duration to a few minutes. If your dog does not have periodontal disease,
brushing two or three times a week is usually sufficient.
Even with regular brushing, dogs may require a professional dental
cleaning about once every few years, but that ultimately depends on the
individual dog. Typically, the better you care for your dogís teeth at home,
the less often your dog will require professional cleaning. The cost of
professional cleaning varies, but is generally around $250. Your dog is
usually put under general anesthesia, so the veterinarian can also use this
opportunity to do a detailed oral exam and even trim your dogís toenails
while he or she is under! Best yet, you can typically expect to take your
dog home the same day.
Pet dental care may have once seemed above and beyond the mainstream
standard of pet care. However, in addition to the well-known consequences of
poor dental hygiene, medical studies are examining the relationship between
poor dental health in humans and life-threatening health problems like heart
attack and stroke. In time, these studies may be expanded to include
companion animals. Sooner rather than later, we hope that more pet owners
will see dental hygiene for pets not just as an optional grooming practice,
but as an important part of overall wellness.
More tips for keeping your dogís breath fresh and teeth in top condition: