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Your Top Pet Dental Health Questions Answered

Why Dental Health Matters

You’ve always been told to brush your teeth twice a day, but what about your pet’s teeth? Just like us, pets need clean teeth in order to live a healthy lifestyle. February is Dental Health Awareness Month, and because practicing a strong dental health schedule can end up adding years to your pet’s life, we want to make sure all your questions are answered.

What is dental disease?

Dental disease is when plaque, tartar and bacteria build up on your pet’s teeth and become trapped under the gumline. The longer the bacteria stays trapped, the more likely it is to become absorbed by the animal’s bloodstream and can cause major organ damage. 

What are the signs of poor dental health in pets?

Understanding the first signs of dental disease can be a lifesaving step to the long term health of your furry friend. Look out for:

  • Bad breath
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Plaque buildup that is yellow or brown
  • Difficulty eating
  • Pawing at the mouth

How often should I brush my pet’s teeth?

In order to best prevent dental disease, we recommend brushing your pet’s teeth once daily and taking them to a vet for a professional cleaning once a year. 

Why does a pet sometimes need to go under anesthesia for a dental cleaning?

Dental cleaning is a stressful experience for most pets, and in order for the process to go smoothly, anesthesia is usually needed. Anesthesia is helpful for:

  • The safety of both the pet and the vet
  • Less stress for the pet
  • Ability to perform an in-depth cleaning on the teeth’s surface and below the gumline
  • Taking X-rays to assess damage
  • Reduced pain for the pet

Is it necessary to brush my cat’s teeth?

Yes, cats are at risk to dental disease as much as dogs. To make the process of brushing as easy as possible, start brushing their teeth as a kitten so they are accustomed to the task.

What is the best way to brush my dog’s teeth?

If introduced well, many dogs love having their teeth brushed! Our team put together a video to walk you through how to brush their teeth. Watch it here!

What is the best way to brush my cat’s teeth?

Your cat’s teeth are smaller than most dogs’, and because of this, it’s important to be very gentle when brushing. Begin by easily pushing your cat’s lip up and slowly introducing the toothbrush. Begin brushing by using circular motions close to the gumline. Don’t forget to give them praise and positive reinforcement.

Are dog dental chews as effective as brushing?

Dental chews do help reduce plaque, tartar and improve bad breath. However, they should never be used in replacement of brushing your pet’s teeth. Brushing removes bacteria much more efficiently and is crucial for your pet’s dental care regimen. We do, however, think chews are a strong addition to help prevent dental disease. We recommend the following chews for your pet.

When does dental disease begin in dogs?

Most dogs have dental disease by the time they are 3-years old due to the quick process of building up plaque and bacteria. Because of this, establishing a consistent dental care plan is crucial when they are a puppy through adulthood. If you brush your dog’s teeth multiple times a week, you have a much higher chance of avoiding dental disease.

What should I brush my pet’s teeth with?

Never brush your pet’s teeth with toothpaste made for people as the ingredients can be harmful to them. Instead, use a pet toothpaste – there are many different kinds that are flavored to make the process enjoyable for your pet. For the tool, consider purchasing a dog toothbrush, a finger toothbrush or a child’s toothbrush. 

Schedule A Dental Cleaning Today

If you live in the Raleigh, NC area and would like to schedule a professional dental cleaning for your pet or want to ask us any questions about dental health, contact Care First Animal Hospital today! 

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