Regular brushing and professional pet dental cleanings are just as important for dogs and cats as they are for their humans. Too often we overlook the need for home and professional dental care for our pets. Untreated teeth and dental infections can cause serious health risks for our pets.
Periodontal disease is the number one problem in dogs, and in cats the problem is doubly overlooked because the disease often occurs under the gum line. As in people dental disease, abscessed teeth and infection can affect other parts of the body. In dogs and cats, periodontal disease can cause heart and kidney disease.
A regular veterinary dental check up and cleaning under a short-lasting anesthetic is important to your pet's good health. Equally important is home dental care, such as daily tooth brushing and using a dental diet such as Hill's Science Diet T/D or HA both formulations are made slightly larger in kibble size either for dogs or cats and act to "scrub" the teeth as the pet chews it's food. There are also water additives and chew treats such as Greenies and C.E.T VeggieDents which are all available to help keep those choppers clean and healthy!
To introduce your pet to tooth brushing, wrap a small gauze or washcloth around your finger and use it like a toothbrush on your pet's teeth; you can even start by rubbing pet specfic toothpaste directly onto the teeth and let your pet get use to the taste and texture. You must use pet specific pastes that are not for human use: after all our pets are not expected to spit or rinse out the paste as we do!
Gradually you can work up to a soft toothbrush or a specially made finger toothbrush which is sized for your pet's mouth. The most important teeth to start brushing are the back chewing teeth and the fangs: these are the largest surface area teeth in the mouth with large surface area: this is where most of the dental problems seem to start!
Adult dogs have 42 permanent teeth and adult cats have 30 teeth. Puppies have 28 "baby" or deciduous teeth and kittens have 26 that fall out usually between 5-7 months of age (time for the tooth fairy anyone?)
We encourage our pet parents to regularly flip those lips and smell that breath to detect early signs of periodontal disease. At Animal Health Care of Marlboro, our veterinary health care team uses a blue wavelength light source to identify problem areas in the mouth as they highlight as hot pink! For more informatrion and advice on dental disease call your pet's vet to schedule your pet's dental evaluation: we'll be glad to help you and your pets to have a healthy start.
Looking forward to great "pugs" and kisses from your pets...drdeb